Question Sheet: Music of the Future


Before Reading:

–How would you describe a musical instrument?

–How does it make sound?

–Sometimes computers are attached to musical instruments, like

a piano. What might be the advantage of that?

–Computers have inputs and outputs. Outputs include your

computer’s speakers, monitor and electrical signals that control other devices

such as a printer. But how do you input commands to your computer, telling it

what you want it to do? What device or devices do you use?

During Reading:

–Mute usually means to utter no sound. But in this story, the

MUTE technology does what?

–A computer keyboard is a type of sensor. But in MUTE and

TAI-CHI other types of sensors are used. What do they sense?

–These sensors rely on acoustics. What is that?

–What’s a Sound Rose?

–How might TAI-CHI speed a restaurant order?

After Reading:

–How might systems based on acoustic sensors change the idea of

what a musical instrument is?

–How might the same idea be applied to improve the lives of

people with disabilities or the elderly? Where would you install them to

simplify your life?

–What are the advantages of a standard computer mouse as an

input device, compared to acoustic sensors?

–What are the risks of making a spot on your desk or the

kitchen table into a computer-input device? (Hint: What if you put a book or

milk glass down hard?)


–In a few short years, computers went from being room-sized

machines to machines as small, portable as a notebook or, in some cases (such as

iPods or Blackberries), a deck of cards. Discuss how acoustic-input devices

might expand the way we think of computers and where we use them.

–How would the MUTE and TAI-CHI systems change the way we make

music? Is that a good thing or would you prefer the old acoustical instruments —

strings, winds, drums and horns? Explain your preference.

–How might these acoustic-sensor inputs to computers save

energy in homes or businesses?


–Imagine a computer-controlled world without keyboards.

Describe a day in your life in this world.

–You’re going to make a MUTE-based musical instrument,

recording sounds that your instrument will later associate with various spots on

a tabletop. Describe in two paragraphs what sounds you’d collect and why.

Imagine a band made out of five such MUTE systems. Describe in up to three

paragraphs the challenges you might encounter — and have to overcome — in

writing or orchestrating music for this MUTE combo. (HINT: What would happen if

this band travels a lot.)

–Imagine that your neighbor was injured in an auto accident and

confined to a wheelchair with no use of her legs. Describe how, as a MUTE or

TAI-CHI engineer, you would set up their bedroom, living room and kitchen to

maximize that neighbor’s use of those rooms and what’s in them.