On Marimba Lumina: Electronic Percussion
Pictured here with the Gold Edition of Marimba Lumina, Joel has made the Marimba Lumina his primary electronic instrument. It is an instrument design by the infamous Don Buchla in collaboration with percussionist/technician Joel Davel and programmer/percussionist Mark Goldstein. Joel did the circuit board layout and factory programs and first performed with the above Lumina in June 1999.
Like a traditional marimba (of the xylophone/vibraphone family) it is a melodic keyboard instrument. A sophisticated electronic instrument, it has more creative musical control than a typical electronic keyboard or mallet instrument--allowing the player to transcend the boundaries of your typical live solo or ensemble performance.
With production from both Nearfield Multimedia and Buchla and Associates having ceased, Joel's venture |D| Absolute Deviation is the only source for the Marimba Lumina. Please see the |D| Absolute Deviation website for more info.
Buchla's Marimba Lumina is truly a unique instruments though it borrows heavily from the ideas in Buchla's Thunder and Lightning controllers and Joel often performs on Marimba Lumina in conjunction with the Lightning.
Joel performs on Marimba Lumina Gold with Jack West and Curvature and Marimba Lumina 3.5 with the Paul Dresher Ensemble.
Marimba Lumina makes sophisticated use of radio frequency technology. Unique frequency assignments allow each mallet to have it's own unique response. Overlapping antennas make position along the bar an expressive variable.
Electronic percussion could be made from many different electronic input devices. Force Sensitive Resistors drive most of the MIDI percussion devices available through Alternate Mode Inc. In the past, Joel has also used piezo-electric pickups with the K&K MIDI Master on his acoustic marimba. These technologies, though cleverly implemented, are more limiting.
Of course, electronic percusssion should not be thought of as a replacement for acoustic percussion instruments. There is nothing electronic that can match the natural sound and feel of acoustic instruments. Electronic percussion can however, be approached as an instrument for live performance with a life all its own.
Joel started his affair with electronic percussion using mics hooked up to the "envelope followers" on analog synthesizers (like the Buchla 230 from the popular Buchla 200 series) and piezos glued to clothing and connected to MIDI trigger inputs.