Happy Notes: Tangible Music Exploration

Happy Notes is a museum installation designed to encourage a tangible exploration of music by bridging the space between the play of music discovery and the structure of music theory and composition.


Yuebo Wang, Susan Coleman Morse, Thalith Nasir


4 weeks

Design Approach and Process

We began with a series of museum visits and disability simulations that helped us identify key insights that informed our design.

  • Sense of space: We wanted to provide participants with their own space to explore interactions without feeling self-conscious.
  • Practice of patience: Designing interactions that are attuned to each participants pace.
  • Multisensory feedback: To provide incremental feedback to facilitate awareness of progress and participation

Design solution

Our design involves visitors being able to compose music by throwing 'notes' onto a staff. It brings back the freedom of making music when we are children, with more physicality.

The notes were created by crumpling paper balls, securing them with masking tape, adhering Velcro which would allow them to attach to the felt wall and color coding them according to note duration .

As a Wizard of Oz technique, a pianist skilled at sight-reading was equipped with a digital piano and would play notes corresponding to those placed on the wall.

We conducted two rounds of experience testing, incorporating multiple users in our final test. Post-interviews and product reaction cards helped identify some of the key issues with our prototype.


video presentation, reflections

Methods Used

Observations, secondary research, bodystorming, brainstorming, paper prototyping, Wizard of Oz, experience testing, product reaction cards

Materials Used

Felt, spray paint, paper balls