The BeatBearing

Over one million hits on YouTube drum up global interest in Queen's University student

A video of a new musical instrument created by a Queen’s University student has attracted over one million hits on video sharing website, YouTube.

PhD student Peter Bennett (26) from Stevenage, England, made the video to demonstrate the BeatBearing - his new electronic musical instrument that uses ball bearings to create different drum patterns.

The BeatBearing acts as a rhythm sequencer, playing a sound whenever a ball bearing is encountered by a sensor, 'like an updated version of the old piano-roll', Bennett reveals. 

The BeatBearing was created as part of research into the use of ‘tangible interfaces’ for new musical instruments. The research is being led by Sile O’Modhrain within the renowned Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s. It is just one of many interesting projects in the department.

'The BeatBearing started out as a weekend project when one of my colleagues left ball bearings lying around the lab and I wondered how you could make music with them,' recalls Bennett. 

Although he has received numerous requests from people interested in purchasing his instrument, Bennett hasn't considered selling it just yet. Instead, he has written a ‘make your own BeatBearing’ step-by-step guide to be published soon in the American magazine MAKE ( 

'The popularity of the BeatBearing has been useful for my PhD as I can get feedback about how other people have interpreted my design. It will be even more useful when people start building their own and make adjustments to the original design.'

More information on the BeatBearing can be found on Bennett’s academic homepage:

The BeatBearing demonstration video can be viewed on YouTube at: