Up a full step

By Phil Plait | October 11, 2009 12:00 pm

Need a smile on a Sunday? This may help.

It sure made me smile. And I wonder… are there any stairs with 88 steps? That might make a good opportunity for a flash concerto.

Tip o’ the well tempered spandex to Fark.


Comments (31)

Links to this Post

  1. Flashes from home « Sport and Tech Geek | October 12, 2009
  1. The excercise is good, but it’s the smiles that really count. More funtheory, please.

  2. Skippidy

    Thanks for sharing. First time at this blog, any blog, really. Maybe fun will change my opinions of blogs. *smile*

  3. Amber

    This did make me smile! Thanks!

  4. I’d take those stairs! Fun is important. Thanks for the smile Phil!

  5. DrFlimmer

    Too bad that it is an advertisment. Still, good idea. One should really try this on a bigger scale, a real scientific experiment (and it must run longer than, say, a week – it is important to see if it begins to bore people….)

    Still: A good ending of the weekend ūüėÄ

  6. There’s a set of musical stairs at our local science centre (W5 in Belfast) – great fun. Although theirs aren’t laid out to look like a piano. I feel cheated now. :)

  7. Next step: Number the “keys” and put some posters on the wall with simple song instructions.

    And, as DrFlimmer points out, I’d be curious of after a few weeks people start to avoid the stairs because they’re annoyed at the sound.

  8. The Other Ian

    Nifty idea, but will people still be using the stairs a month later when it’s gotten old?

  9. Thomas

    Here is another one from the same people, called the worlds deepest garbage can:

  10. Bill from Fallbrook

    Just got back from Boston where the museum of science has a similar set up. My brief observation seemed to indicate that children were more likely to take turns than work together. It is amusing to watch though.

  11. J. D. Mack

    I would absolutely fall and break my neck trying to play actual tunes on these stairs!

    J. D.

  12. Tim

    It’s just a matter of time before we see a stairway performance of Rach 3 or Tchaik 1…I hope!

  13. Cindy

    I can imagine some demented coach telling his/her atheletes that instead of running stadiums, they had to “run” a particularly fast piano piece.

    How about a stairway version of Mussoursky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (piano version, not the Ravel orchestral transcription)?

  14. Jon B

    First the drive-by subway animation and now this. We need more interactive public art projects in the US — nice little surprises to shake commuters out of their dull days and make them smile.

    @14: “How about a stairway version of Mussoursky‚Äôs Pictures at an Exhibition”

    That would be one hell of an aerobic workout. Although “Stairway to Heaven” just begs to be adapted.

  15. Gary Ansorge
  16. jick

    I think the opening theme of Pictures at an Exhibition contains an octave (upward) leap in its melody?

    Yes, that will be one hell of an exercise to play on stairs. If anybody manages it, please post it on Youtube. ūüėõ

  17. 13. Tim Says: “It‚Äôs just a matter of time before we see a stairway performance of Tchaik 1.”

    But only if the player is in a straightjacket and stuffed in a canvas mail sack.

    – Jack

  18. davem

    Need to abandon the piano keys, and make a tune if you go up one stair at a time, a better tune if you go up two at a time,and a grand concerto if you run up three at a time…

  19. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    It’s Monday, but thanks anyway. :-)

    it must run longer than, say, a week ‚Äď it is important to see if it begins to bore people

    Yes, what was tested was more like a novelty.theory than a fun.theory@stairs. Even so, one can imagine changing stair novelty every now and then. Interactive stairs would be a hoot.

    (For example, hip hop contests against a video screen would really be an opportunity to “break a leg”.)

    [Btw, the rational way to get people walking in stairs is to shut down the escalators. Considering the sponsors/advertisers was a car company, one wonder why they didn’t try to spice up traveling by horse carts?]

  20. Ramblindude

    Climbing these stairs is a good way to tone up.

    I’m sorry.

  21. Gary Ansorge

    I expect this could become a new sport, mixing music with extreme acrobatics. Can you imagine someone doing Flight of the Bumble bee on this?

    Makes me sweat just thinking about it.

    GAry 7

  22. Gamercow

    I’ve been loving the musical stairs at the Boston Museum of Science for at least 15 years, so this is not new to me. The musical stairs are at the exit to the IMAX theater, so you get lots of people exiting at once. If enough notes are played at once, you get interesting things like owl hoots, and duck quacks. Fun stuff!

    Oh, and this NEVER gets old. Every time I go to the BMoS, I play on the stairs.

  23. Merijn

    Brilliant, just brilliantly funny!

  24. JB of Brisbane

    I seem to remember that on the old Dean Martin Show, Dino’s set had a high platform above the normal stage level, accessed by a set of stairs painted as piano keys. The main differences were each step was painted as a complete keyboard, and they did not produce any sound. I don’t think the technology existed back then.

  25. Sili


    I normally take the stairs, but I suspect that that noise would make me selfconscious and push me towards the escalator to avoid causing a fuss. Interesting to see that Swedes in general are apparently less shy.

  26. another Josh

    Dang. The staircase at the Capitol South Metro station in Washington DC is only 80 steps (4 sets of 20 steps). Not quite enough for the 88 steps needed for a full keyboard. I count them every time I take the stairs, but it only takes 40 steps if I’m walking up the moving escalator.

  27. Geomaniac

    The Minnesota Science Museum in St. Paul also has a musical staircase. Alas it is not painted like piano keys. It was fun though. My wife and I had the grandest time playing on those stairs, and we didn’t even have any kids with us!

  28. Jon

    we wanted the monkeys to press the button, so we made it shiny – drivers wanted

  29. Jojo

    I’m holding out for a violin in which each string is attached to dogs leash and can pinpoint a dog’s precise location by the note they sound. Eventually,teaching the dogs to run and play in a precise way to produce actual music, although hard rock would be my choice if this fantasy ever comes true.


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