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Performance with New Technology: Ditching the Sticks


I got rid of the sticks.

This may seem like a major departure from my initial idea, but sometimes I find that this is necessary to move forward. In reality though, the concept is still the same – only the implementation has changed slightly.

After much annoyance trying to grapple with the electronic drumsticks, I decided to take the sensors off and stick them to the drum instead. These are my reasons:

1. Using the sensors on the sticks was too fiddly, and compromised both my playing of the drum and control of the nodes.

2. The wires weighted the sticks in a weird way, meaning they kept on twisting. This meant is was very uncomfortable and again, difficult to play.

3. I can use my hands to play, meaning I can get a wider range of sounds by scratching, tapping, pressing etc. Of course I can still use a stick (or other objects) too.

4. By moving the sensors to the drum itself I no longer have to use the force sensitive resistors as gates, but can give them other functions. 

5. Now I can use the whole range of the softpot sensors, instead of just the small part that previously measured the rocking of my thumb up and down.

6. I am able to move the Arduino inside the drum, tidying things up a bit.

7. FEWER WIRES!! (Did you know that I really hate wires?) Though as you can see from the photo, there is still a bunch left.



I have also spent a bit of time developing the nodes interpolation space. I came across a number of problems:

  • The difference between some nodes was too drastic, producing jumps in the performance
  • Areas of interest were often quite small, requiring finer control
  • Some nodes just didn’t produce a sound that worked

I tackled these problems by first of all removing the nodes that didn’t produce a sound consistent with the others. Once these were out of the way, I could experiment better with the interaction between nodes and identify the most interesting areas. I found a small subsection of the interpolation space to be the most interesting, so recreated it on a larger scale, taking up the whole area of a new nodes instance. This allows me a much finer control of the movement between the nodes, and more room to explore sonically.

Going forward I want to work on my performance aesthetic in light of these technological developments. However I have yet to implement my constructing/destructing idea, using incoming audio to reveal or mask the buffer. As this will likely have a great effect on the way I play, `i should get this done as soon as possible.


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