Making Music


Making Music: On the right hand side of the building. Go past the Young Explorer's Area and the Planetarium and turn right.

Nurture your inner musician and explore the math of music and the science of sound.

Pick, Pluck, and Play

Music means many things to many people, but at its core, all music is built on the same scientific and mathematical principles. Making Music: Math and Science Out Loud features activities and music-making tools that help visitors uncover the science behind melodies, harmonies, beats, and more. Discover different musical instruments, explore music composition, and hear from musicians about how they use math to create art!

Math & Music

Everyday Musical Instruments (ft. composer Edward Schocker)

What does music have to do with math? (ft. Alphabet Rockers, Tommy Soulati Shepherd)

How does math play a part in live music? (ft. musician Lou Lou Rosenthal)


Virtual Harp

Learn to play a virtual stringed instrument! Unlike a real harp, you won’t need to pluck the strings to make music; simply wave your hands next to the virtual strings to hear their pitch. If you play with a friend or two, you can work together to create chords and songs!

Tone Zone

Get in touch with your inner Blue Man Group and play an instrument that’s larger than life! Explore how tubes of different lengths produce different pitches, and even construct a custom tube instrument by connecting different tubes together.

Heart Beats

Create a new beat that moves in time with your heartbeat! After measuring your heart rate, layer different sounds and rhythmic patterns to build a beat that matches the beats per minute of your heart. See what happens when the tempo of your heart changes!

Proximity Pitch

Discover a musical device that reacts to how far away you are from it. Control the instrument’s pitch by moving your hands near and far. You can also try different instrument sounds to see how the sound waves move and change on a scientific tool called an oscilloscope.

Oscylinderscope by Norman Tuck

All sounds start with vibrations. Using the oscylinderscope, you can actually see the vibrations of guitar strings. Learn about soundwaves and explore how changes to the strings lead to different vibrations and sounds.


Virtual Harp

Pythagorean Comma (Video)
This video discusses the math of harmonics, how they are used in tuning, and a surprising mathematical phenomenon known as the Pythagorean Comma.

Chrome Music Lab – Harmonics & Chrome Music Lab – Strings (Simulations)
Explore these simulations to hear what harmonics sounds like and how changing a string’s length affects that string’s pitch. 

Tone Zone

You may have noticed that the longer tubes played lower pitches. This has to do with how the air inside the tubes vibrates and a phenomenon called resonance. The following two videos explain the science, and math, behind resonance. 

Frequency and Resonance | STEM Demonstration (Video)

The Physics of Music: Crash Course Physics #19 (Video)

Heart Beats

Chrome Music Lab – Rhythm (Interactive)
If you had fun making rhythmic patterns in the exhibit, you are invited to explore rhythms further with this online tool.

Golden Ratio for Art Beginners (Video)
The Fibonacci sequence is a famous pattern that occurs in nature and is oftentimes found, and used, in art (This video describes some of the ways it is found in art and nature).

Let This Percussionist Blow Your Mind With The Fibonacci Sequence (Article & Video)
The Fibonacci sequence can also be used in music. Here is an interesting article and video that shows how a musician made a piece of music using the Fibonacci sequence.


by Norman Tuck

This might come as a surprise but the “wave” you saw in the oscylinderscope’s string was actually multiple waves happening at the same time. When you add multiple waves together, you actually end up with a new wave with its own wave properties.

Fourier: Making Waves (Simulation)
This simulation allows you to explore how waves can be added together in this way. 

The mathematics of waves can be really interesting and complex. One mathematical operation, known as the fourier transform, is used frequently in signal processing, including the digitalization of music.

But What is the Fourier Transform? A Visual Introduction (Video)
To learn more about fourier transform, watch this video.

Proximity Pitch

What is Timbre? | Why People Interpret Sounds Differently (Video)
This video does a great job at explaining timbre and how different people can hear the same instrument but have different opinions on its musical sound.

Timbre: Why Different Instruments Playing the Same Tone Sound Different (Video)
This video shows the spectrogram of different instruments playing the same note. While you watch the video, listen to hear how the instruments sound different from each other and observe the spectrogram to see if you can spot differences between the instruments. 

Spectrogram (Interactive)
If you would like to see the spectrogram of your own voice—or instruments—you can do so here.

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Age 3+: $20

Kids under 2: FREE

Members: FREE

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