Everything is music to instrument inventor Akito van Troyer’s ears

By John Mirisola

Akito van Troyer's latest instrument is not a drum machine, exactly. More like a drumming machine.

Laid out on a table at the Electronic Production and Design (EPD) professor's Cambridge workspace, van Troyer's briefcase-sized prototype is surrounded by a striking mishmash of objects: containers and lids of all sizes, a box of 3D-printed plastic cups and saucers, an egg shaker, a glass ball, a styrofoam block, two decorative tin pails, a handful of playing card–sized metal plates, and a festive-looking fake pumpkin. Van Troyer has placed an object on each of the instrument's eight square pads, which have mechanical actuators that will strike these objects in a programmed sequence when he presses play on the connected MIDI controller.

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