Andy Cavatorta

The Rain Drop Drum Machine, with J. Viewz, for Snapple

The Rain Drop Drum Machine is an equal collaboration between Marina Litvinskaya and me. The music and the idea of working with rain drops came from J.Viewz. Project sponsorship came from Snapple. And it’s made complete by an amazing walk-on improvisation by Manu Delago.

We use raindrops for their distinctive rhythms, which always mix regularity with a little chaos. And for the ability of the performer to create, shape, and harness the rhythms of the falling water. With software and with their hands.

Studio Process

I spent a lot of time trying to invent a raindrop detector that doesn't touch the droplets. The idea was a loop of some kind. I built light reflection sensors, a small webcam with tracking software, a pair of rings - an upper ring that electrically charges the droplet and a lower ring that detects the flux through the loop.

In theory, they could all work. But I ran out of time. So I coated piezo sensors in a hydrophobic material, measured the small currents created by impacts with raindrops, and wrote software to exclude false potitives.

With that solved, we could get to the fun stuff.

Marina working on the brain tank
brain tank in with RGB illumination
brain tank with pond

We didn't intend to go full Barbarella. But we were psyched to discover that red, green, and blue lights created a big puddle of prismatic psychadelica. We didn't get to use it on the day of the shoot because the whole set was flooded with white light. But we've stored the idea away for future use.

Marina's wonderful water wheels
The prismatic ripple effect
Marina testing and listening