Congenital heart disease is a common birth defect most of us are not even familiar with. Lack of awareness maybe? We don’t come across the term until there is a child in the family with abnormalities in the heart rhythm or with unexplained blue-tinted skin. It’s then that the alarm bells ring.
To inspire and generate awareness about this disease, which affects close to 400,000 kids in the US alone each year, designer Love Hultén – reckoned for his handmade audio-visual art and works in music tech – in collaboration with Teenage Engineering has revealed the drum machine with congenital heart disease. The project has been prepared for World Heart’s Day 2022 and would be auctioned on Valentine’s Day next year. Referenced as CHD–4, the drum machine is a functional, modular synthesizer of sorts that produces rhythms made using echocardiograms (ECGs) of four different children suffering from varying forms of heart diseases.
The recorded ECGs are decoded based on shape, pace, and beats per minute into a sequencer onboard the drum machine. Presented in four-track circular layouts on the sequencer, these heartbeats can then be played back in order of beats, pace, and rhythms. Basically, the intent of the machine is to disrupt the system “in the same way life is disrupted when a child is born with congenital heart disease,” the designer notes. The beats can be played separately or together; for more sound arrangement, one can manually offset the sounds, using a knob on the front of the machine, to create unique rhythm patterns. The OLED display onboard displays the audio and beat in real-time, like the ECG waveform on the echocardiograph machine.
The drum machine will be introduced, as mentioned, on International World Heart’s Day and thereafter will be toured through the fall between creator and artists before it is finally auctioned on Valentine’s Day 2023. The proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Swedish Heartchild Foundation, a charitable organization that has been working to spread awareness and improve the living conditions of children living with congenital heart diseases.