MR-808: The Real Life Drum Machine


The 1980s are considered to have given birth to modern electronic music. One of the backbones was (and still is) the Roland TR-808, an early programmable drum machine. This iconic piece of hardware has been mimicked, sampled and synthesized countlessly over the past 30 years since its debut yet now Moritz Simon Geist (aka Sonic Robots) has taken this one step further.

Out of tedium of the process of electronic music production, Geist has replicated the TR-808 using triggered robotic arms alongside carefully researched sound sources that mimic the original. The whole process is controlled from a laptop that sends MIDI to an Arduino controller that triggers the various motors and solenoids. The concept behind his idea is that, “A drum beaten by a mechanic robot arm can never be as predictable as a computer generated sound. Consequently, the mechanic character of the installation MR-808 introduces fallibility into the performance.”

The MR-808 is an impressive feat of ingenuity and engineering that combines an organic performance with electronic music yet it is doubtful that we’ll be seeing these taking centre stage in clubs in the immediate future.

MR-808 - mechanic drum robot from Sonic Robots on Vimeo.


Source: Sonic Robots

Sam Ziajka