27JanA magnetic drum!

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FielDrum by Graham Grindlay is an acoustic drum outfitted with a system of magnetics which are used to induce pushing and pulling forces on a drumstick and ideally guiding a player through correct motions.

How do people learn the kinds of complex physical gestures required to play musical instruments? Although a beginning percussion student may know what motions are involved in a paradiddle, it will still take practice to develop the motor programs required to produce those motions. Part of the underlying hypothesis of the Magnetic Musical Training project is that beginners would benefit from a kinesthetic “preview” of a target gesture’s correct execution. The MMT project is investigating whether people can “learn-by-feel” and if so, how this approach compares to traditional motor training?

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One of the current MMT projects is the FielDrum, an acoustic drum outfitted with a system of electromagnets, permanent magnets, and control electronics. These are used to induce “pushing” and “pulling” forces on a drumstick moving it through a desired path in space. In its current state, the FielDrum has two states (attract or repel) which are controlled using the MIDI protocol (noteon messages attract the drumstick while noteoff messages repel it). Presently, we are working to add a position sensing system for the drumsticks as well as continuous control over the electromagnet.

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