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Acoustic cymbals as trigger sources
Old 11th September 2012
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Acoustic cymbals as trigger sources

Hi there. First off, I know this might seem like a strange thing to be attempting, but it is actually very important to a larger project I'm developing. I hope somebody might have an ingenious solution to my problem!

I've been working on a set of DIY piezo drum triggers for use on acoustic drum kits, roughly the same as detailed in this SOS article: Making Your Own Drum Triggers

I'm sending the triggers' outputs to my interface, and then using Reaktor to convert it all to MIDI - essentially I've built a drum brain which I can adapt and tweak to my heart's content. At its most simple, the triggers' outputs are a gate source, controlling MIDI note-on and -off messages.

This system works fantastically for kick, snare and toms; but of course cymbals are much more of an issue. Cymbals naturally don't have those nice sharp transients of a drum, and a light hit can easily be masked by the wash left over from a previous strike.

I've had reasonable results after a lot of work within Reaktor, but I feel that there must be some clever trick I haven't tried yet. I've been testing mostly with a ride cymbal as a source, the worst culprit for wash. My best method so far is relatively simple, using a very steep low-pass filter on the trigger signal, to get rid of a lot of the shimmer/wash before it's sent to the trigger process, but it's still pretty unreliable. I've also experimented with different materials between the piezo and cymbal, but I haven't struck gold yet.

It's important to me that the sound of the cymbals aren't altered too much to the drummer's ears, i.e. I'd rather not dampen them too much if I can avoid it.

I'm pretty handy with Reaktor, and I'd be willing to try out even the wackiest ideas anyone comes up with. Electronics still seem like black magic to me though (I'm thrilled just to have succeeded in soldering a piezo transducer to a jack) so those ideas might need a touch more explaining!

I hope I've explained the scenario clearly, and I'd love to hear some ideas!

Old 11th September 2012
Lives for gear
Radardoug's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 10 years
Using a steep lowpass filter will cause the trigger waveform to rise slowly, giving you a bad trigger. Try using an opamp set for high gain at the front of the chain. Or maybe even a comparator set at the zero crossing or with an adjustable threshold.
Old 17th September 2012
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 10 years
if your just triggering it. buy a sheet of clear vinyl,cut around the cymbal and mount it under with double sided tape. This dampens the extra vibrations making a great trigger. you can even put one under the bell and have a dual trigger if you can adjust the sensitivity.

if your trying something else the only thing I can think of is sending the trigger input into a external gate with a high threshold so the extra vibrations get choked. This will of course limit it's uses of fant or fine hits. basically your asking to defy physics.
Old 17th September 2012
Lives for gear
NYCruiser's Avatar
1 Review written
๐ŸŽง 5 years
If you're just triggering, you don't need to use a cymbal in that spot at all. Just put up something to hit that will provide the trigger. Even a roto-tom would work.
Old 19th September 2012 | Show parent
Here for the gear
๐ŸŽง 5 years
Originally Posted by doulos30 โžก๏ธ
basically your asking to defy physics.
I'm beginning to think this may be the case.

Radardoug, that's a good point about the low frequency waves as poor trigger sources; that hadn't occurred to me yet.

I might try doulos30's vinyl idea when I get a chance. It's critical that the drummer is still playing a ride cymbal, and that said cymbal sounds (reasonably) natural.

I read elsewhere on the net a post by a disabled drummer who was looking to do a similar thing. He couldn't use his legs, and wanted to have a crash cymbal trigger the kick. He used transient designers to shape the waveforms. I've been playing with that a bit - and it helps - but it's not going to let me bypass the laws of physics.
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