Senior Project: Will Greenberg Introduces “melomuse”

will1 It’s an exciting time at Ross as many members of the senior class complete their Senior Projects and are busy making final tweaks in preparation for the exhibition on January 22.

As the culmination of a student’s learning experiences at Ross, the Senior Project is an intense process that starts in the summer before senior year. Students begin by selecting a subject and working with a faculty mentor to scope out an action plan and determine the tools and materials they will need to complete their project. Often, as is the case with Will Greenberg ’15, students learn new, related skills as part of the journey.

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Will is passionate about the piano. He taught himself to play by ear a few years ago and recently began composing his own music. “I get into a different mindset, and I’ll often play before doing homework or tackling a difficult task,” he says. The part he didn’t like was the difficult process of learning to tickle the ivories. So for his Senior Project, he combined a love of music with his technical skills to build a product that anyone can play, without the learning curve.

His research led him to program a digital step sequencer, a tool used by DJs and producers to make music. He used Arduino as the microcontroller for the sequencer; Adafruit's Trellis platform as an interface; and a synth app for the iPad to create the sound. He added lights and mashed together some code, and the result was “melomuse.” “‘Melo’ because it speaks to a relaxed and mellow experience, and ‘muse’ to indicate a creative interpretation and music,” Will said.

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His mentor for the project is Dan Roe, Media Studies teacher at Ross. Will also picked up coding skills and key technical knowledge in the Innovation Lab @Ross, studying with Urban Reininger, director of Instructional Technology, and Dr. Dave Morgan, dean of Science and Innovation Lab director.

Will said it’s fun to watch people playing his melomuse, and he recently showed it to his 92-year-old grandfather at Thanksgiving dinner. “He pressed a few buttons, and then sat back and watched. That’s also the beauty of this. It’s programmed in advance to play a certain sequence. So you can play as much as you want or as little as you want, and you still get a great experience,” Will said.

With the product complete, Will is now making minor improvements, such as adding a stand and playing around with lighting configurations. “It’s been a challenging process, but ultimately so rewarding. Melomuse is unique, is entertaining, and makes beautiful music,” he said.