Project description

Project description:

Performance with real-time interaction between drums and electronics.


To develop a setup with drums and electronics which shall be practical and easy to operate.

This has turned out to be way too theoretical for me. I really understood this when my teacher “Sidsel Endresen” suggested that instead of trying to find a technical solution to my musical challenges, I should instead dive into my setup, experiment and play with it and get to know it as well as possible. Then, after some time, when I’ve gotten to know nearly every square inch of my setup, specific needs of enhancements to the setup would reveal them selves.

On the contrary, if you try to gasp over every possibility there is, firstly you will never succeed, since the more you learn the more you realize you don’t know. And the temporary solution that you might have randomly stumbled upon might amuse you, but you know it didn’t arise from an inner urge.

Another important argument is that music-technology-“nerd”-musicians tend to use countless hours enhancing their setup instead of developing their artistic skills. You are never satisfied with your setup, but It’s always good enough.

I will still look into methods of integrating new technology into my setup, but I’ll let the needs present them selves first and then figure out how to implement them instead of integrating techniques I stumble upon just because they are cool and I want to test them (that will at least not be a relevant part of my master thesis, but I’ll probably do it in my spare time).

So I have rephrased my project goal to this:

To develop my self as an improvising musician.


My motivation for working with drums and electronics is that amongst guitarists and some what keyboard players, the integration of audio processing and the interaction between the instrument and effects has undergone an extensive development in recent decades and this has shaped much of the music we experience today.

I want to study the possibility of developing the interplay between drums and electronics, as this has not been developed to the same extent.

Since 2006 I have been working with this and I have used several methods and setups during the process. The last two years I have developed a more conscious awareness of the problems that are present in my concept and I have actively used available resources to optimise my use of electronics as a drummer, among these resources I should mention:

  • Studied Live Electronics for one year at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
  • Did a course in Max/Msp at NOTAM
  • I’ve taken the subjects “Sound theory” and “Digital Audio & MIDI” at the University of Oslo.
  • Performance at festivals, national and international stages.
  • Test with EEG(brainwave)-controllers and motion tracking systems.
  • I’ve made a semi-virtual interactive sound installation based on the listeners GPS-coordinates and sounds from the surrounding area.

Similar projects have been completed earlier, but the concept is far from standardized, and thanks to music technology’s rapid development there are more possibilities than ever before.


My method will mainly consist of:

  • Gathering information by investigating how other artists work with electronics.

As the main focus has shifted from managing technical aspects to realizing an artistic idea this has become irrelevant.

  • Conversations and interviews (no need as these would just turn into conversations) with central artists, such as:

–  Jan Bang
–  Arve Henriksen
–  Eivind Aarset
–  Nils Petter Molvær
–  Peter Baden
–  Terje Evensen
–  Thomas Strønen
–  Alexander Jensenius
–  Victoria Johnson
–  Mats Claesson
–  Alex Gunia
–  Notto Thelle og Asbjørn Flø(NOTAM)
–  Jens Petter Nilsen (Xploding Plastix)
–  +++

  • Conversations with the audience after my installations and concerts.
  • Rehearsing and researching. I base this on my current setup with high-end contact microphones (ukko, b-band) in all the drums and piezo microphones directly beneath the cymbals, an audio interface, a computer and a PA system:

– Compare how different effects react on the sound from the drum set.
– Research how different controllers fit into my setup.
– Experiment with different methods of mapping.
– Experiment with the use of multiple speakers.
– Look into the integration of interactive video.
– Look at the possibilities for that external sources, such as the audience, a net stream, dancers, humidity, lights etc. can control the development in the music and in the video trough out a performance by using alternative sensors, controllers and programs.
I want to emphasize that the knowledge I want to acquire mainly is of artistic nature since I already possess the basic technical skills needed to complete the project. This is something I want to achieve through conversations with mentioned artists, through the audiences’s comments on my artistic choices throughout the process and through analysis of my performances and rehearsals.

In the process of developing my sound and to perform better in a live context, I have worked to reproduce the works and sounds of artists I appreciate, including Aphex Twin, Square Pusher, Arne Norheim, Xploding Plastix, Audun Kleive, Ryoji Ikeda , Alva Noto, Amon Tobin and Fennesz. I regard this as a good method and I will continue using it, this so that I always have a musical direction and don’t get lost in the diversity of technological opportunities.

For a project like this to be successful it requires a structured plan for carrying out goals. I have prepared a tentative work plan that includes four project periods. These project periods illustrate where the main focus is at that time, but there is always an underlying work towards the end result. It should be mentioned that due to the nature of the project, this project description has to be modified throughout the study period, this because of new technology to be launched and that my opinion on where the focus should be will reach beyond what I know as of this writing.

Work Plan:

  • 1st semester:

Thorough review of available effects in Max/Msp (including some externals), Ableton Live and Max for Live.

See “goal” description.

– Get a profound understanding of the capabilities of my current setup.

– Look into some technological aspects of my project.

– Discuss with my teachers (Thomas Strønen and Sidsel Endresen) different methods of learning improvisation.

– Practice and perform with different constellations to enhance my abilities as a performing artist.

Live sampling and processing of a drummer presented in concert form.

An essential part of this project is that I do the processing my self as a part of my own playing and that I develop certain techniques for the interaction. The reason I wanted to do this in the first place was that I wanted to do the processes one at a time. But as I have gained more knowledge, I feel that the processes have to go hand-in-hand with a main focus on the artistic outcome.

– Look into collaborations with other art forms so I will be forced to expand the boundaries of my current setup.

  • 2nd semester:

Based on results from first semester:

Discuss what parameters I want to control and then choose the controllers considering that they should be practical and easy to handle.

See “goal” description.

Play an improvised piece for audience where I will invite other artists within the same genera to play with me.

Too diffuse, I’ll rephrase to this:

– Practice and perform with different constellations to enhance my abilities as a performing artist.

I also want to make a sensor based sound generator presented as an installation where the audience controls a sound synthesis with various controllers.

This doesn’t interest me any more, but I will do something similar:

– Make a sensor based setup for a dancer and a drummer, where the dancer can pick up sounds played by the drummer and process them with movement. In this project I will involve Alexander Jensenius. Read more about this here.

– Together with Kjetil Husebø I will develop a composition which we will perform together with Bendik Hofseth in April.

– I will look into more beat based improvisation as this has started to interest me to a greater extent.

This semester I will invite Jan Bang, Peter Baden and Terje Evensen to play with me, comment on my process and tell me about their musical experiences.

I didn’t prioritize this.

  • 3rd semester:

– Look into how I can make video react on sound or controllers using the MaxMsp extensions Jitter and Vizzie.
– Present a similar concert as the one in the previous semester, but this time with video controlled by the music or control data we create or by other external sources such as randomness, the audience, dancers, etc.
– I also want to make a motion based sound generator presented as an installation where the audience controls a sound synthesis by moving around within a specified area.

  • 4th semester:

Tour (multiple independent concerts where easier to achieve) and final concert with the concept from earlier mentioned concerts (the degree has grown into one specific project, Sound Picking).
– Final documentation and summary of the master project.

Essential resources:

  • A PA system
  • A projector and a canvas.
  • 2-3 extra active speakers for working with surround.
  • “Patriot Polhemus”
  • An Arduino system for the installations.
  • Eowave HF

The rest of the needed equipment I already possess, yet there might be certain recourses I don’t yet know that I need.

How the result will be presented:

  • Recording in 2nd semester with digital and physical release coordinated with the tour in the 4th semester.

It’s all about the blog and digital releases for now.

  • Tour in the 4th semester (multiple independent concerts where easier to achieve) including final concert at the Norwegian Academy of Music in march 2013 Victoria, Nasjonal Jazzscene June 14th 2013 which will be documented with audio and video.
  • The work in progress will be presented as concerts and installations both at the Academy and in public.
  • The critical reflection will be in writing and grasp a discussion of:

1. The artistic process:
– Development of the pieces.
– Development of the whole expression presented at the final tour concerts.
– Mixing and mastering of the release.
– My perception of the auditive and visual work during the precess.

2. The theoretical process:
– Development of tools and of the electronic and acoustic setup.
– Challenges presented today regarding the development of the music industry in the context of the project description.

  • The process will also be documented though a blog. (This has grown into it’s own chapter).

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