Okay, first imagine that you can control drums with sound. Not a new idea; audio-driven software has been around for a while. Now imagine that the software is intelligent enough to learn from the sound input it hears. Bang a desk, clap your hands, hit your head against the wall, slap someone you don’t like repeatedly with a fish — it’ll adjust itself to the input. That’s the vision of a new project called BillaBoop.

The creator writes CDM to tell us more about it:

Hi, My name is Amaury Hazan. I’d like to introduce a software I have developed.

BillaBoop is a real-time audio driven drum controller which allows the user to control up to 3 drum instruments. The user can control any drum synth with the voice (beat box), or any object or musical instrument. Unlike other audio-driven systems wich require a lot of parameter tuning to be able to discriminate the sounds you are playing, BillaBoop incorporates an efficient Machine Learning component which enables the system to learn by demonstration.

Right now, this is just a technology demonstration, but it works on Mac, PC, and Linux, and could eventually be built into all sorts of other tech. It works in real-time, and recognizes up to three distinct kinds of sounds at a time. (Think, bang your friend with the fish, then kick your desk, then knock your head into a wall. You could assign one to a hat, one to a snare — well, you get the idea.) As Amaury suggests, drum controllers are only the beginning; other possibilities include music sequencing, games, interactive installations, sound-sensitive lighting, and so on.

Amaury had some talented folks in his thank you list, including plug-in developer Bram de Jong and music technologist Xavier Serra. He himself is a PhD student in Machine Learning, Music Cognition and Audio Signal Processing at Music Technology Group, a department of Pompeu Fabra University.

BillaBoop [Project Page]

Long-time readers will recognize a resonance between this project and Georgia Tech’s robot drummer Haile we featured some time ago, which analyzed rhythms so it could play “duets” with human musicians:

Robot Drummer Responds to Human Playing; How They Did It

  • Ah, music tech, your growing power leaves me lonelier everyday. Now I really don't need a drummer!

    I kid. This is really great, I am tiring of 4 bar loops and random Autechre beats. Now to apply the machine learning so it responds to another melodic instrument, and I can jam to my heart's content.

    Those Barcelonians are hardcore, take a look at the rest of their shenanigans:


  • Awesome.

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  • This is a good step to what I need.

    I just wanna scream at my computer: "Ya gotta have da bass ta pimp dat cash money ghetto shit." and have a hit pop out. Then I'll say "Select boyband from Myspace to perform hit" and "Deposit money in St. Kitts account".

    Make a song by speaking into a mic: "Dhin – Dhin – Dha Ge, TeRe KeTe Tun – Na -, Kat – Ta – Dha Ge, TeRe KeTe Dhin – Na – Motherfu*ker ya ya New York Style" and it should make a 'bing' sound when your song is baked.

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  • Des

    Wow, that's really close to Koen's demo of his KTDrumTrigger plugin (at the bottom of the page.) Was Koen on Amaury's thank-you list too?

  • JustMe

    Can someone share the download link for BillaBoop v1.0?

    I tried http://www.iua.upf.es/~ahazan/BillaBoop/BillaBoop

    But it isn't working!!

  • nonstatic


  • @des:

    You are more than right, I should mention Koen's KTDrumtrigger and Miller Puckette's

    bonk on the website (actually I used to mention them in the old website). I'll restore the link page ASAP!

    However, BillaBoop comes with new features that make the usage much easier 🙂 "Switch on, learn, play"

  • Brian

    when i visit the above link for downloading billaboop http://www.iua.upf.es/~ahazan/BillaBoop/BillaBoop

    it tells me that the download is no longer available, or doesn't exist

    is there a new link, i want this very badly!

  • mickey la

    fyi bonk~ has also this switch on, learn, and play feature, and has been used for many musical pieces with complex setups. So you might also want to consider using bonk for your projects.

    Look here:
    there is also a version for Pure Data.

    Since the idea is not new at all, and many people have developped similar software, that would be nice to know how billaboop compares to other (older) similar projects.

    Any ideas?