Harmony Blocks
MIT, Spring 2009

Class: Toy Product Design
Team Size: Individual
Duration: 1.5 months
Project: Design a toy related to the arts.

This is a toy concept that was explored individually before the further development of Barnyard Booms.

Harmony Blocks are a set of building blocks that can be used to introduce the concept of chords and melodic music-making to children. Each Harmony Block plays a certain note and has the ability to connect to specific other blocks through protruding or depressed patterns present on each side of the block. Patterns interlock between blocks that form basic chords or harmonies; blocks that would form discordant combinations do not connect.

While regular building blocks encourage one mode of construction - that of physical building - Harmony Blocks add another layer of creation by allowing children to make real music at the same time. The building aspect of the blocks is designed to interest younger children; while they may be too young to consciously engage in chord creation, the ability to make lots of noise should not detract from the toy's appeal! However, older children will be able to use the blocks to create melodies and learn about harmonies in a more entertaining way than using an intimidating music theory textbook.

Sketch models of Harmony Blocks. The blocks on the left side are geared towards older children and interlock using the protruding or recessed letters of the notes in those blocks' particular chord (in this case C-E-G). The blocks on the right connect using matching shapes, and are designed for younger audiences.