“babble and touch” installation at Babelut festival, Neerpelt, BE

2015   Interactive tactile sound sculpture installation: “babble and touch” 

The “babble and touch” installation was realized and presented during the Babelut festival in Neerpelt, Belgium. The Babelut festival an international music theatre festival for children and their (grant)parents.

Invited by Musica BE and its partners of the Babelut festival, I was challenged to design and produce a new interactive tactile sound sculpture installation with touch-soundscapes for children (0 – 4) and their parents.

Musica BE, impulse centre for music with roots in traditional music education but broadening their perspective by connecting with contemporary music, soundscape and sound art (including a sound forest) for the broader public of all ages. They organize festivals, educational workshops. For the very young they organize the Babelut festival and workshops, such as Musical Dialogues for babies and toddlers and their parents.     http://www.musica.be/en

I’ve produced four tactile sound sculptures: a softly swinging woollen baby boat, a mobile woollen toddler boat (on little wheels), two woollen quays, an extra woollen step and a bunch of subtle sounding touch fishes for playing around, creating stories, listening, hearing and becoming aware of the sense input including the sounds and words of babies and toddlers. I composed emerging surrounding 6 channel soundscapes with touch-soundscapes: “boat”, “train” and “car”. (totally about 45 min.) When the soundscape changes from “boat” to “train” the sculptures become little woollen sounding trains and the quays become little station platforms with sounds of train stations, etc.

The soundscapes contains sounds from the Belgium location like the sounds of the little river the Dommel, the local trainstation, etc. beside sounds of the sea and city, several sounds of babies, babbles of toddlers, musical sounds and recordings from the Musical Dialogue workshop for the babies and little words and little songs about boat, train and car. Soundscapes that best can be experienced on child level (sound spatialisation), becoming tangible when touching, sitting on the sound sculptures.

The baby boat sculpture produces more subtle sound resonations for very young babies when softly laying or sitting in it but can also be used and experienced by the toddlers. Encouraging young children and their parents to play, discover, experience and babble in a way that corresponds to the development of the senses and language of young children. Touched by the resonating sounds.

“babble and touch”  research (musical) language acquisition

I conducted artistic research on the important periods (0 – 4 year) for child language acquisition; which can’t be separated from the physical -, perceptual-, motor- and social development using the whole body, brain, sense, lungs, mouth and voice to learn to communicate, to hear, to listen, to move, to build, to play, alone or together interacting with the parents. For language acquisition, playful sounding interaction with parents is crucial.

From the age of 5 months, the child, who is still growing in the womb of the mother, can already hear and becomes conscious of the sounds and noises in and outside the womb. They are able to experience tactility, learning to touch with their finger tips together with the development of the other senses. The child absorbs sense-based information and neural connections start to create “sense maps” in the brain.

After birth the child becomes a sound performer it self starting with the primal cry, followed by a more interrupted cry out in the need of food for the mouth, body, brain, skin, heart, touched with love, making all kinds of sounds, starting a playful kirring as the first training for articulation, recognising a “musical” rhythm, singing and playful finding out how to create and pronounce words, building sentences and giving voice to the self. A wonderful development of learning how to use and making sense of live…

From the perspective of a sound image artist it is interesting that elements of inner noise, including sound vibrations created by the organs of the mother, the rhythms of her heart, the melody, intonations of her voice and words including the sounds from outside (as elementary aspects of sound, vibration and music) are already experienced inside but still “modulated” by the body of the mother. After just being born the child recognizes the voice of the mother but is still very open for all kind of nuances in sound and sense information. By growing up it starts to filter this information by tuning in to the (sound) environment, starting to identify and to create the own personal and cultural “multi sensorial hearing perspective”.

The “babble and touch” installation is meant to create more awareness of the multi sensorial surrounding sounds and to trigger playful interaction and babble between babies, toddlers and their (grant)parents.

There was a reflection corner for the children with or without their parent to draw and, or give expression about what they had experienced.

It was great to hear and watch the babies and toddlers with their (grant)parents enjoying the tactile sound sculpture installation and seeing the very young practicing their multi sensory skills for hearing, listening, talking, singing, building, moving, climbing, stepping, touching, playing alone or together while becoming performers themselves.

Try out in toddler group of a child care centre

Before presenting the installation at the Babelut festival there was a successful try out in the Amsterdam child care centre: Prinses Irene. The “babble and touch” installation worked fine in the intimacy of a save and small toddler group space with more reflected sounds in the space and triggering a playful interaction between babies, toddlers, parents and workers of the child care centre.  

The installation “babbel en voel” / “babble and touch” was realized thanks to kindly and financial support of   Musica BE  and  Beste Buren fundings.

The “babbel en voel” / “babble and touch”  installation is still available for presentation! 


At the Babelut festival I also presented the “super sonic sound scape shoes” and the “woollen sea sound sculpture” installations for very small children with their (grant) parents.    Go to information and pictures here.


The World Forum of Acoustic Ecology asked me to write an article about the realization and presentation(s) of the interactive  “babble and touch” installation  at the Babelut festival. The article with more background information, notes, etc. you can find a download here.  (academia.eu).


Later in 2015 :   presentation of  “babbel en voel” / “babble and touch” installation at the Dutch children theater festival  2 Turven Hoog festival in  Almere;  with  remixed touch-soundscapes  corresponding the  local sound habitat. Information and pictures here.


”babbel en voel” / ”babble and touch” in your children centre?!   contact me for possibilities.   here information in Dutch.