For their DiscoveryLand gallery, Telus World of Science Edmonton wanted a larger than life piano. Since the gallery is targeted at children in a museum environment, it had to robust, safe to use and really fun ! Along with our partners, we tokk on the challenge and the result is quite stunning.
Some features of the piano:
- Played using your feet (or even your hand if you’re willing)
- Two (2) octaves long
- White and black notes are playable
- White notes are backlit
- Three (3) different sounds can be selected (piano, guitar and flute on the initial release but really easy to modify)
- Three (3) different game modes can be selected (play notes, listen to a song and learn a song)
Each note is fitted with a piezoelectric sensor that detects when it is hit not unlike an electronic drum pad. The information from the sensors are converted to midi and sent to a MAC computer that runs a professional software synthesizer. This synthesizer is controlled using a custom-made software developped in-house to handle the modes of operation, the type of sounds played, the backlight of the note, etc.
You get the richest experience of the piano in “learn a song” mode. In this mode, you first select one the thirteen pre-programmed songs to learn. Then the piano plays the beginning of the song while backlighting the notes. It is then your turn to play the first and follow the piano’s suggestions for following notes. This allows children to play a tune they have heard before themselves.
This video shows our good friend Kurt playing the piano on the final installation days… Still some more tweaking to be done but we’re almost there.