Hardware Archaeopteryx (MIDI Drum Improviser)

I've come up with a new UI concept for probability-based drum machines. It's more intuitive than anything I've seen on the market.

This process began many years ago, when I built a system to automatically improvise drum beats by programming them in Ruby as probability matrices.

I showed this system at Ruby conferences a few times and it was a lot of fun. But obviously the UI was not intuitive at all for the average musician, producer, and/or DJ.

At the time, there weren't a lot of drum machines that had probabilistic features. These days, the concept is more well-known. But even today, the experience of setting probabilities is not that much more intuitive than what I had in 2008 with stacks of raw numbers in a text editor.

So I came up with a couple plans to create a hardware version. I wanted to make it simpler and more fun to use. My big plan was to represent probabilities as colors rather than numbers.

I kicked this idea around for several years, until finally I attended a workshop on creating hardware instruments, and I built it.

I had to make some design sacrifices for practicality, and it wasn't as durable as I wanted it to be. I'm hoping to build a new version at some point, with better durability, hardware MIDI (not just USB), and sound generation (not just MIDI control).

For now, though, this is the video I made for my workshop, where I explain how it works.