When I'm not creating music, I can always be found creating something else! I was super drawn to Legos as a child, and now I've rediscovered them as an adult. As part of this fun hobby I built a kinetic sculpture, DUET, in celebration of the Aurora School of Music’s spring recital series. This sculpture features a pianist and violinist playing together. The pianist’s arms move up and down the violinist rotates in place.
The pianist is the most dynamic part of the sculpture and was the most difficult to build! It takes a few simple machines to get it up and running. Inside the sculpture are two weights that rise and fall, each is responsible for the motion of a different hand. The weights are lifted by prongs sticking out of two small wheels. As the wheels rotate, they cause the weights to rise. Once a prong moves past the weight — because of the wheel’s rotation — the weight drops down. Thanks gravity!
Each weight is attached to a loop of string (courtesy of some Christmas ornaments). When a weight drops, this causes its loop of string to yank down on a lever inside the piano. When this lever is yanked down, a piano key quickly flips up, causing one of the pianist’s arms to bounce in the air. In this sculpture the piano plays the pianist!
The violinist sits on top of a big gear that can spin freely. Its back-and-forth rotation is caused by the movement of a grooved Lego piece—one with teeth that fit the side of the gear. The grooved piece itself moves forward and back because it is attached to a rod being cranked by a small gear.
Lastly, the speed of the sculpture is controlled by an early-2000s era LEGO train controller. Ta-da!