Today I’m going to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart—drumming and drumming equipment. I spent a good part of my life as a professional drummer. I was very active in that field during the introduction of digital percussion and MIDI. There was a lot of concern back then that drummers would be replaced and to some extent some were. Trios became duos and a lot of studio session work dried up.
I always looked at electronic percussion as an additional tool in the drummer’s toolbox, not as a competitor. I often played with a hybrid setup that included acoustic and electronic percussion instruments. There was a sampler and I even had a MacPlus running Performer incorporated into my rig in the mid-eighties. Well, that toolbox has gotten an update. Read on…
The Drum Set
A drum set is often looked upon as being a loud and obtrusive instrument (just ask my wife). The truth is that in the hands of a skilled professional, drums can deliver a broad dynamic range. Drums can whisper or ROAR. Electronic drums broaden the drummer’s sound palette. It allows the drummer to utilize samples from thousands of different drums and percussion instruments into the electronic drum set. The major shortcoming of electronic percussion, especially in the early years has been a narrow dynamic range. Hitting the pad lightly still produced a loud sound or no sound at all. The technology has improved over the past 35 years or so. But it has never really matched the dynamic range of an acoustic drum.
Bop Pad is the next generation of electronic percussion controllers. Developed by Keith McMillen Instruments the Bop Pad resembles my old Remo practice pad. That’s where the comparison ends. Under the outer elastomer surface is the cutting edge Smart Sensor Fabric. This fabric contains the high-tech sensors that make this instrument breath. The Bop Pad is divided into four zones. It is pressure sensitive and velocity sensitive and because it has a live continuous radius there are no dead spots. Latency is measured at 2.4 milliseconds, making it very responsive. The lightest possible strike with a single finger on an acoustic drum head will produce an audible and equally soft strike on the Bop Pad. This is what separates Bop Pad from the pack.
Each pad can be split into four separate zones. The BopPad is polyphonic. It allows you to send up to 6 notes per quadrant and you can fire all quadrants simultaneously.
Looking deeper into the technology behind the BopPad, Keith McMillen explains. “One of our most important innovations is the printing of special electronic inks directly onto materials. Making the sensor far more resilient and trimming down the instrument’s size and weight. The sensor fabric is covered with a layer of tuned elastomer. It’s housed in a rugged enclosure to make a tour-ready drum pad controller that will withstand a lifetime of heavy performance.”
BopPad is a MIDI controller. It does not store any sounds internally. It needs to be plugged into a tablet or computer with music software in order to make sounds.
The KMI website tells us about the BopPad Editor. “The BopPad Editor software will be available as a desktop download and iOS app. For ultimate accessibility, we’re also developing a WebMIDI app so you can design presets for BopPad from a web browser. We’re big fans of the Web MIDI and Web Audio APIs. Check out our website for more tutorials if you’re interested in making music in your browser!”
KMI kicked off their KickStarter campaign to scale up the production of the Bop Pad on August 26th. We wish them much success with this project.
Check out these videos. I want one!