MIDI Drum Pad Update/20th Century Art Movement Inspiration

My Teensy just arrived in the mail today!  This will allow be to start doing some of the coding that will be included in my final project.  The Teensy uses the mBed platform for coding, so I may need to freshen up on the syntax for this platform, but I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to figure it out.  Luckily, the Teensy has some built in MIDI functionality (built in MIDI out commands) so this should make communicating with a DAW like Ableton pretty easy.  Hopefully I can get this figured out this weekend.

I also went to Colorado Plastics last Friday (every last Friday of the month they have a sale) and picked up some more acrylic for prototyping the body and drum pad assemblies.  I’ve also done a few tutorials for photoshop, so that I can do some engraving on the body of the assembly.

Right now, the aesthetic of my project is being driven by this artist I found on Tumblr who goes by “wimpi”.  I’m pretty into contour line sketching right now, and I really like some of the minimalist contour line sketches wimpi does.  Here’s an example:


The minimalist movement is definitely the movement I’m most interested in in pursuing for my project.  I think the aesthetic really lends itself to electronic musical instruments (especially wooden ones).  Right now, the plan is to make a minimalist wood body for the drum pads.  The front panel will have four minimalist drawings (like the ones above) cut out across the length of the body.  Each of the drawings will have a different primary color led backlighting it (red, blue, yellow, and green) that will illuminate when a corresponding drum pad is hit.

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5 Comments. Leave new

  • Andre Szlendak
    May 2, 2016 7:15 pm

    Looking at your end result and comparing it to the inspiration it’s evident you were able to achieve your intent. The contour simplicity merged with the technological complexity is wonderful. Between the simple input (touch) and output (noise) there’s a lot, but you do a wonderful job minimizing those and keeping things hidden. Upton Sinclair should write a piece on your work.

  • Mathew Tabor
    April 30, 2016 9:04 pm

    Danny brings up a good point; decoration is a bit anti-theme, though maybe that’s just an ironic take. I’m into ironic art, combining two clashing movements or doing what you’re doing, intentionally incorporating non-minimalistic details to an overall minimal design. I think it could work, though maybe would be frowned upon by classical minimalists. Who am I to say? Either way, I’m stoked to see all of the electronics come together, I think if it works this could be awesome.

  • I’m excited to see how this turns out! Having a different color LED for each drum pad will look very nice! I think it would also be nice to photoshop the picture slightly and just alter the picture to match the color of the LED you are planning on matching it to. If you don’t know how to do that, I certainly can do it for you!

  • Daniel Rankin
    April 3, 2016 6:33 pm

    I think the minimalist idea works for the casing of the drum pads as you mention, but I’m not entirely sure how the drawings figure into the over aesthetic of the piece- although those drawings are minimalist, putting drawings on something just for the sake of looking cool is kind of the antithesis of minimalism. That said, I like the drawings, and you can do whatever you think looks cool. Can you post a link to the tumblr that artist?

  • Brittany Warly
    March 31, 2016 8:40 pm

    I am really excited to see how this turns out. I am glad that you have a plan to work on the coding this weekend and that you have already collected some of the materials. It will be interesting to see how the different LED’s light up and I like the minimalist approach you are taking.


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