A Modern Music Box: a physical, digital update to the traditional toy music box

Twinklr is a modern music box: an electronic instrument controlled with a crank handle and a touchscreen.

I developed it with technologist Tom Armitage, initially with funding from D-Lab, and subsequently with funding from Makerversity’s MV Works scheme.

Having made compositions for music boxes previously, I was interested in what a touchscreen on a music box might feel like as a way to make composing for music boxes quicker, and performing with then easier and more interesting.

Our first version, funded by D-Lab and built around a tablet computer, was a proof of concept. The MV Works budget allowed us to really explore the concept in depth. We explored in a few different directions. We added richer functionality to the software, going beyond simple emulation of a music box and instead exploring things only a digital music box could do – polyphony, scale quantisation, and even controlling other electronic instruments over MIDI.

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