What is Soundbeam?

A unique musical instrument which uses motion sensors and switches to translate body movements into music and sound

You don’t have to wear special gloves, operate a controller, or wave a wand or bat in the air. Simply move in a way that is comfortable for you and the machine will do the rest.

As you learn how different movement qualities can shape and control the virtual orchestras, rock groups, jazz bands, circuses, rainforests and haunted houses at your fingertips, you can create musical pieces and soundscapes of ever increasing sophistication and subtlety.

The current version of this award-winning device – Soundbeam 5 – uses up-to-the-minute 21st century electronics, but the concept has a solid and respectable history. The first version appeared in the mid-1980’s as the brainchild of composer Edward Williams, and it was produced by the British synthesiser manufacturer EMS who created the VCS3 – showcased on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions and several other groundbreaking recordings of the time. 

Over 25 years on, there are now approaching 5,000 enthusiastic users of the various generations of Soundbeam, in more than 20 countries.

Statistically, at any given moment in time, in different places all over the world, dozens of people will be experiencing the musical liberation which is Soundbeam. 

“The possibility of doing anything spontaneously is not often given to a disabled person. Soundbeam has the capacity to let me draw music from it simply by waving my arms … and thus forget, for a few blissful minutes, the physical disability which has taken up far too much space in my life and the lives of others like me. I can say that for me it is indeed pure magic.” Chris Lees – Soundbeam musician.

Unlike a lot of resources which are sometimes considered suitable for individuals with special needs, Soundbeam encourages active engagement and communication, and the sensitivity of the interface makes this possible – even for individuals with significant physical or cognitive challenges. 

Mainstream primary and secondary schools as well as further and higher education establishments are increasingly well-represented amongst Soundbeam’s ever expanding user base.

Soundbeam encourages collaborative group activity, and is perfect for classroom-based projects designed to encourage learners to gain an understanding of the essential building blocks of music and to assemble these into something creative and original.

Students’ achievements with Soundbeam have received widespread accolades including all-Ireland winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup and Best Community / Education Award from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. 

For further information go to: www.soundbeam.co.uk

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