The Riff Machine

About: My formal background is Electrical Engineering but I love non-formal education. I started integrating science and technology to my youth work and developing STEAM classes for youth projects and schools

Did you ever want to organize a jam session and let people with no previous musical experience jump in as well? Our riff machine will play super as long as all musicians in the room play in C major and/or A minor scale.

AudioPlexus aimed at creating and applying effective and innovative inclusion strategies in a mixed abilities group of young people in Itzehoe, Germany, through combined use of music and technology. It is supported by START a program of the Robert Bosch Stiftung, conducted in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki and the German Association of Sociocultural Centers, supported by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and the Bodossaki Foundation.

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Step 1: Materials

To begin you will need:

1x Bare Conductive Touch Board

1x Bare Conductive Electric Paint 10ml


1x Bare Conductive Touch Board Starter Kit

12x crocodile clip


Markers/Papers any material for handcrafts that you like

Step 2: Step 1 Design

Design different buttons for the different riffs of your riff machine

Step 3: Step 2 Make Conductive

Add conductive paint and/or copper tape to make your buttons conductive.

Don’t forget to create connections till the edge of your cardboard where the crocodile clip is going to connect.

Step 4: Step 3 Download the Riffs

Our media educator Ben Heuer created this set of 20 riffs for our workshop that you can download them here.

They are made with Magix.

Step 5: Step 4 Load Sounds

Now it’s time to upload your selected feedback sound onto the Touch Board. If you haven’t changed the MP3 files on the Touch Board before, have a look here. Choose 12 of our riffs and load them onto the board.

Step 6: Step 5 Test

Connect the board to the different buttons and Jam!

Step 7: Step 6: More

In our project we spread the sounds in 3 different Touch Boards and passed them through a sound mixer to create a space for interactions between the participants.

In case you want each board to play two riffs simultaneously or create crazy effects for your riffs you can set the board as a midi interface as explained here.

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    2 Discussions


    1 year ago

    That's a really fun idea for a class project! It looks like they enjoyed it :)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks a lot Swansong! we all really did enjoy it. We are still experimenting on how to include such technology as real musical instruments. We will come up with more :)