Norges musikkhøgskole Norwegian Academy of Music
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The vibrating drum, developing a musical practice for the modern percussionist

The urge of exploring new ways of approaching the instrument is the major driving force for an improvising musician. In percussionist Ingar Zach's case it is a natural need and a responsibility to search for alternative techniques and possibilities of sound on his instrument.

New ways of approaching the instrument

During Zach's career he has been searching for techniques that could make the drumskin vibrate by itself, leaving his hands free to manipulate it. He has incorporated in his setup small vibrating speakers on drumheads, becoming familiar with the sounding results of this practice.

Research on vibrating material and surfaces has been done by the Italian composer Michelangelo Lupone and also by the Australian percussionist Matthias Schack-Arnott. They have been following a very scientific and technological approach to the phenomena of vibrating surfaces whereas Zach's interest goes more towards performing practices and musical creation using vibrating speakers.

The investigation

The first part of the investigation will focus on how to build vibrating speakers with different characteristics which can be controlled electronically through sound sources from an IPad or computer. I am interested in the manufacture of a speaker with enough power to deal with frequencies in the low register.

Having a broad band of frequencies at my disposal, I will investigate how to prepare the skin with various objects and study the wide sonic results given by the preparation and manipulation. The result of this research will culminate in new music works for percussion.

In my opinion it is crucial that this kind of research is led by the musician him/herself with his/her instrument.

Traditionally, the musician has been the tool for the composers to develop and explore “new techniques” and new musical material. During my research I will argue the importance of the artist being both the explorer and the creator and possibly bridging the gap between the musician and the creator in many aspects. It is my intention to create a new tool (the vibrating speaker), new musical works and a practice which can be beneficial for future studies of percussion as well as composers and interdisciplinary artists. I intend to collaborate with the percussion students at the Academy, expanding the research in direction of ensemble playing.

In the process of building the vibrating speakers I will seek and initiate a collaboration with NOTAM and technician Marcus Hasli Johnsen.


The research will be documented in form of recordings (audio and video) of live concerts and studio workshops. The concerts will be held during the research period at the Academy in Oslo, but also at other venues outside the institution.

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Published: Nov 16, 2020 — Last updated: Sep 1, 2021