Initial Research: Electromechanical Sound
For my booth at Syracuse Maker Faire I'm building a robot (read "motorized" - robotic just sounds way better) kick drum and a step sequencer. This document is me sharing my initial research into these areas. I'm also going to try some new-to-me features of Ghost CMS in this post.
For my booth at Syracuse Maker Faire I'm building a robot (read "motorized" - robot just sounds way better) kick drum and a step sequencer. This document is me sharing my initial research into these areas. I'm also going to try some new-to-me features of Ghost CMS in this post.
Why make a robot?
tldr: it's cool.
First, let's talk about why I even want to make a worse drum machine aka a robot drum. I like the idea of electro-mechanical things, and have been thinking about the properties we inherit when we take something digital <-> physical. I can't help but feel something is lost when your interface is purely software (ex. using a DAW with mouse and keyboard vs adding a MIDI keyboard). Initially I wanted a drum machine that you couldn't touch to play maybe making some deeper point on interactivity but that will be shelved for now (like "you can see but can't touch"). Also, I had considered not doing a drum but chimes, but after tapping on tubes at Home Depot with a mallet, I don't have the space for nice sounding chimes (read how to make different scales here). Also, being motorized puts on a spectacle that just a software drum can't do.
Electro-mechanical music examples:
Beep Boop Click Clack
(image: Koka Nikoladze - "Motors, Magnets and Motion: Electronic Music Instruments from the Physical World | Loop")
Here is a collection of electro mechanical music projects that excite me and are an inspiration for this.
- The elephant in the room: Wintergaten's marble machine. This is mechanical but it's my blog, so...
This is the first edition of Wintergaten's marble machine, a fully mechanical one-man-band style of percussion instrument.
2. Robotic Drums:
The industrial design was done by https://www.instagram.com/vega.dstudio/
Electronics by https://www.instagram.com/martingava/
Yo quiro el producto. (It's been a few years since I've used Spanish, that is supposed to say "I want this product"). This is a midi controlled actuator / lever setup. I like this a lot.
3. Abelton - Motors, Magnets and Motion: Electronic Music Instruments from the Physical World
Fascinating work from the intersection of art, mechanics, and sound.
4. Jon Peck's https://null.band/ from Rochester Maker Faire:
This was a mixture of guitar/bass pickups and piezo mics on the bottom of the tube to capture resonance. This was very fun to play with. You can make some wild sounds on those strings.
Drum machines and Sequencers
Drum machines like Roland Tr-808, and sequencers like the Arturia BeatStep are staples in music production now, but let's look at the DIY examples.
- Check out this video on the first drum machine by Look Mum No Computer.
2. Look Mum No Computer again showing how to make an Arduino MIDI sequencer.
Sam's youtube channel is amazing.
3. BABS, made by Inciteco.
@naythmynayth DONE LIVE. Earbuds out now! #beatmakers #foryou #sequencer #fyp ♬ original sound - NAYTH MCQUEEN
This is a huge multi-track step sequencer that they made for ComplexCon.
4. This is a step sequencer tutorial by Nick Poole on Sparkfun:
5. Cassiopeia Ltd's 4 step sequencer tutorial.
This is a very nice tutorial on making a simple step sequencer. He also made a very high quality blog post to go along with it: https://cassiopeia.hk/sequencer/
odds and ends
Recording the natural world can be done with contact microphones like the Cortado Piezo mic:
Steppers themselves can make noise, if you've ever listened to a 3d printer you've heard their song. You can control these frequencies to make music, like Johnothan Kayne did with his interpretation of "Fireflies" by Owl City.
That's it for now. Till next time.