Designing Meaningful Musical Typologies

While selecting the instrument variety has a direct impact on the quality of sounds users can create and experience - placement, and location of the groupings is also critical for enhancing the user experience and increasing the interactions amongst players. The arrangements can be designed in a variety of ways to capture the benefits of the local typology, site dimension, and goals of the project. Some arrangements encourage the outdoor music park to become gathering destinations while others can encourage movement and exploration. Good design carefully considers the site context and goals for the user experience.

Signature-Destinations.jpg#asset:11218Signature Destinations

Clustering instruments together as an intentional destination is a very successful design strategy. It is most useful to arrange instruments in a way that the players can have good eye contact versus having their backs to one another. Depending on the site dimensions, a circle, square, or triangle are preferred grouping shapes. This encourages interactive and cooperative play, where the players can read expressions, share delight, and respond to one another. When creating a park ensemble , accessibility through the instruments works best when they are placed at least four feet apart and installed at optimal reach heights and angles.

Linear Pathway Networks

Creating interesting musical experiences along pathways and trail systems is another viable strategy for encouraging community connectivity, exploration, and movement, all while discovering the joy of creating music along the way.

Performance-Venues.jpg#asset:11216Performance Venues

Intentionally designing music clusters on stages and/or ampitheaters can spur imaginations and invite both programmed and spontaneous performances. When the stage is not being used for a formal performance, it can become an extended open stage for improvisational, creative play and act to further enhance the music experience.

Nature Spaces

Designing music and nature together provides a beautiful and rich multi-sensory experience. Instruments can be placed within a garden to add interest and sound to the plantings and their seasonal colors, textures, and scents. Plantings can also be designed to augment full musical clusters for a more immersive and soothing experience. These special places can often be found in medical or therapeutic settings as meditation or healing gardens and in public spaces for retreat and collaboration.

Play-Spaces.jpg#asset:11217Play Spaces

Musical play areas are commonly placed adjacent to a playground, outside of the use zone of the play structure, creating a rich extension of the developmental and multi generational play value of the environment. Optimal sight lines should be created for visibility and supervision while enhancing the interaction amongst the players.

Mobile or Pop-up Locations

Musical environments are innovative ways to delight and activate public and private spaces and given their ability to be mobile, they are ideal for temporary  or semi-permanent displays. Instruments can be featured a music festivals, concerts, street events, block parties, parklets, grand openings, trade shows and more, as a viable way to engage attendees of all ages.

Animated-Borders.jpg#asset:11219Animated Borders

Many instruments can be wall-mounted versus surface mounted, and can create additional use of spaces that may be currently underutilized. Small spaces such as fences and borders can offer an element of musical surprise and fun. Larger walls or the sides of buildings can come alive with full ensembles to promote artistic displays, cultural themes, educational learning, or science and discovery.

Thinking about an outdoor music venue in your space?

Natural Harmony® provides information benefits of outdoor music accessible to the whole community.

Request program

More in Blog

Related News


May. 21, 2018

Sustaining Outdoor Music Environments

After planning, designing, and installing quality outdoor music environments, consideration should be given to maintenance and care of the instruments.


Jun. 18, 2018

Music and Movement Activities

Time for a rhythmic conversation! Here is a fun way for play leaders, teachers, and parents to get children to participate in a conversation.


Jun. 10, 2019

Amenities to enhance music sites and engage users

To enhance the user experience at your outdoor music environment location, try adding amenities like signage, surfacing, seating, shade/shelter and more.