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MR-808 Naturalizes the TR-808 Synthesizer

by Lambert Varias
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Moritz Simon Geist has an unusual name. He’s also a electronic musician who has been getting bored with the production of electronic music, probably because the technology has reached a stage when you can call up practically any instrument with virtually no effort. So he decided to make a drum machine that plays samples in real-time, using actual drums. And robots.

mr-808 robot installation by moritz simon geist

Geist decided to emulate the legendary Roland TR-808, the drum machine that kickstarted the careers of many artists, despite – or is it because of? – the fact that it doesn’t sound like any real drum kit. The TR-808 uses analog circuits to create its sounds, but Geist’s installation replicates these sounds physically via percussion instruments, hence the name Mechanical Replica-808, or MR-808. The real kicker here is that Geist doesn’t play the instruments himself; he built robots that he triggers with the help of an Arduino microcontroller and Ableton, a music software. Then he housed the robots in an oversized case that resembles the TR-808.

Now that’s a high tech emulation of a low tech gadget. Check out Geist’s blog for more details on his creation.

[via Hack A Day]

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