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Re: Percussion, drums anyone?

Cummings wrote:
> Sounds like you are looping acoustically, which is what I do. How do you
> handle live situations, in particular how do you avoid signals from
> feeding back into a loop from a monitor?

Yeah, this is a real problem.  Currently, I try close micing with cardiod 
mics.  I place my house 
speakers so that they don't "see" the stage mics.  I use a small mic stand 
mounted monitor and keep the 
sound level down as low as possible.  I play places that aren't very noisy 
so the PA isn't very loud.  
While all this helps, I still get sound degredation as I overdub loops.

I'm trying other things: I've tried using a single wireless mic that I 
wear.  I've tried noise-gates on 
my mics.  For any given song, I can adjust the gate threshold for proper 
operation; however, the next 
song needs different settings.  Consequently, I don't use noise-gates in 
performance.  I've thought about 
building an elaborate system that would "intelligently" listen to the 
background level and automatically 
adjust the noise-gate thresholds.  I tried adding switches to the mics 
(using that Switchcraft XLR 
connector with the in-line switch) and it's just another action that gets 
in the way of making music.  
For some compositions I pad down (on the mixer) the mics I'm not using.  
That is, as I construct loops, I 
unpad the particular mic I'm going to use next.

I'm not satified with any of my solutions.  What do you do?  Any 

> I remember reading a while back that you perform composed pieces. How
> are you doing that with your EDP? Do you notate various loop actions as
> well?

My notations are mostly to help remind me of what to do.  I don't 
(usually) "read" them when I play.  
While I seem to remember the short phrases that I play, I'm apt to forget 
the sequence of looper 
"keystrokes".  So my notes don't include the "music", only the looper 
actions.  I tried including the 
music early on and found it unnecessary and confusing.  I call my notes a 
"song schema".

For a given song schema, I have three sections.  The first section lists 
the instruments used on the 
piece.  Before starting the piece, I can gather the instruments in 
convenient locations.  The second 
section lists the equipment set-up - EDP beats per 1/8, SPX-90 program 
settings, mixer channel panning, 
etc.  The third section lists the sequence of looper actions.  I've 
attached a Word document with an 
example of a traditional tune done "looper fashion".  Hope you can read it 

> Oh, and if you have time, tell me more about these:
> - waterphone
> - ocean drum
> - batu-tu
> - gopiyantra
> - ting-sha

I've been meaning to put together a web page with instrument descriptions. 
 For now, here's what I have.
The waterphone is the spookiest sounding instrument I have.  See 

The ocean drum is made by Remo.  It's a double-headed frame drum which 
contains small ball-bearings.  
When you hold the drum horizontal and tilt it from side to side, the 
ball-bearings roll across the bottom 
head and produce a "surf-like" sound.  It's very peaceful.

The Batu-tu from New Guinea is made from a length of bamboo with one end 
cut into two prongs or tines 
like a tuning fork.  The other end, serving as the handle, is split from 
the tines part of the way 
towards the end.  Striking the tines causes the split in the handle to 
buzz gently.  The Batu-tu is also 
known as the Tugangay or "devil chaser" in the Philippines.  I bought mine 
from Lark in the Morning. See 

The gopiyantra, a single stringed instrument from eastern India, is 
constructed from a short length of 
bamboo and a small single-headed drum.  The bamboo, divided into a yoke, 
forms the neck of the 
instrument.  The drum is fastened between the arms of the yoke with the 
open end pointing towards the top 
of the yoke.  One end of the string is attached to the top of the yoke, 
where the arms join together; 
extends between the arms of the yoke into the open end of the drum; and 
attaches to the center of the 
head inside the drum.  By squeezing the bamboo neck while plucking or 
striking the string, the string 
tension is varied hence changing the pitch of the instrument.  According 
to Hindu tradition, the 
Gopiyantra was played by the milk-maid consorts of Krishna.  Mine is a 
gift from a friend but Lark in the 
Morning also has them (called Gopi Chand in their catalog).

Ting-sha chimes from Tibet looks like two very small, very thick cymbals.  
It produces quite a dissonant, 
penetrating sound intended to immediately focus your attention to the 
present and is used by Buddhist 
monks in meditation practices.  Lark in the Morning also carries these, 
although I got mine elsewhere.

Hope you found this interesting...

- Dennis Leas