"You can't really imagine music without technology."
In August of 2016 I was named the Artist in Residence at the ExCITe Center at Drexel University, a multi-disciplinary center that explores how art and academic research interact. Funded by the Knight Foundation, the goal of the residency was to have an artist embedded in an academic environment to see if it would lead to more fruitful work for both sides. I worked closely with engineer Jeff Gregorio to explore how music and technology interact.
We created an instrument called Drumhenge, which is a large array of wirelessly networked drums played using only magnets. We debuted it at Drexel in the summer of 2017 with a live performance. The above video shows you how it works and what it can do. The video below is an original composition using organic harmonization that features Max Cudworth on Sax, Chris Powell on Drums, and Aaron Liao on Bass. Jeff and I were named 'Makers of the Year' at the 2017 Philly Geek Awards as a result of our work.
How it works
Jeff and I discovered that by attaching a piece of steel foil to a drumhead (5) you can use an electro-magnet (4) to resonate a drumhead, producing an eerie sound. That magnet can resonate at any frequency you want, which means you can send tones through a drum—essentially turning it into a monophonic synthesizer. By wirelessly networking each of the 16 modules (3) together, we could create an interdependent array. We could control it from a central brain (2), or using code (1) could tell them to ‘listen’ to each other, and react in various pattens.