Beats Drum Machine
Beats is a command-line drum machine written in pure Ruby. Feed it a song notated in YAML, and it will produce a precision-milled *.wav file of impeccable timing and feel. Here's an example song:
Song: Tempo: 105 Flow: - Verse: x4 - Chorus: x4 Kit: - bass: house_2_1.wav - snare: roland_tr_909_2.wav - hihat: house_2_5.wav - cowbell: big_beat_5.wav - deep: house_2_2.wav Verse: - bass: X..X...X..X..... - snare: ....X.......X... - hihat: ..X...X...X...X. Chorus: - bass: X..X...X..X..... - snare: ....X.......X... - hihat: XXXXXXXXXXXXX... - cowbell: ....XX.X..X.X... - deep: .............X..
And here's what it sounds like after getting the Beats treatment. What a glorious groove!
For more, check out beatsdrummachine.com
To install the latest stable version (2.1.0) from rubygems.org, run the following from the command line:
gem install beats
Note: if you're installing using the default version of Ruby that comes with macOS, you might get a file permission error. If that happens, use
sudo gem install beats instead. If you're using a version manager such as rbenv, chruby, or RVM, plain
gem install beats should work fine.
Once installed, you can then run Beats from the command-line using the
Beats is not very useful unless you have some sounds to use with it. You can download some example sounds from http://beatsdrummachine.com.
Check out this tutorial at beatsdrummachine.com to see an example of how to create a beat from sratch.
What's New in v2.1
The latest version of Beats is 2.1.0, released on September 9, 2017.
This version adds support for composite sounds. That is, sounds that are made by combining two or more sounds together. They are a more succinct way of writing songs where multiple tracks play the same rhythm.
Composite sounds can be defined in the Kit by putting multiple sound files in an array:
Kit: - bass: bass.wav # A traditional non-composite sound - combo_snare: [clap.wav, 808_snare.wav] # A composite sound
combo_snare sound above is a composite sound made by combining
808_snare.wav together. It can then be used in a pattern:
Verse: - bass: X.......X....... - combo_snare: ....X.......X...
This is equivalent to the following song:
Kit: - bass: bass.wav - clap: clap.wav - snare: 808_snare.wav Verse: - bass: X.......X....... - clap: ....X.......X... - snare: ....X.......X...
When using the
-s command-line option to write each track to its own *.wav file, each sub-sound in a composite sound will be written to its own file. For example, this song:
Kit: - combo_snare: [clap.wav, 808_snare.wav] Verse: - combo_snare: X...X...X...X...
...will be written to two different files,
combo_snare-808_snare.wav, when using the
Finally, when defining a track in a pattern, multiple sounds can be given in an array as a composite sound. Kit sounds and non-Kit sounds can be used together:
Kit: - bass: bass.wav - combo_snare: [clap.wav, 808_snare.wav] Verse: - [bass, combo_snare, other_sound.wav]: X...X...X...X...
This is a equivalent to:
Kit: - bass: bass.wav - clap: clap.wav - snare: 808_snare.wav Verse: - bass: X...X...X...X... - clap: X...X...X...X... - snare: X...X...X...X... - other_sound.wav: X...X...X...X...
What's New in v2.0
The previous version of Beats is 2.0.0, released on September 4, 2017. It is primarily a modernization release, and contains some relatively small backwards incompatible changes.
- Track rhythms can now have spaces in them. For example,
X... .... X... ....is now a valid rhythm. Spaces are ignored, and don't affect the rhythm. For example,
X... X...is treated as the same rhythm as
- Wave files using
WAVE_FORMAT_EXTENSIBLEformat can now be used, due to upgrading the WaveFile gem dependency to v0.8.1 behind the scenes.
- Installing the gem is now simpler, since it no longer requires installing the legacy
syckYAML parser via an extension.
Fixnum is deprecatedmessage is no longer shown when using Ruby 2.4
- Backwards incompatible changes:
- Song files containing a
Structuresection are no longer supported. A
Flowsection should be used instead. Support for the
Structuresection has been deprecated since v1.2.1 (released in 2011).
- Track rhythms can no longer start with a
|character. For example,
|X...X...is no longer a valid rhythm. However, bar lines are still allowed to appear elsewhere in the rhythm. For example,
X...X...|X...X...|is a valid rhythm. The reason for this change is that a rhythm starting with
|is parsed as a YAML scalar block now that Beats is using the Psych YAML library behind the scenes. The fact that the old Syck YAML library didn't treat rhythms starting with a
|as a YAML scalar block appears to have been a bug in Syck?
- Song files containing a
- The minimum supported Ruby version is now 1.9.3, instead of 1.8.7
First, install the required dependencies:
To run Beats locally, use
bundle exec and run
bin/beats, to avoid using any installed gem executable. For example:
bundle exec bin/beats -v
To run the tests:
bundle exec rake test
Found a Bug? Have a Suggestion? Want to Contribute?
Contact me (Joel Strait) by sending a GitHub message or opening a GitHub issue.
Beats Drum Machine is released under the MIT license.