A yummy banana, brinjal, lady's finger and melon are spread on a table before a group of girls from impoverished and tribal families in Ranchi. As the girls’ fingers temptingly make a touch-and-go on the spread, one by one, a laptop in front of them pumps out piano notes in quick succession.
At a unique workshop barely 20km from the capital, the girls, part of YUWA Trust, are using fruits and vegetables to compose music using a gadget called Makey Makey on their laptops.
Makey Makey is a software that turns everyday objects into touchpads. So, instead of punching on a computer keyboard to play piano, you can hook up MaKey MaKey to bananas or anything that can conduct electricity, with a cable, and it will become your piano keys. So, by vibrating, squeezing or hitting the vegetable of your choice, you can create music. You can load up guitar, or any other instrument, on the the laptop, and the software will turn the taps on vegetables into the instrument's sound.
The workshop was launched on Wednesday where Bhoomi Band fame Surojit Chatterjee flew down from Kolkata to help the girls compose their first song.
"I was bemused by the technology-driven music creation but in the end it was fun striking notes and composing a song with the rural girls," Chatterjee said.
The musical workshop was a joint initiative by YUWA India Trust and Lenovo. Yuwa is an NGO founded by American Franz Gastler who in 2009 randomly picked around150 girls from Ranchi's Ormanjhi area and gave them football training and free education to prevent child marriages rampant in society.
YUWA and Lenovo had on Tuesday launched a website Pitchtoher.com for their national campaign calling on the brightest minds in India to enter ideas to hack the real world issues. Surojit and the girls composed the music and song for a documentary that would be uploaded on the website soon.
"Not all can afford to buy the costly musical instruments," said Lenovo volunteers' team leader Sandip Maiti camping with his team at YUWA premises and giving the girls hands-on training in computer applications.
Gastler on Tuesday said it was a dream to see the girls come up with their own band.
"We are enjoying it to the fullest," said Malati (name changed due to YUWA’s policy of protecting identity of the girls).