Mark Crosbie’s ‘SoundMachine‘ is a drum sequencer that creates music using LEGO bricks. The interactive music tool connects to the LEGO Mindstorms NXT to scan sets of drum “notes,” which are actually 2×2 LEGO bricks arranged in four tracks of eight beats on a 32×32 LEGO plate. The NXT uses four color sensors to detect the color of the bricks as the plate is scanned in. This information is converted to MIDI note messages by a controller written in Processing, which are then sent to Ableton Live to play the sounds.
The different colors of the LEGO bricks on the plate represents a different command for the sequencer. White tiles are used to separate the notes and the sensors use a black reading to detect the start and end edge of the plate. The sensor can detect six basic colors, which leaves red, yellow and green to encode notes. Watch the video below to see the ‘SoundMachine’ in action: