Tag Archives: percussion

Amplified Snare Drum

amplifiedsnareinside    amplifiedsnareoutside

A custom microphone installation into Michael Evans’ amplified snare drum.  The microphone can be fed back into the internal speakers through the resonating skins and combined with contact microphones for a wide range of sounds that can be manually manipulated.


Drums on debut EP from the Zolephants.

The Zolephants are a protoplasmic-surf-spaghetti-western band from the foothills of Brooklyn. They combine deep-space synthesizers and electronics with silver-surfing baritone guitars and cathartic drumming.”

Vibraphone Speed Controller

This is a pedal that I made to control the motor speed of the fans in a vibraphone.  It’s designed to fit any Musser frame’s motor and pivots side-to-side so that the player’s full weight is supported, leaving the other foot to press the sustain pedal.  The fans move slower when turned to the left, faster to the right, freeing both hands to play as the vibrato is increased or decreased.

Black Eyes

A track on which I played percussion with Nettle last February has been released on this new Rebetika compliation from Soundeyet.

Drum Machine Software


Batucada is a pattern-based percussion sequencer built in MaxMSP and designed for live performance using a PowerBook.  Controlled mostly by the ‘qwerty’ keyboard, Batucada allows the performer to improvise with patterns and ‘grow’ new ones live.  It features variable-division repeats with the right hand, while the left hand selects the instruments to which the repeats will be applied.  Mute and Solo, like repeat are applied with the right hand to instruments selected with the left.  Signal-based timeline warping (‘swing’) and offset can be handled either globally or locally, allowing different instruments to have their own swing and/or offset settings.  Batucada can run as either a master sync device or can be slaved to incoming MIDI time code, MIDI beat clock, ReWire, or a traditional audio click track.  In addition to MIDI note commands, Batucada can send 7 and 14-bit MIDI LFO information as well as 2 +/-5V control voltages for interfacing with analog synthesizers and processors.  Within the software, I’ve implemented ‘VeLFOs’ (7-bit scalable triangle/sine/square wave LFOs) synced to each track (with individual offsets) for governing velocity, but this data can be mapped to anything from filter cutoff to event execution probability.  Timing is coupled to the sample rate by the scaling of signals and is only subjected to Max’s scheduler when turned into MIDI note messages at the output.

Development of the above pictured MSP version is frozen and I am currently working on a new build of Batucada in Pd utilizing  Pd’s < sample-accurate event scheduling and driven by a clock which will also implement Euclidean GCD/LCM-based counters for creating rhythmically compelling math-beats.  Most all performance functionality that inspired development of Batucada has been eclipsed in recent versions of Live.

Digitally Controlled Acoustic Percussion

Miniature, modular instruments designed to affix to virtually any structure thereby allow the composer musical control of anything from a battery of specially designed instruments to structural surfaces within pre-existing architectural space.

With an emphasis on simplicity, each of these mechanisms’ design usually consists of only one electromechanical actuator (a rotary motor, or linear solenoid) which responds to varying degrees of supply voltage remotely regulated by a microcontroller. This single-actuator design philosophy demands that all mechanical movement within the instrument be subordinated on the physical capabilities of the lone motor or solenoid employed and, while this may sound like a limitation, such use of mechanical design (as opposed to more ‘intelligent’ electronic design) manifests a reliability, mechanical consistency and modularity that would otherwise not be possible.

Each device can be fitted with a variety of harnesses for mounting and is connected to the brain (box containing the PIC microcontroller and DC power supply) via a single run of cable. Thus, the microcontroller administers the appropriate voltage to hit, shake, scrape, bow, spin, whip, or pluck sound from any sonorous object with the exact precision one would expect from digital control.

Installations and Performances in New York City (Harvestworks, Chelsea Art Museum, Gigantic Art Space, Eyebeam Gallery, Angel Orensanz Foundation, P.S.1 Clocktower Gallery, and The Frying Pan), and worldwide at 2004 NIME conference in Hamamatsu, Japan, 2004; iMAL festival in Brussels, Belgium; 2004 Audio Arts Festival in Krakow, Poland; When The Time Traveller Kills His Grandmother (a survey of current sound art curated by Fritz Welch) 2005 London, England.

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