The Music Mix Train aims to show children how complex musical compositions are created from smaller, simpler parts. A band or orchestra is divided into logical sections (percussion, bass, guitar, piano, etc), each section is sampled as a short loop, and each loop is assigned to a car in the set. Each car effectively becomes a section of the band or orchestra, and pushing that car around the track is analogous to scrubbing a timeline in a music player. As a car is pushed, it plays its loop at the speed and direction it moves along the track. Sensors in each car determine its position and motion, which is conveyed wirelessly to a central receiver and playback system housed in a building designed to look like a station. This structure houses a speaker and is the source of the sound. It can be reprogrammed for different musical styles and compositions.
Train cars can also be linked together, which is the crux of the design. Cars not linked will play in discord with one another as they are pushed along the track, creating a cacophonous, unpleasant sound. If they are linked, as determined by sensors embedded in each car, their loops will synchronize and a richer, more complete composition will be heard. More cars can be added to incorporate more band sections and more complexity.