Tlacael Esparza is a professional drummer with 14 years of experience who feels that there is still a big gap between the acoustic and the electronic music-making that limits musicians’ expressive potential. He wants to reinvigorate music by giving drummers the ability to control electronic samples, synths and audio effects with the artistry they have developed by playing their own acoustic drum kits.
“Current e-drums are based on decades-old trigger technology. They’re basically buttons disguised as drums. Playing them is like making a black-and-white photocopy of a painting, you lose all the detail and artistry of the performance. [Sensory Percussion] is about bridging the electronic and the acoustic to create a system where drum machines are smart enough to listen to and respond to a drummers’ artistry,” says Tlacael.
The system, called Sensory Percussion, is comprised of hardware and software utilizing advanced digital signal processing and machine learning techniques. The hardware consists of a small sensor attached to the drum kit that communicates with the proprietary software and enables the control of multiple sounds from a single drum.
While current systems can only control one sound per sensor, Sensory Percussion allows the musicians to play “between” sounds and to control other sound effects based on where the drum is hit, inviting artists to new forms of creative expression.
“I can take all of the skills that I have been honing my entire life and apply it to drum machines, keyboards … anything you could possibly think of. That’s the thing that excites me so much,” says Nicholas Ley, the drummer of Flaming Lips.
Sensory Percussion is a new Kickstarter project by Tlacael’s company Sunhouse. The Kickstarter campaign will offer serious musicians discounts on pre-orders of all bundles — 25 percent off for a limited number of “early birds” and then 15 percent off until the campaign’s conclusion.
Photo: Design Compendium