A modern music box
Twinklr is a music box that you can write music with. Just like an old music box, when you turn Twinklr's handle, it plays a melody. What's different is that it's your melody, not something built-in that you cannot change.
Add and remove notes on the fly. Play slow or fast, forwards or backwards.
Twinklr also has MIDI Out, meaning it sends tones to any MIDI enabled instrument or interface.
Twinklr v1 was developed with D-Lab's support, and the latest version was then built as part of the 2016 MV Works cohort at Makerversity.
In this version melodies can be saved into one of eight slots in the device. It allows the user to have multiple 'playheads' running at once, playing multiple versions of the same melody, leading to new interpretations of an existing tune, and Twinklr can control any other MIDI-enabled device, opening up new ways to play existing instruments.
Twinklr is built using computer-controlled techniques. Its case is fabricated from laser-cut ply and acrylic, designed in CAD software. Its interface is built around a Raspberry Pi and touchscreen, and connected using a custom-built circuit board. A focus of this iteration of Twinklr has been on making it easy to make more of them: by using readily available components and on-demand fabrication, tiny-scale manufacture becomes a possibility.
All the hardware is open source: you can find links to download the CAD files and the electronics schematics from the Twinklr webpages as well as the Processing code for the software.
Richard Birkin is a Derybyshire-based composer and creative technologist, known for combining his own modern classical music with touch-sensitive installations and experimental digital manifestations.
Tom Armitage is a technologist, designer and writer based in London. He makes systems, tools, toys, and art out of hardware, software, and the network.