Picture of Make a Musical Bench

The Musical Bench is an exhibit which makes music when people touch, kiss, or hold hands. It uses a micro-controller to detect changes in resistance, via the copper armrests, and plays high or low notes depending on how much current flows through you and a friend. This exhibit is the result of messing around with many different ways of using the human body to complete an electrical circuit.

The original Exploratorium exhibit runs on a prototype board, but for this instructables we’ve used an Arduino instead. This makes it possible for you to build it into a bench, a drinking fountain, or something that we haven’t thought of yet. You can also use this as a personal tool for playfully investigating electricity, conductivity, and capacitance. Have fun and happy tinkering!

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Musical Bench ver 0_bb.jpg

Collect these parts:


  • Soldering iron (we like this one from Weller)
  • Solder
  • Wire stripper
  • Wire cutter
  • Safety goggles
  • A computer loaded with arduino software

If you are new to Arduino Programming here are some helpful links:

How to program an Arduino

What an Arduino is

How to choose an Arduino

If you're familiar with schematics

Here are two schematics that should help most experienced arduinio/electronics people figure out how we're making. One is a drawing of the connections done with Fritzing, and the other is an electronics schematics of the sensor interface.

ecsaul2310 months ago

These are some of the best quality photos I have seen on this site. Kudos for that! It makes it so much easier for those of us who have no idea what these components even are. Do you have a video?

tinkeringstudio (author)  ecsaul2310 months ago
Thank you, we appreciate it! A video might be in the future, but for now we're relying on good images to convey the sense of what to do. Hope you make this project!
ImmortalSpirit10 months ago

I created this "1st Law of Communication" some 40 years ago: "The quality of any communication is exponentially proportional to the number of square inches of skin contact between the communicatees!"