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Materials in Music Design Workshop

Musicians, technologists and makers are invited to take part in a workshop focused on the themes of Materials in Music, exploring and questioning materials in digital musical instruments design. 

Featured mentors:

  • Sophie Skach

  • Adan Benito

Organiser: Jianing Zheng

2-4PM 20 October 2022 

The workshop will be held at Queen Mary University of London - Mile End campus, London.

Apply here for FREE 

*If you are interested in the workshop but cannot make the above time, please fill out the form to choose another available slot. 


In this practice-based workshop, we will give you materials and tools to build physical interfaces to explore the relation between materials and music interaction.


Participants will design and build working prototypes with the aim of developing these for performance. Further issues to be explored will include modes and mappings in computer music, exercises in invention, and applications of sensors and electronics to real-time music. The workshop will be augmented by a survey of existing controllers and pieces of interactive music.


This workshop is intended for: Musicians, technologists, and makers interested in exploring new possibilities of soft materials in interactive music in a hands on and technical way. 


Alongside physical interaction design, the workshop integrates basic programming, electronics, audio, and interactive music. Participants will learn how to use some of the basic tools of Maker community, including the Bela platform, Pure Data, sensor technologies, and physical interface design.


We will also teach participants how to make their own sensors with custom geometries constructed out of materials such as conductive fabric, copper tape, piezoelectrics and everyday objects.

At the end of the workshop, participants could make music using their customised sensors with Pure Data on Bela.



In order to support participants two external mentors Sophie Skach and Adan Benito have been invited to join the event. These guests have significant experience in the fileds of music technology, music programming, textile design, e-textile sensor construction and other related fields. The mentors will be on site for the all duration of the workshop, guiding and supporting participants from technical viewpoint.

Sophie Skach

Sophie Skach is currently a postdoctoral researcher in soft robotics at Queen Mary University of London, where she also obtained her PhD in Media & Arts Technology. In both positions, she has worked with textiles as a wearable sensing and actuation system for smart clothing, as well as for large scale robots. Her experience with textiles in general reaches around 15 years back, when she specialised in knitwear technology and fashion design at the Fashion Institute in Vienna, Austria. For the workshop, Sophie will introduce the basics of textile structures and will give an overview of recent developments in electronic textiles.

Adan Benito

Adan Benito is currently pursuing his PhD within the AI + Music programme at Queen Mary University of London in the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM). His research focuses on gestural analysis and disambiguation for the design of guitar augmentations that capture expressivity and nuance in performance. Adan holds an MSc on Sound and Music Computing from Queen Mary University of London, a Telecommunications Engineering Degree, an MSc in Radio Communications from University of Cantabria and a Professional Music Diploma in Classical Guitar Performance. Since 2018 he has been one of the core developers behind Bela ( Besides that, he has a passion for all things guitar (from playing to technology) and instrument design.


Materials in Music

If you are interested in taking part in the workshop then you will need to send us a rough idea of a music design idea for materials-music interaction to be developed during the workshop using the link below. The following aspects could be addressed (but not required) when you draft your design ideas:

  • What kind of music do you imagine when you think of different materials such as fabric, foam, rubber, leather, etc.? Why?

  • What kind of materials-music interaction would you like to explore?

  • How do you imagine some soft materials could be used in musical instrument design or augmented existing instruments? 

  • What do you think is the role of materials in musical performance?


If you would like to participate, please apply for registration here (limited places available). The selection criteria include:

  • quality of the idea: originality, style and achievability

  • candidate's background (aiming to balance a multidisciplinary convergence of people)

  • age: 18+


In case of a limited spaces, please apply before APPLICATION DEADLINE: 18 OCTOBER 2022


Workshop Structure and Resources

The tools provided to the participants will include:

  • traditional workshop tools

  • Bela kits (to be returned at the end of the workshop)

  • breadboards, basic sensors and electronics


The following materials will be provided:

  • basic craft materials (e.g. cardboards, wood stick)

  • textile materials (e.g. conductive wires, fabrics, leather)


Participants are encouraged to bring any particular tool or material that they need (please fill in the Materials in Music Sign Up Form link above). 


We will be asking participants to bring their own laptop (no specific OS required) and headphones with one free USB-A available to connect the Bela kit and a pair of headphones. Ensure that you have the latest version of Pure Data Vanilla installed on your computer prior the workshop. 

​Below a first draft of the workshop schedule.


  • Introduction (2-2.10 pm)

  • Sharing session (2.10-2.30 pm) 

  • Introducing Interactive Textiles (2.30-2.40 pm)

  • Introducing Bela and Pure Data (2.40-2.50 pm)

  • Prototyping and Making (2.50-3.50 pm)

  • Sharing and Wrap-up (3.50-4.00 pm)



Interested in a Longer Design Exploration? 

After the design workshop, we are inviting a small number of participants who are interested to develop their deign further for a longer-period (2 weeks). 


During the 2-weeks design period, we will give you support as you required. Then, you'll be invited to prepare a short performance for the Work in Progress 4.0 event at 3rd Nov start around 6:30pm (G2, Queen Mary University of London). You will receive £60 as compensation for you contribution. 

If you are interested, please sign up here

If you have any questions please contact Jianing Zheng at


Thank you for your interest in this study!


If you have any questions of the project, please contact Jianing Zheng at

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