The Embroidered Music Ball

In this paper, we describe the Embroidered Musical Ball, a soft, tactile computer/MIDI musical instrument, that lets untrained children, novices and/or professionals perform and manipulate expressive and detailed music with simple everyday physical hand gestures such as squeezing and stretching. Our new embroidered pressure sensors replace the hard, bulky and awkward continuous control sensors common in most computer instruments, i.e., sliders, knobs and buttons. The combination of this light and easily physically manipulated instrument with a new, immersive approach to musical software allows players to expressively explore music with an immediacy not experienced in traditional instruments, which emphasize years of training to learn the precise control of pitches, timing, levels and various expression instructions. Instead, the musical ball lets players manipulate and explore a complete musical composition that has been mapped to different embroidered sensors. This allows players to immediately squeeze and mold the ball to perform the pre-composed music in an expressive manner.

Credit: Weinberg et al. 2000


Gili Weinberg, Maggie Orth, and Peter Russo. 2000. The embroidered musical ball: a squeezable instrument for expressive performance. In CHI ’00 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA ’00). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 283-284. DOI:

Project Page

Future Opera, MIT Media Lab

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