Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Playing with Purpose – instruments for (more than) music

A half-day workshop and networking opportunity for LEGO® music makers and researchers, 20th June 2022.

photo of red lego blocks
Organisers: Ross Purves, Nicolas Gold, Evangelos Himonides, with support from Kyle Berry

View event page for timings and registration

This half-day, hybrid face-to-face/virtual workshop will explore the use of LEGO® as a flexible medium for designing, building, prototyping and performing with musical instruments. We start from the position that musical instruments can be used for far more than solely playing music. Instruments can also function as a means of exploring, teaching and collaborating in many other parallel fields. Moreover, building instruments from LEGO® poses not only challenges (e.g. discrete-style materials and joining methods) but also opportunities (e.g. reconfiguration, prototyping, and access).

We invite all those active within the large international community of LEGO® music makers and researchers to participate in this workshop, either in person or virtually. Participants are encouraged to share their LEGO® musical instrument experiences, designs and to perform with their LEGO® instruments.

The workshop will build on three years of ongoing research by the organisers into the educational and musical potential of combining LEGO® making, computer programming concepts and experimental musical instrument designs. A video overview of some of this work can be found online here and we have recently had an article published, Playing, Constructionism, and Music in Early-Stage Software Engineering Education (2022 Multidisciplinary Journal for Education, Social and Technological Sciences).

The event will also be an opportunity to discuss the establishment of an international network for likeminded musicians, designers, researchers and educators active in this area. Future events might focus on how instruments can be used not solely for playing music but also as a means to explore, teach and collaborate in other areas too.

Note: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this work.
Image credit: Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons