The Drum Machine: Interactive Beats for All

If you've ever been at a show and wished you could tap into the creative energy to make music with your friends, then you have an idea of the itch that The Drum Machine scratches. An interactive installation, the Drum Machine lets users jam out beats together. Check out a video of The Drum Machine in action, including footage from Glastonbury 2011:

You can learn more about The Drum Machine and its creators at its official website.

Additionally, we spoke to Tom Gilbert and Steve Savage from the project - here is what Steve had to say about Max for Live and The Drum Machine:

Max for Live is used extensively within 'The Drum Machine' and without it we would not be able to achieve the same kind of functionality we needed within Ableton Live.

Max for Live has enabled us to create our own devices which have the same look and feel as a real Live device, but built specifically for use with our custom MIDI hardware that 'The Drum Machine' needs to work.

We have created one device which acts as a master automap device, which takes the MIDI data coming from 'the Drum Machine' and assigns it to specific controls within Live.  So the headache of manually mapping has been removed. The beauty of this device is that we also have visual feedback of all the parameters being controlled by the users on 'The Drum Machine' at anytime, in realtime.  Also within this device we can have access to the tracks MIDI Clips and have built a count down timer that can periodically clear all the MIDI notes inside a track's MIDI Clip, this can be of a chosen set of beats or bars.

As we are running only one computer with 'The Drum Machine', we needed to be able to show what was happening inside of Live when a user touched one of the many controls.  So with Max for live we were able to create six floating devices, which could be dragged and made full screen over one of the six visual displays that adorn each 'Drum Machine' station.  This is great as it has enabled us to re-create a simplified version of live to show on each display.

This device gives the user a visual display of:

- the parameters being controlled (with names and values)
- the notes currently being recorded into the tracks midiclip via either the drum pads or keyboards
- the currently selected instrument chain
- the track's record state
- the beat count of the MIDI Clips

We have also been able to incorporate a dynamic text box on each display.  This shows a specified tracks midiclip name, which we can change on the fly to send messages to the users, a great little feature to give users a additional mode of interaction with 'The Drum Machine' experience!