What if your musical instrument were gelatinous? Edible?

“Noisy Jelly” is the latest project to imagine that scenario. Thanks to the capacitive quality of gelatin (known to us Americans by the brand name JELL-O and to some simply as “jelly”), you can mix up a set of colored instruments that jiggle when you touch them. Powered by the open hardware platform Arduino to read sensors and Max/MSP to produce sound, it’s the work of a couple of Paris-based students, Raphaël and Marianne Cauvard.

Check out the terrific video featuring wide-eyed children, and specs below.

What makes this more delightful is the possibility that we’ll see orchestras of squishy, organic, edible instruments. NYC Resistor and our friend Ranjit Bhatnagar built their own instrument out of JELL-O (or fruit salad, depending on the iteration). The Gel-tone made a splash (erm, squish) as a more whimsical entry at the Guthman Musical Instrument competition, and was played and eaten at our own Handmade Lounge at Solid Sound Festival in Massachusetts last summer. Hilariously, it debuted at (and was invented for) a JELL-O mold competition. See these couple of videos (Guthman top; Solid Sound bottom) below, and find more information on that instrument:

the resistor jeltone :: an edible toy piano [openMaterials]

How to make your own: The Resistor JelTone (I dearly hope this inspires more copy-cats. Let the gelatinous musical instrument revolution continue!)

More on the Noisy Jelly project:

Note : This project is a fully working prototype made with Arduino and Max/MSP, there are absolut no sound editing in the video…
More picture at this Flickr set
And download the project PDF
Noisy jelly is a game where the player has to cook and shape his own musical material, based on coloured jelly.
With this noisy chemistry lab, the gamer will create his own jelly with water and a few grams of agar agar powder. After added different color, the mix is then pour in the molds. 10 min later, the jelly shape can then be placed on the game board,and by touching the shape, the gamer will activate different sounds.
Technically, the game board is a capacitive sensor, and the variations of the shape and their salt concentration, the distance and the strength of the finger contact are detected and transform into an audio signal.
This object aims to demonstrate that electronic can have a new aesthetic, and be envisaged as a malleable material, which has to be manipulated and experimented.
Author: Raphaël pluvinage (pluvinage.eu and twitter (twitter.com/#!/rpluvina)
& Marianne Cauvard (mariannecauvard.fr)
at L’Ensci Les ateliers (ensci.com)

If you do make your own project, we’d love to see it. Perhaps a gel-orchestra is next.

Several people showed this to me; notably at DE:BUG (Deutsch)