NYU MusEd Lab is a research and development lab focused on developing innovative music technology and experiences for learning, making, and engagement. 


The GROOVE PIZZA is a radial drum machine that connects drum rhythm to geometric patterns. The objectives of the drum machine are to help users understand drum patterns through visual analogy so that they might be able to compose patterns more intuitively. Additionally, the Groove Pizza offers educators an interactive tool for linking mathematical principles to rhythm.

In preparation for the Thelonius Monk Foundation's World Jazz Day and the development of a math curriculum with New York City's Urban Arts Partnership, user research and web analytics were used to inform a redesign of the current product.

Wireframe of Groove Pizza redesign.  

Wireframe of Groove Pizza redesign.  


Due to the unique nature of this device, the user feedback indicated that the tool was unintuitive to first-time users. For experienced music technology users, non-standard terminology made the interface difficult to understand. Additionally some of the features which could help users program more complex and interesting drum patterns were hidden in the interface. 

To address these challenges a re-design that conceptually organized interactions by groups was added. Critical features, such as the tempo control, were given prominence at the top of the design. Suggested features such as synchronization with other electronic instruments on different devices were added to make the tool scalable for professional use.