How to improve on the Roland TR-909, the iconic drum machine that’s been a bedrock of dance music for nearly three decades?
Make it six times bigger, of course. Edinburgh arts collective Ray have knocked up a nine-feet-long playable replica to celebrate 30 years since the instrument came on the market.
Project leader Brendan McCarthy designed the replica’s steel, aluminium and wood outer structure, while the technical bits were assembled by Sam Healy of psych-rock groups North Atlantic Oscillation and Sand. He recreated part of the original 909’s interface using real Roland gear, with 12 PD-8 drum trigger pads fitted under the spring-loaded buttons.
The buttons feed into a TD-12 drum brain which in turn sends MIDI data to an Aira TR-8, so that when it’s played the sculpture bangs out rhythms while also relaying MIDI date to a projection system, creating intricate synchronised visuals (sadly not seen in this video).
The nine-foot machine will be at Green Man festival in Wales this weekend before heading to Bestival on September 4 to 7. Watch it in action above and find out more from Ray’s Tumblr.