Due to of the high interest that hits us at moment we’d like to say a few words about our equipment. As stated [in another article], our (Moritz Simon Geist and [SCIENCE FICTION CHILDREN] ) – our vision is to have a decent electronic pop-band where no sound is generated inside a computer, but where robots play the structures humans are not able to. We want the haptics, the error and the visual behavior of machines playing the beats and notes! We want a crowded and dirty stage with cables, machinery and lights all over!


The base of the setup – as of trillions of other electronic artists – is the fabulous, one-and–only, to-the-top Ableton Live. We use it used together with the extension Max / MSP to handle the latencies as described here.

Sciencefictionchildren: Ableton setup with the different midi tracks

Sciencefictionchildren: MAX/ MSP latency control. You can see the different instruments from the MR-808 drum robot. Each one has an own chain where delay, light effects and other parameters can be controlled.

For robotic music generation Ableton is great, because it has one tiny feature: you can define a negative track delay for midi tracks. While this might sound not too spectacular, the lack of it would make the whole process of controlling the robotic instruments much more complicated. You can read why here.

Music equipment:

MR-808 the centerpiece, the huge mechanic drum robot. A robotic rebuild of the famous TR-808 80s drum computer. The MR-808 is controlled via simple Midi Note commands, so in general it could be controlled by anything from a standard keyboard to a midi glove. In this case it’s simply an Ableton midi track. An APC40 is used for arranging the tracks. Read more about the MR808 here.

Z3 – Electromechanic relay bass instrument

Z3 Bass: our „Z3“ called bass instrument generates a bass sound as used in many state-of-the-art music productions. With one difference: it is a fully mechanical bass synth! The playable tones range from 30Hz – 800Hz. The main principle is easy: the tongues of the mechanical relays swing very fast forth and back. This movement is amplified with a guitar pickup, and – zooosh – a nice sharp square-like bass sound can be used. It is controlled with an Arduino and Midi.
You can hear the Z3 Mechanical bass in the following Track (along with the Mopho analog synth). Fully mechanical! Only a little equing has been aplied.

Science Fiction Children – Minimal studio setup

Gameboy This modified Gameboy has the sound of the 80s in it. The hack makes the classic Gameboy (GB01) playable via midi. You are asking: where is the arduino? Of course it is in there.
Mopho A standard analog hardware bass synth (electronic)
Software some audio sound from Ableton (strings & samples)
We know, the last instruments are not really mechanical. But until we build a physical twin for the sounds we need, we have to stick to that.

What do you think about the setup? Any sugesstions or idea, or similar projects you heard of? Let us known below.

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One Response to What would Asimov say? A robo-band’s equipment list

  1. […] LED Par56 from Stairville (DMX controlled), a simple DMX-Dimmer pack and use Ableton Live for our sound setup. So all I want is to control the different colors and dimmer channels (DMX channels) with each one […]

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