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Babbage Drum Machine

Mechanical drum machine in the spirit of the Babbage Engine
  (+42, -6)(+42, -6)(+42, -6)
(+42, -6)
  [vote for,

Drum machines are so physically boring. This performance-oriented drum machine plays a real drum kit, and has big audience-visible levers and knobs to set the beats on which each drum/cymbal are hit, and how hard.

Must have been done by now, no? Actually, on the Fred Frith album Gravity, there's a drum part that must have been done with some kind of machine, though less sophisticated -- it's hammering on a tomtom that gradually gets impossibly fast and clearly isn't an electronic drum machine.

syost, Mar 10 2000

Large Hot Pipe Organ (LHPO) http://www.lhpo.org/
Definitely NON-boring Midi-controlled Percussion [land, Mar 10 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Captured! By Robots http://capturedbyrobots.com/
[f_kedge], this is more like a band of robots touring with a human than a band of humans touring with a robot, but... [jutta, Mar 10 2000]

Livesexact http://www.boston.c..._comes_alive+.shtml
Oh yeah! This band has imagination: To add to the visual effect, Livesexact made a drum kit out of stuffed animals: a leopard, tiger, cow, frog, hedgehog, gorilla, and bunny, to be exact. Baird cut off the tops of the stuffed animals' heads and implanted drum pads that triggered, via computer, hundreds of samples: a snare drum, a screech, cricket chirps, Polynesian chants. To trigger loops - two- or three-second samples, including some spoken sound bites - they used the same technique with swinging targets covered in Astroturf. When someone bonks one of the animals or targets, it produces a noise and flashes a video image; a different set of sights and sounds is programmed for each song. [syost, Mar 29 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Ballet Mechanique http://www.onepotme.../000998.html#000998
Just learned of Antheil's Ballet Mecanique from Steve Himmer's weblog. [syost, Oct 04 2004]

Monkey Drummer by Chris Cunningham http://www.designbo...ezia/cunningam.html
Wherein a many-limbed monkey machine hybrid thing plays the drums. [calum, Oct 04 2004]

Animusic: "Drum Machine" http://www.animusic.com/drum-machine.html
[krelnik, Oct 04 2004]


       <grin> I LOVE this idea...Huge clockwork monstrosity sitting behind the band, gears and springs clicking as it drums, the 'drummer' pulling levers and turning wheels to match the song...I'm greatly demophobic, but I'd go to a concert to see this...
StarChaser, Mar 16 2000

       Great idea, but the name's wrong, I feel... Sure it'd have to be "The Rhythm Engine"?
gimboidz, Jun 20 2000

       Then people would think it was a band that played on Soul Train in the 70's or something...<grin> I like the original name better...
StarChaser, Jun 20 2000

       This would be wicked. But expensive. My biggest problem with drum machines is the sound. They are usually so sterile. I love the sound of live drums. Part of what makes that sound so nice is that a drum never sounds exactly the same twice, depending on where the drummer hits it, how hard, what kind of sticks they use, technique etc. Why hasn't anyone taken the idea of 'physical modelling' synths and applied it to drum machines?
someguy, Jun 22 2000

       Steam powered would add some nice qua.   

       For indoor performance boiler should be electrically heated to avoid premature departure of performer and audience.
Dr Dave, Jun 26 2000

       How about a MIDI-equipped theatre organ? I have seen such a thing, and if combined with a MIDI drum sequencer you should get much the effect you're seeking.
supercat, Jun 27 2000

       I read a great book a while ago called The Listening Book, by composer/pianist/teacher W. A. Mathieu. It's a series of mini-essays---extended thoughts, really---about the nature of sound and listening. In one part, he said he'd love to assemble a bunch of huge, very loud mechanical sound-making machines; place them at one end of a valley; then set them in motion and listen to them from the other end of the valley, so they could barely be heard. What a fun idea. Similarly, I enjoy setting my clock radio to a heavy-rock station---turned way down low. Is it just the irony? Or that notion of loudness without volume?
Ander, Jun 28 2000

       I have a similar idea involving motion detection and interpretive dance. It would be easy to rig, but a bear and a half to program. Basically different movements would trigger different drum/synth effects, and the quality of the movement would modulate the waveform. Not much for recording, but as live performance art? If done correctly, the 808 might finally have its "killer app" 8->
kix4trids, Jun 29 2000

       [kix4trids], talk to David Rokeby. You're describing what his "Very Nervous System" felt like, although not quite how it worked...
jutta, Jun 29 2000

       When you say a bear and a half to program - of course you could (politically uncorrectly) have a bear make the music. In addition to making the music, it would be very entertaining to watch. Of course, if the bear itself was a computer controlled automaton.........wow computers creating music? You could market it as 'Dancing Bear Drum Machine' or may be 'The Simon Smith Drumkit'??
goff, Jul 17 2000

       The original idea remains the best, I think.
milroy, Aug 12 2000

       Land, re the link: Oh man, what an amazingly cool thing that is...<grin> I'd love to see it...Would never fly in America, though, some idiot would climb up to look down a pipe while it was in use and get his face burned off, and people would think this was a BAD thing...
StarChaser, Aug 12 2000

       I'm with someguy, in that I have a preference for "analog" drummers. This doesn't mean I think this is a bad idea - might even spawn a new genre of music: Cyber-Goth? Techno-Victorian?
Scott_D, Aug 13 2000

StarChaser, Aug 13 2000

       There is a band out there who tours with an animatronic robot behind the drums beating out the rhythm. Bound to be some levers, pots, push-pulls on the back of that sucker. Anyone know which band I'm talking about?
f_kedge, Aug 14 2000

       Thanks, jutta! Captured! by Robots seems incredibly spectacular- I'd love to catch a show. Reminds me of good old weird punk rock obsessions with aliens and robots. Check out In/Humanity.
f_kedge, Aug 18 2000

       Because A) it's a cool idea, and B) until a couple days ago, nobody knew it was even close to being baked? And while 'Captured by Robots' is amusing, it's hardly what the original idea was...Much better than some of the lame 'let's invent something that already exists' things that have been showing up lately, though...
StarChaser, Aug 26 2000

       Am I the only one that sees this for what it is? Basically what he wants to do is take a digital drum machine, and turn it into an analog drum machine. It's like having a preference of 8-tracks over CDs because of the sound quality, or like preferring movies on a VCR to those played on a DVD player. I will admit, drum machines of the past were not nearly as accurate to true sound as they are today, but in answer to what someguy asked in the fourth response to this invention, they ARE using physical modeling in drum machines. Todays drum machines (as well as almost all other electronic instruments) are sounding more and more real, with sounds that do mimic the way a drum sounds different when hit in different places. Also, sysost, the hammering on the tomtom you were talking about was quite likely done with sampling. I don't know who Fred Frith is, but sampling is especially likely if he is a techno artist. Sampling would be much more effective for something like that than building a robot would be.
djhotsauce, Nov 29 2000

       djhotsauce, re-read the original post...the emphasis is not at all on the sound quality of the drum machine, it's totally on how it looks ("big audience-visible levers and knobs").   

       I think this would be really cool, epecially if the machine itself made noise (like if it was steam powered, per DrDave's annotation) that could rhythmically mesh with the sound of the drums (I'm imagining something that sounds like the beginning of Billy Joel's "Allentown" except more rockin')
PotatoStew, Nov 29 2000

       Please re-read the original idea, user2.   

       The point is not to make sound, that's just a side effect. The point is to be interesting on stage. To look good. Drum machines don't. Big, clunking robots do.
jutta, Nov 29 2000

       This is truly awesome. Imagine if you had SEVERAL of said machines....... Imagine if they could come together like Voltron to make an enormous beat-delivering machine! "Dyna-Cymbals Powered, Mecha-Snare Engaged, ready to form BeatTron!"   

       I can think of something else it would need: A la digital-flip style alarm clock, it would have to have to be able to display the time signature it's currently playing in, as well as the tempo.
Wes, Jan 31 2001

       Forget about a mechanical machine that plays a drum kit made for humans. Humans are restricted by physical limitations. Humans are puny. Imagine a machine with pneumatically powered sledgehammers delivering rhythmic, punishing blows to a dumpster. Strips of rubber attached to a spinning wheel create a synchopated beat on the hood of a car. Electric solenoids collide with anvils, and squealing v-belts create a stilted harmony. Imagine breaking glass. Lots of breaking glass. The human's eyes becoming irritated from the diesel fumes, but the human cannot stop dancing.   

       Billy Joel's "Allentown"?? No. No, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No.
xrayTed, Jan 23 2002

       This reminds me of the manifesto "The Art of Noises".
Mr_Thundercleese, Mar 09 2002

       Been awhile since I've checked this. xrayTed, you rule! But your idea is something like the awesome-sounding LHPO (see link).
syost, May 21 2002

       Though not played by humans in real time, something like this is fatured in the Animusic (animusic.com) short "Drum Machine". Their DVD has several variations on this theme. They appear from time to time on "Eye Drops" on TechTV.
sdpinpdx, Mar 19 2003

       Yes, there's a clip from the Animusic piece "Drum Machine" online. See link. (WTAGIPBAN)
krelnik, Oct 16 2003

       I dint go through the megabytes of resopnses, so i dont know if any1 has had this idea. How about modifying it into a Midi device like some Pianos? (Midi devices can play songs that can be disgined on computer.)
kamathln, Mar 07 2005

       + I wonder how they'd list the drummer on the album credits?
Zimmy, Aug 18 2005


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