H2O Sound Laboratory

The sounds of water

  • Placement - inside or outside
  • Participants - Up to 20 children, ages 8-12. Younger children must be accompanied by their parents.
  • Duration - 1-5 days, 2-3 hours, as agreed in advance
  • Supervision - one adult for every 5-7 children, to be provided by the host venue.

In the Water Music Lab, children are able to explore the sounds of water in multifaceted ways and acoustically observe its physical, artistic and ecological aspects.

Building on the basic concept underlying its large H2Orchestra, MMM has added multiple new water-based elements to its collections over the past few years. Now the sounds of the water cycle can be heard coming from the giant Water Jumping Carpet and the Water Samplophone. The large and carefully tuned Bottle Gong can be used to play melodies and the Water Music Laboratory allows for the sounds of water to be electronically amplified. They can also be explored with a Hydrophone, a Bubble Bottle and a Drip-Drop Drum. All of these components can also be booked individually.

The H2Orchestra, of course, also belongs to the Water Music Laboratory, either as a freestanding activity or as part of a course in composing with water sounds. Because of its use of electronic amplification, the Water Music Laboratory described below should be placed in a space that is distinctly separate from that of the H2Orchestra.

The "Water Cycle" Interactive Soundscape

In this program, water droplets, rain, rivers and ocean as well as the sun, wind and vapor are all imitated using various instruments and the mouth.

  • Duration - approx. 10-15 minutes; can be enacted multiple times
  • Participants - variable

This interactive soundscape is also part of The Water Cycle stage programme from the MMM's Join In! repertoire.

Other Water Sound Instruments

Drip Drop Drums

A sculpture made of hose and droplet appliers:

Droplets fall into various containers and onto various kinds of membranes, creating electronically amplified dripping sounds with various pitches. 

As an alternative, water can be “shot” at the drums using water guns.

Burble Basin

A hydrophone (waterproof microphone) is installed inside a large basin. Big bubbles are created using a pump. The burbling sounds of the air bubbles is amplified.

Bottle Gong

The big Bottle Gong consists of 27 tuned bottles mounted in a large stainless steel frame (2.5 meters long, 2 meters high). There are also various empty bottles that can be filled in a stainless steel tub using a funnel.


The WaveDrum consists of a drum with many tiny little pellets. By carefully swivelling it, a wave sound accompanied by a visible wave of pellets is created.

Cardboard Tube Rainmakers

Alternatively the children can be invited to make rainmakers out of cardboard tubes. This activity requires much effort, takes a relatively long time and few children can work on it simultaneously. It also requires a greater amount of supervision.

Water Jumping Carpet

  • Stage - The pedestal consists of very low standing stage elements (10-15 cm high) and is to be provided by the host venue. The Puddle-Jumping Carpet can also be placed directly onto flooring, provided it has an even surface.
  • Setup time - 180 minutes
  • Venue - Spatial requirements: minimum of 7 x 7 meters. The Puddle-Jumping Carpet is designed to be placed in a dark room for the sake of the lighting special effects
  • Participants - 12 or more players can play together

This instrument provides a wonderfully entertaining and safe electronic way of playing with real water sounds while  simultaneously meeting children’sneed for physical movement. A pedestal, 5x5 meters large, with nine blue puddle-shaped pieces of carpet attached to the foundational grey flooring (carpet), allows visitors to “puddle-jump.” When children jump into the “puddle,” one of the four loudspeakers around the pedestal emits a sound related to water, which also symbolizes one of the stations in the water cycle: droplets, rain and thunderstorms, babbling of a brook, flushing of a toilet, singing in the shower, a rubber ducky quacking, splashing, kerplunking, burbling and sea breakers.

Water Samplophone

  • Setup time - 30 minutes
  • Spatial requirements - minimum of 2 x 3 meters
  • Participants - 6 players can play together

A large „xylophone” allows six players to play with water sounds that can be heard either over the headphones or without them! The Samplophone is 2 meters long, has 12 sound rods and stands on four legs like a table. Above it there is a traverse with six headphones hanging from it. It can also be operated with a loudspeaker, so that the sounds can be heard by. The headphones are especially helpful in venues where noise is an issue or when nobody is to be disturbed by the sound. 

In Action

And this is what it looks like when the H20 Sound Laboratory is being "studied". During the Water Symposium by Hansgrohe the participants of the MMM Workshop gathered on the river bank to make the waters sing.

Read more about the event in the symposium brochure, from page 134 an onwards (pdf, 6 mb) - courtesy of Hansgrohe.