Groove Pizza

Groove Pizza is a pizza-shaped drum machine designed to engage anyone in creative beat-making and music composition. The idea was first proposed by Ethan Hein in 2013 who was a Music Technology Master’s student at the time.

According to Ethan, “The Groove Pizza represents beats as concentric rhythm necklaces. The circle represents one measure–by default, of 4/4 time. Each slice of the pizza is an eigth note (the specific rhythmic value will depend on the number of slices.) The outermost ring controls the kick drum; the middle one controls the snare; and the innermost one plays cymbals.”

Essentially, Groove Pizza is a radial drum machine on which the user places pepperonis that represent different instances of sound based on their radial and concentric locations. A typical drum sequencer looks like the one below:

The rows are labelled different instruments (base drum, snare, shaker, etc...) and the columns represent 1/16th notes. Time proceeds through the columns linearly from left to right, and as each beat passes over each column, the pressed pads make sound according to the corresponding instrument. Groove Pizza is a radial drum machine. Each row (which corresponds to a single instrument on a regular drum machine) is now represented by a concentric circle, and each beat (which corresponds to a beat) is now represented by a slice of pizza! Adam November, another Music Technology student and friend of mine, produced the first web app along with an early arduino based physical prototype on a perforated board with metal washers which represented toppings:

Fast forward 2+ years, I contacted Adam again and to team up and produce a robust, well designed version of Groove Pizza. Having spent many long hours honing my design and prototyping skills, I was determined to make a beautiful and highly functional version. Below are the solidworks drawings:

I had the pizza, including cheese, crust, pepperonis, and outline laser cut at a local fabrication house. The box was handmade and milled to fit the potentiometers and switches and is hinged from the back to mimic an actual pizza box. Three potentiometers control tempo, volume, as well as swing, and there is a button on the bottom left hand corner that switches the kit, (the group of sound files that play when pepperonis are place on the pizza). Mechanical reed switches underneath the cheese detect the placement of pepperonis (which have small magnets inside them).

Please visit Ethan Heins blog for further information on the groove pizza along with other music technology topics.

Hein, Ethan. "The Groove Pizza." The Ethan Hein Blog, 13 Dec. 2013,