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The MIDI-Bash Project
Simple circuits using PIC micros to make MIDI electronic drums
Roman Black - Started Jan 2009, web Mar 2009 (unfinished).
What is MIDI-Bash?
The MIDI-Bash Project is about making very simple electronic drums
(and/or other electronic instruments) using cheap PIC microcontrollers.
Full schematics and PIC source code is provided so you can build your
own MIDI-Bash using my designs as a guide.
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is a very
common standard where note data is sent digitally between commercial musical
devices, usually keyboards. Almost all keyboards have a MIDI interface
these days, even many cheap "beginner" keyboards. Also, most keyboards
have drum sounds built in as well as the typical instrument sounds like
piano, organ, bass, strings etc.
MIDI-Bash is a homemade MIDI-controller that sends a MIDI message
when you hit a button (or "bash" a pad), then that MIDI-message makes a
commercial keyboard or sound module play a drum sound or a sound sample
or any other instrument sound.
Typically you can use my MIDI-Bash designs as guides to quickly
make cheap electronic drum pads (or a full drum set) or even a
custom-designed musical instrument or other MIDI-controller of your
The MIDI-Bash concept
Below you can see the simplest MIDI-Bash circuit. Apart from a
5 volt regulator (not shown) and a box to put it in, this really is all
you need to make a MIDI-Bash.
The note up/down buttons are my invention and really are vital
in making MIDI-Bash useful. By holding down either button, and hitting
a drum pad, that pad's drum sound steps up/down to the next drum sound.
So even if you have only ONE pad and one sound, you can quickly change
that drum sound to ANY other drum sample in your MIDI module. If you
have a few pads, you can quickly assign any drum sound to any pad.
Its very instinctive, you can even change pad sounds in the middle
of a performance. It is also handy for a minimal drum set for home
recording (only 3 or 4 pads) as you can easily set it up for
kick/snare/hihats and record a track, then just change the pads to be
toms or specials like claps and bells etc and record another track.
Being minimalist, the note up/down buttons cost almost nothing
in terms of the hardware (2 cheap buttons) or the effort to add
those buttons. There is no need for a display, or menus, or complex
switching etc. It is very low cost, very easy to use and very very
Velocity sensitive MIDI-Bash drum designs
Below you can see the next level of MIDI-Bash designs. These use
a PIC that has ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) inputs, these PICs are
still cheap and easy to find.
For the slight cost increase of adding piezo sensors and a
few extra electronic parts the MIDI-Bash gets full velocity sensing.
As you hit the pad harder the drum gets louder. This rivals the
performance of commercial electronic drum kits, and you can even
use "proper" drum sensor pads if you dont want to make your own.
More to come on this web page soon!!
At this point (19th May 2009) I have the PIC software written and working
ok for a number of MIDI-Bash designs. I also have some MIDI-Bloop versions
under construction that receive MIDI commands and make music. Ie they are
a one-chip synth that also performs the MIDI decoding. These are built and
working on my MikroC PIC development board.
Currently I am finalising the circuit diagrams and photos needed to finish
the MIDI-Bash and MIDI-Bloop project pages.
Click HERE for the MIDI-Bash Software and photos!!
And stay tuned, more to come!
- end -
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