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The Beat Blocks system functions as a midi controller. It can be connected to a drum machine, sampler, or other sound module or a computer. A stereo amplifier and speakers are external to the system.

The main element of Beat Blocks consists of a selection of blocks arranged in a matrix. Each block contains 2 resistors which give it a specific identity, represented in the striped pattern. Each field within the matrix has two magnetic contact points that 'read' the presence of a block and its resistor value.

The matrix is composed of 4 rows by 4 columns. Each row represents a particular percussion sound and each column represents a 1/4 measure time duration. The striped patterns on the blocks break this duration down into finer resolutions. For example, a block containing a vertical stripe followed by 2 spaces then another stripe represents the pattern: play sound on 1st and 4th counts of the measure (at a 1/16 measure resolution). Therefore, a block represents the sound sequence for a 1/4 measure duration of a particular track (row of the matrix). This method of patterning facilitates the identification of subsequences and allows for a minimal number of blocks to be used to create an interesting composition.

There are a number of additional controls. Each row has a corresponding dial that is used to set the volume of that particular track. A slider allows the user to change the tempo. There is also a toggle switch that enables a swing mode in which the beats that fall on the even numbered 1/16 increments are slightly shifted to change the sound up. You also have your standard Start/Continue and Stop buttons.

Several Beat Block units can be synchronized to add more percussive elements to the composition. Two Beat Blocks units equals 8 drum tracks and enables a playful and collaborative approach to music making and sound exploration.

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