Sophisticated drumming is here. Practice your polyrhythmic ideas, folks. Image: Julián Rodriguez Orihuela.

DIY lovers and drum machine nuts alike should be very excited by what our friend Wesen has been up to lately. Working on his projects MidiCommand and MonoJoystick, two hackable boutique music hardware gadgets for MIDI control and joystick manipulation of MachineDrum, respectively, he’s built a powerful MIDI library integrated with the Arduino development environment.

Say what?

Well, it means three things, basically:

1. There’s an evolving library of MIDI goodness with the friendliness of the Arduino, but built to do things you need to do in the real world (as tested by Wesen’s hardware and musical needs)!

2. We have drum machines doing fantastic, tasty polyrhythms.

3. The MidiCommand MonoJoystick are going to seriously rock.

Library feature set in a nutshell – and why I’m so excited:

  • MIDI I/O via MIDI connectors or USB
  • Display to a “GUI” (read: a screen for your DIY project)
  • Tools built right into the library for MIDI sequencing, scaling, mapping, functions, LFOs … wow.
  • Works with MachineDrums
  • Tight MIDI Clock and sync – meaning you could build a DIY project and use it as a clock source for your software rig, if you like
  • External storage

Even if that means nothing to you in that you don’t have time to build your own project, this means you could benefit from kits and boutique gear that take advantage of these functions – like the brilliant hardware Wesen himself is working on. And if you have dreamed of building your own gear like this, you’ll have some powerful new tools (including hacking the Ruin & Wesen gear, leaving them to sort out the tough part sourcing and hardware design issues).

Wesen is sharing all his code, so I could imagine this evolving into something very useful for other projects. As it happens, I’ve also been watching an evolving perfect storm of fantastic, open music hardware – more on that in the coming months of 2009. (For starters, how about this evolving step sequencer?) If these projects can mature and begin to converge, I think we could see a real revolution in the gear we use for noisemaking and control, not only for DIY nerds who love the smell of solder fumes (guilty), but novices, as well.

My New Years’ Resolution: make all this as accessible to y’all as possible, regardless of your knowledge level (which means catering both to those of you who are brand new to this, as well as those of you who know way, way more than I do so you’re at least hooked up with the awesomeness).

A peek into MidiDuino with some code samples

More MidiDuino with juicier details

  • papertiger

    I've always wanted to try my hand at customizing controllers, etc. but with zero programming background (except for a brief affair with csound) I've quit before even starting.

    As wesen was kind enough to post his slides from his talk in Berlin, i'm hoping that he will continue to be generous with his time and "how-tos" so people like me can at least dip their toes in the water once they get their grimy hands on the finished units!


  • Excellent stuff! Big props to daswesen for sharing his work and making it easier to get started with custom midi projects.

    I wonder if OSC will start to feature in the ruin-wesen projects. At the STEIM jamboree one of the speakers was Andy Schmeder. He's working on uOSC (micro OSC). Here's a video. And the uOSC home is here.

  • @Basement Hum: also sounds like a great topic. That Bitwhacker actually looks quite nice; sounds like a good basis for uOSC projects.

    On Arduino, I'd ideally want an Ethernet connection for OSC, I think, though it sounds like you can transmit over USB-as-serial, too. There's this for Ethernet, of course:

    I thought ultimately the Ethernet Arduino made it out of the door, but it seems … not?

    But yes, lots of advantages to plain-old MIDI for this particular project. And papertiger, I love the idea of easy getting-started guides … stay tuned. 🙂

  • usedtobe

    sounds fantastic! but where are these libraries? coming soon maybe?
    midi in and out from arduino and processing(hint hint peter)is baaaadaass, but tricky as far as i know(hint hint peter). bet these libraries will help.

  • Yup, will be up online in a few, it's still quite work in progress, and I'm really busy in Berlin and having a few gigs lined up for new years eve. Looking to being home and finalizing the whole stuff though.

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  • How do you get that little borderless floating video capture window in the screencast?

  • Aha – ScreenFlow. Yep, nice program yeah.

    Anyway, love the stuff these guys are putting out – I'm using the RWMidi library for loads of stuff already.. Just wish I had the workshop required to build decent casings for putting together this sort of hardware stuff

  • screen flow is very nice. Now I need to get my audio setup up to par, i'm ashamed of all the fan background noise and similar things. Thanks for the kind words 🙂

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