The ubiquity of evolving technologies has radically and rapidly changed how people interact with the world around them. Is the same true of how instrumentalists interact with performance? My research strives to create a means of accessible, improvised solo drum-set performance which incorporates triggering and sampling technologies in real-time. I will develop new techniques of drum-set performance. I will explore the status of the instrumentalist within the world of digital audio artefact creation, and challenge the nature of “trans-human” subjectivity in the 21st Century.
How can we understand the drum-set – and thus drummer – as technological? How have technological developments affected change in drum-set performance and drum-set construction? Are the relationships between new technologies and the drummer symbiotic, or one way? To what extent are instruments and (reactive) technological applications merely tools, objective in musical creation?
I aim to create a new conceptual means of drum-set performance as solo instrument, creating full musical environments by wielding new technologies as part of the drum-set. In short, I wish to redress the asymmetrical influence from technology to drummer.
My research will be presented as a DVD documentary, interspersing footage from live performances of my artistic work, in which I explore and demonstrate my practical and technological experiments, feature interviews of practitioners and show artistic research in action. Included will be a brief history of the drum-set’s innate technological impetus, evolving as new developments occur. The stylistic history of drum-set performance can be traced through parallel technological developments. Such an elaboration does not yet fully exist. While “histories” of the drum-set exist from both artists and critics none broaden their scope further than the physicality of the (historical) drum at the point of use. My history will endeavour to reframe the developing drum-set primarily as a technological achievement relative to performative need. Concurrently, I will exposit a thorough assessment of my equipment and its development, contrasted with the idiosyncratic drum-set “technologies” of pioneering drummers, drawing a clear line between drummers’ (performance and performative) identity and technologies exploited.
This history will end where my artistic research will begin. We now occupy – for the first time – a technological world in which true electro-acoustic hybridity between drummer and drum can be achieved. While many drummers have pushed forward the drummer’s role in relation to technological developments, I will argue they occupy two, narrow epistemological streams: Emulators and Prescriptivists.
Understanding the drum-set as technological artefact opens up new creative horizons; I will break down the false hierarchy that exists in the hyphen between electro-acoustic. My research is not a case of man versus machine, but man as machine, machine as man – subject as object, object as subject. These two approaches will be compared and contrasted, discussed and demonstrated, before being synthesized into my innovative approach. In contrast to both emulators and prescriptivists, I wish to elucidate and demonstrate a philosophy within performance, rather than of it. Such research was heretofore impossible.
Using cutting edge technologies I will develop new artistic techniques to fully integrate the technological with the human in drum-set performance in previously unimaginable ways; I aim to introduce spontaneity into the technological impact of developing drum-set techniques. Only now, with software and hardware becoming more ubiquitous and seamless in their application, can true electro-acoustic hybridity be achieved musically. By this, I mean a performance based on the drum-set and other technologies with one rule: symbiotic integration between electronic and acoustic. No pre-sets, no collaborators. While triggers, midi controllers and sophisticated DAWs are in use, no examples fully integrate them into live, improvised performance. Pedagogical drum-set texts either comment glibly on the relationship between acoustic and electronic performance, seeing them as discrete actualities, or ignore them altogether.
The academic context of my research will illuminate and fill what I identify as the gaps within Performance Philosophy and Object-Oriented Ontology. For one, neither “new” school of thought takes much note of music, let alone music-in-performance. I will explore ideas of creation in performance, interrogating the fluidities between subject and object in relation to the Internet of Things as a lived potentiality and what Timothy Morton labels as “interobjectivity”, a philosophy which must account for object-object relations. I will posit the instrumentalist as object in relation to instrument-as-object and music-as-object, delineating a non-relational autonomy within (technological) musical performance, enabling an egalitarian relationship between performer and (technological) instrument. I will delve into the concept of self in relation to technology in the modern age. I will elaborate on the idea of drummer as both 0 and i (object and subject), rather than what Mayer elucidates as the space between 0 and 1 – a humanised potentiality when performing electronic audio artefacts – while mirroring the distinction when addressing new technologies.
My aim is for my artistic output to draw in non-expert music fans, and will be shaped around the influences of house music, dance music and drum and bass. Thus, I will be able to broaden the reach and awareness of contemporary philosophical developments beyond institutional, self-sustaining environments. I wish to actualize a means through which laypersons can engage with complex ideas through – and because of – my artistic output. I hope to be able to present my conceptually complex artistic output in settings like nightclubs, rather than concert halls or lectures. My artistic output, therefore, will aim to offer an artistic route through an increasingly transhumanist world for performing musicians and be accessible to as many people as possible. I will be adding valuable diversity to the underdeveloped analysis of the drum-set, both phenomenologically and in performance. Furthermore, my research will establish an awareness of new evaluative taxonomy of music and music-in-performance within often firmly disciplinary academic circles, enriching both artistic and academic narratives of subjectivity in relation to new technologies.