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Music producers, old and new


The term “music production” means many different things to different people. For some, it conjures an image of a person talking a band through the process of the album they’re recording. Others might imagine a teenager hunched over a computer working on an electronic track. But what are the commonalities that unite these figures and how can this be present interactively to the public? This is the question we were tasked with answering by Popsenteret, the museum for Norwegian popular music.


One of the museum’s interactive experiences is the FUZZ exhibit. This presents various musical instruments to visitors, offering an overview of how they function and showcasing how to recreate several sounds. Currently there are four different stations which present the guitar, bass, drum-kit, and synthesiser.

Popsenteret's FUZZ exhibition

Our job was to create a fifth station: music production. Since there aren’t instrument commonly associated with music production, we instead explored creative nature of music production.

Our Station

Our final solution for the FUZZ music producer station

Our station is intended to be a collaborative experience, operated by four visitors simultaneously. Each visitor controls a separate section, and together they produce music.

Station Sections


The station's sequencer section, which uses computer vision to detect if a hole is covered

A sequencer allows users to create a musical pattern, typically rhythmic or melodic. While sequencers are usually presented on a computer screen or small electronic device, we decided to go big.

Other common sequencers available on the market

Each of the rows represents a separate instrument, and each column represents a step in time. The sequencer loops through the steps and plays back a sound if the instrument is active.

The sequencer in action!

But the sequencer needs some sounds to play, and this is where the next two stations come into play.

Drum Pad

The drum pad section of the station

Each drum pad represents a different drum sound, which are played back by the bottom four rows of the sequencer. When a drum pad is hit, its sound changes. A hard hit makes it sound louder and reverberant, a soft hit makes it quiet and clean.

An example of an unprocessed drum sound, played when the drum pad is hit softly
An example of a processed and reverberated drum sound, played when the drum pad is hit hard

The visitor can also play along to the rhythmic sequence in real time.

Deconstructed Guitar

The deconstructed guitar section of the station

The noises from the guitar are sampled played back by the fifth row of the sequencer. We decided to present the guitar slightly differently by deconstructing it into three separate components: the neck, strings, and body.

Left: The guitar neck
Middle: The guitar strings, which consist of a bass string and electric guitar string, both sharing the same input, on a custom built body
Right: The guitar body with a kick pedal next to it to encourage users to hit it

Instead of playing the guitar as normal, the user can interact with these components by scraping along the neck, plucking a string, hitting the body with a kick drum pedal, or any other way that they can imagine!

Interaction with the guitar neck
Sound of the guitar neck
Interaction with the guitar strings
Sound of the guitar strings
Interaction with the guitar body
Sound of the guitar body

MIDI Keyboard

The MIDI keyboard section of the station

The visitor at the keyboard section does something a little different. On top of the rhythmic sequencer the station also has a melodic sequencer. This is represented by a row of eight blocks on the screen.

The interactive melodic sequence view, which is featured on the station's center touch screen in front of the MIDI keyboard section

Each block represents the same step in time as the rhythmic sequencer, and the position of the block determines the pitch of the note in the melody. The keyboard player creates this sequence on the touchscreen. Then then can press a keyboard key and play back the sequence in the specified key.

Interaction with the MIDI keyboard
Sound of the MIDI keyboard


Before they start using the station, the visitors pick a genre that they want to recreate. The selected genre determines the sound of the drums and the synthesizer controlled by the two sequencers. It also turns several lights above holes on the rhythmic sequencer red. These holes represent a common rhythmic pattern for the genre.

The genre selection screen, which is featured on the station's center touch screen facing the deconstructed guitar section
Sound of the "Pop" genre snare
Sound of the "House" genre snare
Sound of the "Pop" genre synth
Sound of the "House" genre synth
An example of the genre sequence being filled in


The effects grid view, which is featured on the station's center touch screen facing the drum pad section

By moving the Popsenteret logo around the above grid, the visitors can control two effects. The X-axis controls the pitch of the drums, and the Y-axis controls an echo effect.

An example of the effects grid being used
Sound of the effects being used

Video Demonstration


If you want to build your own interactive museum exhibit, our design documents and code can be found here.

Image Sources