Buttons, knobs, faders – yes, they’re decent. But you can’t jump on them, not without serious consequences. What you need is a trampoline.

There are a few things to know about this story, which I will give away right at the beginning. First, there are detailed video instructions for how to use the trampoline and synths for bouncing all uploaded under a free and open source license on GitHub. Second, the goats are not cooperating and we can’t make them jump, if anyone knows anything about goat behavior. (“Goat” is not a technical term, I do mean the thing you thought of, the one with four legs that’s right now eating your jacket and entirely not jumping, whatever may have been your expectations.)

Third, this is all part of actual research. You may not have known about the position of Game Designer in Residence at MICA Game Lab, but if you’re not now jumping with a goat on a trampoline, I suspect you’re slightly jealous this is not your job. Late-stage capitalism and all that. What can I say? I’m sorry. The goat also just ate my book on late-stage capitalism, and seems to think it’s delicious.

Anywhere, here is the jumpSynth, a trampoline-based portable synthesizer for making noise in the woods alone. (If anyone makes a mention of something to do with being alone because of the pandemic, I will feed all your clothes to the goat.)

It’s the creation of Yann Seznec.

Get ready, because honestly, this is one of the most convincing sound demos in the entire 15+-year history of this site.

Bela board, the high-performance, low-cost/low-power embedded audio platform
Pure Data patch as sound engine
Code and more info: https://github.com/yannseznec/jumpSynth

Wait, but why don’t I just grab my Casio and jump up and down on a trampoline, or even, like, the floor? Ah-ha, but you missed that the trampoline is actually a sensor. And Yann can actually help you with that, too:

Frankly, I like that this is an introduction to trampolines as sound-making devices, as it teases some more advanced sequels.

Oh, and the goats. Well, knowing CDM, someone might be an expert in ethology (that’s the study of animal behavior). Please – advise.

Funny story: my original plan was for this synth to be called “goatSynth” because my sister got some pygmy goats and I thought it would be hilarious to make a trampoline synth that the goats would play by jumping up and down. I soon learned that goats don’t always jump up and down on things. They just stood there looking confused. If anyone has any tips for getting goats to jump on command please let me know.

I mean, advise Yann. I don’t own any goats, so don’t come to me claiming this is some kind of animal abuse. (I think that would more like making them read an 80s Yamaha manual or troubleshoot Windows audio driver latency.)

There is a product page. Here it is:

Happy jumping.

Bonus bouncing! Let’s add some lighting.

Gavin Morris, interactive artist, writes in comments:

Ooh I started working on a trampoline project just before lockdown! I was going to make a collaborative happy hardcore generator. Not sure now everything is cancelled. Good way of maintaining a safe distance though. Anyway I used a proximity sensor on the floor as opposed to a pillow! There is a tutorial somewhere online for a vibration sensor based approach. Here it is: