Make Your Own Tactile Sound Device

Photograph of a blue neoprene tabard on a hangar. The tabard is decorated with embroidery and a cable coming from it is connected to a mini-amplifier.Tactile sound simply means that you can feel the sound as well as hear it. Tactile sound is created by micro-speakers that vibrate at the same time as playing sound and can be embedded into a variety of objects. This provides a more intense listening experience, and is also an alternative way to experience sound if you are Deaf or hard of hearing.

From 2017-18 we worked with partners at the Vibrafusion Lab and Concordia University in Canada on the VIBE project. Led by Artistic Director Dr Ju Gosling, Together! 2012 CIC created designs for a tabard, cushion and bench. The designs linked here use materials that we ordered from the internet, but we have also built versions using micro speakers and a wide range of recycled materials, so do experiment.

Colour photograph of a woman holding a polystyrene ball covered in green latex to her neck.You can also make a very simple device to experience tactile sound using a polystyrene craft ball, one micro-speaker and cable and the relevant instructions in the VibraCushion design. Instead of making the cushion, cut the polystyrene ball in half along the original join, and scoop out enough from the centres of both halves of the ball to embed the micro-speaker and its cable. Put the ball back together, and seal the joint with tape. Test it, and when you are satisfied, glue the ball together for strength. Decorate as you wish, remembering that you want to be able to feel the vibrations as strongly as possible. Connect it to a sound source in the same way you would a VibraCushion, and you will be surprised at what you can feel through a medium which is traditionally used for insulation rather than amplification.

All of the designs can be linked to a mobile phone or to a more traditional music or film player. Why not make a masked dance-film, and/or make a music track with your percussion shaker, and see how the sounds feels? Don’t forget to share your photographs and films of your work with us (use free transfer sites such as Dropbox and WeTransfer to share films) at info@together2012.org.uk and we will share these with our followers on social media. 

NB: Using a tactile sound device against your upper back may also assist with clearing lungs which are blocked with mucus, but should only be used for this purpose after taking medical advice first.