Ototo: Turn Anything Into A Musical Instrument


One of the less noted, but uniquely important, achievements in electronics is how it’s created new frontiers in music while simultaneously making it more accessible. Modern synthesizers allow composers to put an entire orchestra at their fingertips. Ototo, on the other hand, allows you to turn anything at your fingertips into an instrument.

Musical Chairs, As In Literally

Ototo is actually, right out of the box, a simple keyboard; you can whack it and make sounds, and even make music. In other words, it’s a fairly straightforward little synthesizer that you can use, on its own, to make sound. But the real genius is that you can connect Ototo to pretty much anything conductive to make entirely new instruments.

Alligator Clips As Musical Enablers

It’s pretty simple; use alligator clips to connect the Ototo to the item in question, and the characteristics of that item and how you use it will change the sound that you generate. The example the Ototo team uses is creating origami out of foil, connecting it, and then stroking the different edges to create different sound. But really you can use anything that conducts electricity, from pots and pans to foil wrapped around cardboard, and you can even connect sensors of all sorts to it for different sounds. In fact, if you want to make it fully controllable, you can; Ototo is designed to mesh well with that beloved nerd hacking platform, Arduino.

A Musical World


Ototo is still a work in progress to some degree. Originally a commission, it’s been so popular online that Dentaku, the creator, is currently figuring out how to make it available to the general public. That said, it will likely be sooner rather than later; this is a tool designed to bring music to everybody, and it’ll be a huge hit when it arrives.

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Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.

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