The Slapbox is a standalone digital percussion instrument that offers both excitation and modulation on the same interaction surfaces. Built using Bela, the instrument processes gestural interactions and produces sound using its own synthesis engine. It is able to be picked up and played without external devices or setup, which is an important characteristic to support the longevity of digital instruments. The drum pads on the box’s top, back and sides are able to sense continuous pressure as well as position, and can detect strikes with similar performance to MIDI drum controllers. In total, there are 4 position and pressure pads for percussive strikes, 2 small pressure pads and a ridged guiro-imitating component. Additionally, there are 2 modulating buttons on the top panel that control the pitch of the resulting audio.
This instrument is built using the framework of a previous digital percussion instrument, the Tapbox. Iterating on its design saved a great deal of development time and constrained the design space to focus on interaction methods and synthesis.
You can find the Bela code here.
- Boettcher, B., Sullivan, J., Wanderley, M. M. (2022). Slapbox: Redesign of a Digital Musical Instrument Towards Reliable Long-Term Practice. In New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) 2022.