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Productizing the Footboard

November 18th, 2013
footboard  [html]
The drum kit was designed around the idea that you need to hit big things to make appropriate noises. Electronic drum kits mimic the interface provided by acoustic kits in order to be familiar, but that's not the ideal interface. Instead whacking a pad with a stick or pushing a bulky pedal, all you need is way to consistently trigger a simple piezo mic. The standard interface hasn't caught up with the technology.

I've now played the footboard at a dance, and I think it has real potential. I'm still learning how to play it, but even at this early state of practice I think it can add a lot. After all, I already have years of experience tapping my foot in time to the music. Here are some samples of how it sounded playing with the Free Raisins on Saturday, not yet having practiced with it as a group:

(These are mixes I just made myself with the percussion turned up really loud so it would be clear what I've been talking about. At a dance we wouldn't want the drums to be this forward.)

This could be a real product, something you could get at the local music store to accompany yourself while you played guitar or keyboard or whatever. It could either be a set of triggers to go with a drum module, which is what I have now, or it could be a full stand-alone system. The basic ingredients are cheap: the mic costs pennies, the processor and sound synthesis should be under $25, and you could sell the whole thing for $100 with a good profit. How does this take the next step towards reality? Does someone want to make these? Should I do a kickstarter?

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