Modular Rhythm Machine

Modular Rhythm Machine

Nicolas Kisic Aguirre

Category : STUDENT
By Nicolas Kisic Aguirre (Peru)

What did you create?

The Modular Rhythm Machine is a tool to bring to the front questions about the meaning and forces behind rhythmic patterns, synchronicity, syncopation and chaos.

Why did you make it?

The importance of sound and rhythm is manifested in events such as military marches, protests, manifestations of celebration and spiritual rituals. Interested in the relationship between power and amplification / multiplication of sound, this machine was designed and built as a vehicle to explore and discover around such subjects.

How did you make it?

The first prototype for the Modular Rhythm Machine came out of my experience at the Fab Academy 2016, based in Providence, Rhode Island (USA). There, an arts organization called AS220 provided us with a fantastic Fab Lab, as a part of the Fab Lab Network. The ambition to create a self-playing drum unit was documented in my Fab Academy website: http://archive.fabacademy.org/archives/2016/as220/students/108/
Once I entered MIT as a student, I decided to develop this project further. In order to do this, I needed to improve the design, materials and performance as well as have greater ambition. This is how I ended up producing 36 self-playing drum modules, all produced by myself with the help of digital fabrication machines. Laser cutters were essential to the production process. After some metal used to produce some essential pieces was cut with a waterjet machine, finally, the electronics came into the assembly. At least one servo motor attached to a drum stick is essential for the machine’s performance. I also added an ultrasonic proximity sensor, as well as the infrastructure to include the possibility to add additional motors and drum sticks.


  • Mitchell Joachim
    Co-founder, Terreform ONE
    Professor at NYU

    Simple and pleasant and yet it builds up to wonderfly complex rhythms and percussive marching-like sounds.