Build an interactive textile instrument

Learn to use conductive textile to build instruments that responds to touch. You will also learn to use an Arduino and to program with Max.

Course Instructor: Sam Topley

Course level

This practice-led course will show you how to make an electronic textile interface for music performance. We will learn a DIY technique to craft with e-textile materials and then explore how to make music with the handcrafted interface in a number of ways. Each session will follow on from the last, developing your knowledge through a series of hands-on projects, delivered in four online workshops. 

Session 1: Crafting an e-textile interface

Session 1: In this workshop, we will explore an approach to working with electronic textiles and handcraft. This workshop will introduce needle felting as a DIY method of working with e-textiles. We will make an interactive and touch sensitive textile interface, to then be used in a number of ways, throughout the four sessions of this course. Through crafting the brightly coloured interface, we will explore a creative approach to interface design and learn how traditional crafts can be combined with e-textile materials to result in novel interfaces for music performance.

Session 2: Bringing your craft work to life: capacitive sensing and visualising sensor data with the Lilypad Arduino

Session 2: In this session, we will transform the needle felted piece from Workshop 1 into an interactive and touch sensitive interface. We will introduce the Lilypad Arduino and explore capacitive sensing as a method of bringing your textile work to life. You will learn several approaches to visualising interaction data on screen, as well as the fundamentals of working with Arduino IDE.

Session 3: Composing through code: making an e-textile step sequencer with the Lilypad Arduino

Session 3: This week, we will develop our coding skills and learn an approach to using your e-textile interface with the Lilypad Arduino, as a standalone music making device. We will write, edit and compose through code, to create a playful step sequencer that makes music as you touch the textile interface.

Session 4: Interactive textiles and Max/MSP

Session 4: Workshop 4 will introduce a method of using your handcrafted interface with Max/MSP. From this workshop, you will know how to program your Lilypad Arduino, to allow your e-textile interface to control parameters in a Max patch. We will make a software-based sampler, where pre-recorded sound files are triggered by touching the interactive textile interface. Some familiarity and a basic working knowledge of Max/MSP is desirable, but not essential. Participants with experience in Max are welcome to bring their own patches to experiment with.

What you'll learn

Requirements

  • Some familiarity or experience of working with Arduino and/or Max/MSP (or similar platforms) is desirable
  • A tabletop space to work at
  • Computer, with USB port
  • Arduino IDE
  • Max 8 (Free 30 day trial available - you will be instructed to download this for the final session)

Course content

  • ---- Getting started with the materials – kit discovery
  • ---- Get started with sewing
  • ---- Blend conductive and non conductive materials
  • ---- Work with the materials
  • ---- Workshop Recording (starts at 11:15)
  • ---- Workshop Recording
  • ---- Workshop Recording

Who is this course for

  • The workshop series will cover the fundamentals of working with e-textiles and these technologies, giving a basis for participants to continue to develop their creative ideas when working with sound and interactive textiles.

Useful links

About the workshop leader

Sam Topley is a sound artist from Leicester, UK. She works with textiles to create handmade electronic musical instruments and interactive sound art work, including giant pompom musical instruments, knitted or 'yarnbombed' loudspeakers, and electronic musical instruments with e-textile interfaces. http://www.samantha-topley.co.uk/