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Jean Piché, Olivier Bélanger, James Bergstra, Nathanaël Lécaudé, Adrian Martin, Eric Lamothe


A music and sound exploration application for the OLPC

The latest screenshot of TamTam Edit as released for the B2 machine

TamTam is a suite of three music and sound related activities for the XO. TamTam is written in python with some C functions for speed-critical services. The audio engine for TamTam is Csound.

TamTam Jam  
is the music performance activity. It is aimed aimed at younger children. One chooses amongst dozens of different sounds that can be played polyphonically on the XO keyboard. There is a small "beatbox" to generate rythms and a simple sequencer to record short snippets of keyboard playing. Collaborative playing on a shared synchronised drum pulse is operational since Build 542.
TamTam Edit 
is a page driven event sequencer featuring a powerful music generator, a colorful and intuitive graphical interface to create, modify and organise notes on five virtual “tracks”, a palette of close to a hundred sounds and a music construction model that allows virtually limitless variations in all musical styles.
is an advanced application for older children who are ready to venture into sophisticated sound design. synthLab is a physics lab and sound synthesiser modelled on Max/MSP.

Read the TamTam Release Notes for current release notes.


  • Provide children with a culturally-informed environment for making music and sound on the OLPC;
  • Provide an Bold text客家话科技铝合金框嘉陵江kll


  • Jean Piché
  • Olivier Bélanger
  • James Bergstra
  • Nathanaël Lécaudé
  • Adrian Martin
  • Eric Lamothe

TamTam is an educational application

Music is often described as the purest form of mathematical representation, driven instinctively by the human mind. It connects between people in many ways, and offers ways for expressing non-verbal emotion. In that sense music is related to problem-solving and communication.

On a more practical level, TamTam helps explore and explain ideas connected with sequences, fractions, repetition, transposition, and representation, all of which are helpful for an intuitive understanding of mathematics and many aspects of scientific enquiry. In the realm of applied physics, TamTam proposes tools to explore the phenomenon of sound and show how the manipulation of physical quantities have a direct effect on what is heard. A child's first physics lab starts with making sounds.


This sound section provides information on the sound bank that will be used in TamTam. In addition to the sound bank, users will be able to record short samples using the internal microphone of the OLPC computer.

Release Notes

  Included page TamTam Release Notes [edit]  

B4/Trial-2 Release Notes for TamTam activities

TamTam includes four activities: miniTamTam, TamTamJam, TamTam Edit, and synthLab.
  • Microphone recording fully functional in TamTamJam
    • Do NOT suspend the XO while using TamTam. A very unpleasant sound will result when you resume. This problem will be fixed in Trial-3.
    • Occasionally TamTam will not restart when you have just quit it. Allow up to 20 seconds between launches.
General recommendations 
What follows is a series of considerations and suggestions about TamTam.
  • Do play around with the properties window. It allows to change individual sounds, full tracks or full pages.
  • Do play with the Generation window. Its a little obscure presently but it can generate quite extraordinary music.
  • Do try a lot of different instruments.
  • Do experiment with synthLab. Its a little complicated for kids presently and needs to have complete sound design tutorials but an adult should be able to figure it out. The keyboard works the same way it does in miniTamTam.
  • There is a quantizing sequence recorder in miniTamTam. Left-click on the record button will start recording on the next down beat and keep going until the drumloop has completed a full cycle. Right click allows you to record on top with another track. Note: the drum has to be playing for the sequencer to work.



We have a channel called #tam_tam on the Freenode network.

External Links

Functional Test

Start the TamTam activity.

Click on the icon on the left, miniTamTam. Click on a few different sounds and use the QWERTYUI keys to ensure that the interface and sounds are working properly. Use the X in the lower right hand corner to exit from miniTamTam.

Close the activity; make sure it closes properly.

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