A permanent, interactive sound installation meant to be played by a group of approximately 8 kids from 7 to 12 years.


The SonOrb consists of 12 colored spheres and 24 white pedestals. In the top of each pedestal is a cavity. When a sphere is placed in this cavity it will be lit and one can hear its sound. Each sphere, with its unique color, also has a unique sound. Placing the sphere on another pedestal will create a variation of this sound. High pedestals will result in high pitched variations, low pedestals in low pitched ones. A sphere, once placed on a pedestal, can also be rotated. This results in further sound modulation. Multiple spheres, placed on different pedestals, can be combined, arranged and manipulated by the kids to create a composition.


Since september 2010, the SonOrb is in use in the Klankspeeltuin (in english: Sound Playground), a venue with multiple sound installations. Here, every day, and with adult guidance, kids create and perform their own compositions. The Klankspeeltuin is part of Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam.

Edo Paulus developed two other sound installations currently in the Klankspeeltuin:

Design concept

During a music performance with acoustic instruments it's usually very clear for the audience which sound originates from which source and how it is generated: The sound originates from a physical, resonating object, the musical instrument, en it is being generated by the physical action of a performer. This obvious causality offers the audience an immediate understanding of what they hear. With electronic sounds on the other hand, this correlation is not so self-evident. When hearing abstract electronic sounds, an uneducated audience can easily be somewhat mystified.

The SonOrb creates abstract electronic sounds. To make these sounds more comprehensible the correlation between the physical object, the manual act and the sound is being restored: The colored sphere is the object from which the sound emanates, and the performer plays this object.

Sounds and sound sets

The SonOrb generates synthetic sounds in real-time. Exact sound colors, pitches and harmonic properties are automatically matched so the kids only need to occupy themselves with the more larger-scale aspects of their composition. This allows them to achieve results more quickly.

Currently, the SonOrb contains only one collection of interactive sounds but more can be added and developed by third parties: other composers and students of electronic music.


08.2010 - now
Continuous use in the Klankspeeltuin in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam (NL).

Official opening bij Mayor of Amsterdam Eberhard van der Laan in the Klankspeeltuin in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam (NL).

03.07.2010 - 11.07.2010
Used at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in Dewsbury (UK).


This project is being realized with support from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB) and the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ.

Photo by Paul Greenwood / Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
Official opening by Amsterdam's Mayor van der Laan (photo: Bert Verhoeff)
Photo by Paul Greenwood / Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
Photo by Paul Greenwood / Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival
SonOrb article in NRC Handelsblad (febr 18th, 2011)
Talk by Edo Paulus about the development and design choices of the SonOrb, at This Happened... in Amsterdam (febr 27th, 2012)