I’ve doubled down on electronic percussion. After getting a Korg Wavedrum last year, I finally found a good deal on a Zendrum, which is a finger powered MIDI drum controller. Here is my rationale for the move:
The Wavedrum is a blast to play, but it’s not about precise control. In fact, there are a lot of patches where you give up control–the sounds or pitches shift randomly as one plays. It’s a ‘virtual acoustic’ instrument, not a controller. This works great for some things but if you have to have a kick drum on ‘one’ and a snare on ‘two,’ it is less than ideal. Unlike the Wavedrum, the Zendrum triggers sounds on an external device, like a laptop or a stand-alone drum module.
Since I play a lot of frame drums, I am fairly adept at finger techniques, which translate (for the most part) to the Zendrum. With every new piece of gear there’s a learning curve, so if I can leverage an existing bank of practice time, it’s a bonus.
The downside is that I’ll be bringing a laptop to future gigs if I decide to play out with the Zendrum, which isn’t really a deal killer, just another layer of complexity. I guess I should own up to the fact that I like a certain amount of complexity, even as I claim to want to ban it from my life.