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The 'bending' of the sound happens as you change the flow of electricity in the circuit

Toying with Sound

Stephanie at MIT Museum led a 'circuit bending' workshop. We took apart old battery-powered musical toys and learned how to play with the circuits inside to change the sounds. - Margaret

stuff you need
  • An old electronic toy or musical instrument (that you don't mind breaking open)
  • Small screwdrivers (Standard and Philips)
  • Pliers
  • Safety glasses
  • Playdoh

Find a toy that makes electronic sounds. We've found them at thrift stores and garage sales.


Usually it takes a just a screwdriver to open the toy up, but sometimes you'll need to pry it open with a pliers - make sure you wear eye protection!

dsc05373 If the toy still works, make sure it has batteries so you can turn it on. Looking inside, you'll see wires and a circuit board - usually green with silver wires and solder.


Turn on the toy. While the toy is making sounds, take a small lump of Playdoh and gently press it into the circuitry. Try moving it around, too.

mov05372 Here is a video of experimenting with the sound of this toy. Musicians and artists who play with circuits call this "circuit-bending."
What else
More ways to make music from clay
Ideas in the air at an interactive music festival
Circuit-benders create new instruments from old toys

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