Car Drum

Car Drum was an installation idea that functioned as a concept test for a larger project Mike and I intend on creating later in the year. The goal of this installation was to experience what it would be like to “jam out” in the car with actual instruments and sonic reinforcement from a computer. To accomplish this goal, we designed a simple 2-button system for adding sonic reinforcement to hand drumming on the dash while driving. The buttons were secured into a cardboard mounting system designed to fit the dash of the car, and were wired into an Arduino Leonardo. The Arduino ran a simple program to turn the button presses into keystrokes that were then mapped to different drum hits within the music program Ableton Live. Within the goal of jamming out in the car, we wanted to start experimenting with multiple people jamming at the same time. To test this, we gave the person in the passenger seat a simple MIDI controller with velocity-sensitive drumming pads and routed those to Ableton to control a bell-like synth. Impressions from using the installation. We learned a lot from using this system, ideas and challenges that we hope to incorporate and address in our final project later on. Jamming together was fun, but we ran into some issues that hindered getting to any sort of “flow state” with jamming. One issue was our snare drum button kept double triggering, playing two notes with a press of the button rather than one. The buttons themselves seemed to not be 100% reliable upon hitting them which meant that sometimes you would hit it and they wouldn’t play a sound. There was also a bit of latency between hitting the buttons and hearing the sound that we hope to address. Driving and playing the drums, with their current small size and unpredictability of working proved to be a challenge. While I can confidently drive and hand drum on my dash without the buttons and not have any trouble, adding the buttons made it tough to do both at once. I think if we can successfully address the issues listed above, and make buttons that are easier to hit, we can make something intuitive enough to safely drive and play at the same time. Being in the car driving compared to just sitting at a table was an interesting experience. It invoked memories of "playing" drums to the blinker sound's beat. Allowing for what I always want to be able to happen when I put my blinker on, play the drums. I think many of us wish this was a reality, now we are making it one. But as stated above, the buttons while driving made it very hard to both concentrate on driving and playing the drums, we want to keep the drive safe.