The ExCITe Center is currently working with artist in residence Peter English. This work is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's arts program, which aims to engage and enrich Philadelphia through the arts. Peter is working in close collaboration with MET-lab researcher Jeff Gregorio to develop augmented instruments for use in an upcoming live music performance and interactive sound installation in June 2017. 

Preliminary work has focused on using acoustic synthesis methods to augment the sound production of acoustic drums. The system uses electromagnet actuators capable of inducing drum heads to vibration using both synthesized signals and modulated feedback taken from the drum. Jeff and Peter have explored various methods of sound production and interaction on the actuated drum prototypes, and are currently working on scaling the system to a larger sixteen-drum ensemble.  

The system uses a power amplifier designed by former MET-lab researcher Dr. Andrew McPherson [1], and incorporates a custom preamplifier, signal processing on a Teensy 3.6 microcontroller, and inter-instrument communication on an ESP8266 wifi-enabled microcontroller.  Schematics, board layouts, and firmware are available at https://github.com/JeffGregorio/ActuatedDrums.

[1] Andrew McPherson. 2012. Techniques and Circuits for Electromagnetic Instrument Actuation. In Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.