Halloween Hop - an instrument you can jump on

Our neighborhood is crazy on Halloween with hundreds of kids filing through. For a few years I've put out various noisemakers, this year I made it interactive.

I built sixteen blocks that you can jump on to trigger tones and drum sounds. It was a blast to see so many people, young and old, pirates and unicorns, having fun with it.

My daughter laid them out as hopscotch:

The blocks are 2x12 boards cut to squares with vibration sensors mounted to them. I used a propane torch for my first attempt at the Japanese wood charring technique Shou Sugi Ban. This brings out a striping as different parts of the grain char more or less depending on the hardness.

The a microcontroller that turns the signal into a MIDI trigger. Sound design for the videos above was done in Max/MSP.


As a banjo player I hear a lot of banjo jokes. Here's one of my favorites:

    What's the difference between a banjo and a trampoline? 


     You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

Well, you don't need to take your shoes off to jump on this instrument either.