New Device Lets Drummers Control Electronic Instruments With Their Acoustic Kits

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An increasing number of drummers are incorporating electronics into their live  setup. Braids and Wye Oak are two bands that do this well. Not only are their drummers playing their regular drumset, but they’re also playing keyboards, pads, and other odds and ends to emulate percussive sounds that are recorded in the studio.

But what if these drummers didn’t have to switch between their kit and electronics? What if they could play everything with the set they already have?

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Well now they can.

Sensory Percussion is a new technology that uses sensors and computer software to allow drummers to play an infinite amount of electronic sounds using their own kit.

Sensors are clipped onto the drums. These sensors recognize when a drum is hit, and then that information is sent to a computer running Sensory Percussion software. Sounds are triggered either from inside the Sensory Percussion software, or from third party software such as Ableton.

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Not only can the sensor tell when a drum is hit, it can tell how hard and which part of the drum is hit. Different areas of a drum can be set to trigger different sounds or effects. Drummers can hit between the set areas to blend multiple sounds or effects.

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See the technology in action:

Sensory Percussion was developed by Tlacael and Tenoch Esparza, two brothers that are musicians. Tlacael is a professional drummer and has toured with Nicolas Jaar. He used an early form of Sensory Percussion on his second Nicolas Jaar tour, and says it helped him replicate the electronic sounds of the songs in a way that he couldn’t before.

A Kickstarter for Sensory Percussion is live. As of tonight the campaign has raised over $61,000 of their $80,000 goal. They have 19 days on the campaign.

Sensory Percussion has already gained support from drummers Kiran Gandhi (M.I.A.), Nicholas Ley (The Flaming Lips), and Ian Chang (Son Lux).


Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more: @nine_u

Photographs by Design Compendium

12 Responses

  1. MBS

    I”m confused about this supposed “New technology”? We have had the ability to do this for 20 plus years now.
    via midi triggers?

    • Amyt

      That’s what I thought initially but watch the video – it’s not the same thing as midi triggers.

  2. OldMIDIguy

    Same reaction… hasn’t this been around for at least a few decades?

  3. john

    their spokesperson looks like george zimmerman lol

  4. scorn100

    Why is this news? Acoustic drum triggers are nothing new. They’ve been around since the 90’s. I worked with one of the earliest such companies, Trigger Perfect ( DW and Roland both have their triggers. It’s very common. The interface is cool. But this is hardly anything new. Acoustic drummers have been doing this for about 20 years.

    • Nina Ulloa

      Do these triggers detect multiple spots on one drum and then automatically blend sounds and effects that are played between areas?

      • scorn10

        I admit that this is an improvement on drum triggers. It still is nothing new. Drum triggers have been around a long time and have indeed blended sounds and effects. This is a cool refinement. But it’s inaccurate to portray it as never existing before.

  5. Me2

    Amazing case study on how some just drop a comment without watching/reading first.

  6. Wooly

    Hey guys – I just invented electricity. It’s brand new!

  7. JoJones

    You guys, watch the video. Triggers don’t even come close to what this thing can do. Ask any drummer who has ever actually used them. Check out this video

  8. Francisco "Viper" Diaz

    Spectacular !! Others tried and did not succeed … two worlds united by one paradigm … You did it! Go ahead! Beyond MIDI.