Made by Ling Xu

a physical representation of the starting drumroll for a bagpipe marching performance

Created: October 17th, 2016


Audio & Intention

Here is the part for "starting drumroll" only:


The full performance in a competition is as follows


I selected the starting drumroll of any bagpipe marching performance because I started to play the bagpipe after I came to CMU. The drumroll is very important in the performance as it ensures all pipers to start at the same time. Therefore, after joining in university’s Pipes and Drums band for a year, the drumroll almost become a conditioned reflection to me that whenever I hear it, I will get focused and be ready to play.

P.S. In particular, because of my poor strike-in technique, I usually need to pay extra attention to the drumroll as to make sure that I get all the drones resonated.



I used two layers of diverging paper stripes that will rub against each other when being rotated (and thus creating sound) to represent the audio. The upper layer was printed in CMU plaid as to represent context of bagpipe marching performance ––the kilts for pipers have similar pattern and the lower layer was colored in black as a dark and relatively solemn background. (Yet, in the outcome, the color of plaid seems too dark and the black makes it look even darker, which was a bad choice = =)


And here is how to rotate the paper manually to create sound similar to the drumroll ;)

"drumroll" (sort of)
Ling Xu - https://youtu.be/_sSioMeXv0w


When I went through the examples provided on the course website last Thursday (Oct. 13th), I decided to create something for the starting drumroll as my mind was stuck on the parade performance that the band going to have on Saturday (Oct. 20th). Since I don’t have access or any technique to create some model or sculpture from wood, I tried to find a representation that is easy to be carried out with paper or cardboard. Suddenly, the idea that rubbing paper can make noise came to my mind; and as the drumroll is dense and successive, which sounds like chattering of a machine gun, I thought that it should be represented in some form with feelings of flow. Therefore, I planned to imitate the mechanism of turbine and water flow by using two layers of diverging paper stripes that will rub against each other when being rotated (and thus creating sound).

As to the shape of those stripes, I intended to imitate the common sign board of barber shop and create a sense of swirling even when the pattern is static. However, that idea didn’t work out quite well, so I just cut out the similar pattern on the water bottle that I used as a base.  



If I were able to make the paper layers move and create the sound automatically, I would think that the representation captured the audio better. However, to be honest, I would not recognize at all the original drumroll that the representation is intended to embody when it is static (without any manual rotation); and the outcome just looks like some hand-made “garbage” by a pupil in elementary school or even a kid in kindergarten… I find it very hard to translate the intangible media into some tangible representation without the help of some mechanical motion or the similar form (sound) because the audio has temporal change while the static objects don’t.

As to the work itself, the single piece of paper that I used for each layer is too soft as when the two layers were rubbed against each other, it is very easy for the stripes to get entangled and somewhat stuck. I should have worked with more solid materials to create better sound effect and audio representation. 

Share this Project


62-150 Intro to Media Synthesis and Analysis

· 28 members

New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers a...more


a physical representation of the starting drumroll for a bagpipe marching performance