Music & 3D Modeling: From James Brown to Architecture – SCOPES-DF

Lesson Details

Age Ranges
Fab-Modeling.2, Fab-Fabrication.2, Fab-Design.2, 11-12.RH.2, 11-12.RH.9, 6-8.RH.3

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Nettrice Gaskins
Nettrice Gaskins
Dr. Nettrice Gaskins has worked for several years in K-12 and post-secondary education, community media and technology before receiving a doctorate in Digital Media from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014. She has focused on the application of cultural art… Read More


Black History Month recognizes the heritage, accomplishments, and culture of African Americans in the United States. In honor of this month, this project combines black music, 3D modeling and laser cutting, architecture and sculpture. Students will convert a music visualization (2D bitmap) into a three-dimensional model using Inkscape, Tinkercad 3D and Slicer for Fusion360 that is turned into an architectural model or sculpture. The inspiration for the project is rhythm and pattern: the music of James Brown and the traditional African American quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama.


Total time: 90 to 120 minutes

What You'll Need

Internet (for watching videos); projector/screen


For the image conversion part of the lesson:


For the 3D modeling part of the lesson:


For laser cutting and assembly:

  • Cardboard or ‘chipboard’ cut to the size of the laser cutter
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks


The Instructions

Learn about how rhythm played an important role in James Brown's music - 8 min

Expose students to the concepts of syncopation, rhythm and pattern through listening to Brown's music


Watch PBS “How James Brown Invented Funk”:


After watching this episode, here is a key takeaway for discussion: JB let the rhythmic pattern drive his singing. How did he use rhythm in his music?

Learn about the rhythm patterns in Gee's Bend quilts and funk music - 10 min

Compare/contrast music visuals with traditional African American quilt making