It’s drumming, the multi-player game. The Drummer is an open-source application for the Nintendo DS handheld, developed by Andrea Bianchi and Woon Seung Yeo and presented alongside a paper earlier this year at the NIME Conference (The International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression). As with any Nintendo homebrew software, you’ll need a special DS cartridge capable of loading software from flash memory – though if this app were developed more, it could make a terrific DSi app.

The idea is this: while making a handheld game system into an instrument, why not take advantage of its networking features? Grab a friend (or friends) with the Nintendo DS, whip up a drum kit that’s to your liking, then play along.

Oddly, while we live in a networked, Internet age, the client-server model rarely gets applied to music. One of the things I try to explain about the protocol OSC (OpenSoundControl), aside from the fact that it doesn’t have to be about sound, is that it’s really a collection of best practices in open networking communication. It’s not simply about connecting devices to one another in serial fashion, as with MIDI, but forming a network – an idea familiar to anyone who uses instant messaging online. True, latency considerations and other complications can add another dimension of challenge. But I think there’s plenty to explore when it comes to networking devices, and it promises to make computer music a less solitary experience. The Drummer is a good step in that direction.

The Drummer project page + NIME paper
Google Code page

Thanks to Andrea for sending this our way!