Scientists Have Turned Spider Webs into a Musical Instrument


A couple of years ago, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (also known as MIT) made the technological breakthrough of creating music out of spiderwebs. With help from artist Tomás Saraceno, the team from MIT also managed to create a musical instrument called Spiders Canvas. 


The team was led by scientist Markus Buehler. According to, Buehler studied “Postdoctoral Scholar, 2004-2005; Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) 2004 in Materials Science (Chemistry), Max Planck Institute for Metals Research at the University of Stuttgart, M.S. 2001 in Engineering Mechanics, Michigan Tech, and B.S. Equiv./pre-diploma 2000 in Process and Chemical Engineering, University of Stuttgart.” Along with all of his degrees, Buehler has won 22 awards, including the Leonardo da Vinci Award and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.  


Led by Buehler, the team made an algorithm of 3D architecture from 2D cross-sections to make the V.R. instrument. After that, they took different sound frequencies from various strands to play different patterns of music based on the web’s structure. 


Spiders Canvas is a musical instrument that can be played in virtual reality, also known as V.R. When entering the V.R., Spiders Canvas looks like a room full of 3D spider webs. To play music, the person in the V.R. will pull webs to make different sounds. Once the player finds some combinations they like, the player can create their own music. “The virtual reality environment is really intriguing because your ears are going to pick up structural features that you might see but not immediately recognize,” Buhler stated in an interview with


This interactive musical instrument would not have been possible without the help of artist Tomás Saraceno. Born in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, he is the author of the book Cloud Cities. Saraceno built his first studio in Frankfurt am Main in 2005, which was moved to Berlin in 2012. As stated in, “… working with artist Tomás Saraceno to create an interactive musical instrument, titled Spider’s Canvas. Now the team has refined and built on that previous work, and added an interactive virtual reality component to allow people to enter and interact with the web.” 


Buhler and his team at MIT have bigger plans for the technology they have created. Buhler demonstrated in, “Now we’re trying to generate synthetic signals to basically speak the language of the spider… If we expose them to certain patterns of rhythms or vibrations, can we affect what they do, and can we begin to communicate with them? Those are really exciting ideas.”


All of the videos/songs created by Tomás Saraceno and Buhler’s team from MIT can be found on Markus Buehler’s Youtube Channel. As of today, Spiders Canvas has been released and is open for public use on a V.R.