The Salt Shaker is a musical instrument / toy built upon ideas of tangible and embodied interaction. It uses an accelerometer to encode human shake gestures into digital information, thereby translating these gestures into rhythm and humanizing the digital audio synthesis process.

This project received an Honourable Mention for the Moment Factory Award

What does it mean to play?

Digital instruments offer interesting potential in the space between toys and instruments. Both are played with, but often to different ends. The Salt Shaker attempts to explore this space. It asks what does an instrument look that is simple enough for a young child to engage with, but also deep enough that it can inspire a musician or composer.

Making as Research

Below are some photos of some of many various iterations. As embodied interaction was foundational to the project project it was particularly important to make functional prototypes that could be used and engaged with. It was through the act of engaging with them that the experience could be articulated, generating knowledge that could then be applied to the next iteration.

An Artistic Tool

An important part of the process was playing with the Salt Shaker and attempting to compose some music. Here are two songs I composed with the Salt Shaker.

Here the Salt Shaker has been arranged with another synth.

Here the Salt Shaker is the only sound source. It has been fed through audio effects or resampled for some parts.

Additional Reading


Evan is an interdisciplinary Artist and Designer with a deep fascination of sound. He is a conflicted technologist who sees the need for creating and understanding value outside of market forces. He is trying to find ways to utilize his broad skill set for the benefit of others while trying to maintain some sort of balance in the form of artistic expression.