Algo.Rhythm – Final Report

by huaishup @ 3:26 pm 11 May 2011

Algo.Rhythm is a physical computing music machine with social behaviors. It consists of a set of drumboxes with can record outside input and replay it in different ways like LOOP, x2SPEED, /2SPEED and so on. By arranging different functional drumboxes in 3D space,users will experience the beauty ofcreating music with algorithm.

INITIAL Inspired by the stunning Japanese drum show KODO in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago, Cheng Xu & I had the idea of re-perform those variational and euphoric drum pattern by using a set of “drum robots”. In the show, there were less then 10 people and each handled one or two drums; everyone’s drum patterns are not very complicate but as a whole, these simple drum patterns mixed together and sounds subtle and amazing.


Taptap is a fantastic project done by Andy Huntington
a couple of years ago. It demonstrate the concept of using modular knock boxes to create drum rhythms. Each knock boxes has a input sensor on top and a stick as an actuator. It will remember every input and repeat the beat once. By physically connect two knock box, it start create complex drum rhythms.   Solenoid Concert

This smart project using MAX/MSP to control different solenoids. The hardware is not complicate but the result is really impressive. CONCEPT We found Taptap is a good start. We share a similar idea to create drum pattern using modular robots. But the different thing is that we are more interested in using different “algorithm” to do this. Our initial plan is to let each drumbox can get drum pattern input from all sides, and has different drum output like LOOP function, x2SPEED function and so on. We also proposed that some of the drumbox should have 2 sticks so that it can pass the drum beat to 2 children simultaneously, like a decision tree. PROCESS To test the idea, I made a processing sketch to do the simulation. The result is pretty good. With only a loop function drum and several x2SPEED drum, we can create a relatively beautiful music rhythm.

For the hardware, we put a lot of thoughts in it. We thought about different housing but finally end up as a cube shaped drum for the reason that a cube is easy to pile up and the shape is organic.

We also designed and made our own arduino compatible board. However, even if we designed and ordered the board 3 weeks before the deadline, we could not get the stuff in time. So in the current prototype, we still using the really big arduino board.




We made 5 different prototypes to test the concept and make it work. Here are some working process photoes:




After experiencing several failures, the final prototype looked like the above image. It has 5 sides that can accept tap input and one or two drum sticks as the actuator. The two boxes with one stick are different functioned. One has the LOOP function, the other has the x2SPEED function.

Though the current version is not very actuate, it can demo the concept of passing drum pattern between different drumboxes. I am pleased with the result after experiencing a really hard and frustrated time.

The next step is to revise the current design to make the drumbox robust and sensitive. And I will surly keep working on it.

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