Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Jarred Katz | August 25

Greetings, Racers!

This Sunday, we are pleased to present our friend, drummer Jarred Katz!

Jarred is a Seattle-based drummer/percussionist/producer. Born in Spokane, WA, Jarred moved to Seattle in 2008 to study at the University of Washington where he graduated with a BM in Jazz Studies. Jarred tours nationally with his groups The Dip, a seven piece r&b/pop ensemble, and Beat Connection, an electro-pop quartet.

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Jarred will be presenting a work for solo drums and electronics, and has been so kind as to provide a wonderful, detail-rich blog for you to read in anticipation of the session! So keep scrolling for more details, and make sure to his Racer Sessions this Sunday at 8pm to witness and hear this work!

“Hey everyone!

Excited to be curating at Racer once again! I’m stoked to be debuting a few new pieces for solo drum set that I’ve been working on this Summer. I’ll be integrating a new type of drum technology called Sunhouse Sensory Percussion and it is a blast to use! Sensory Percussion is quickly revolutionizing how one can approach the drums. It’s ultimately a sampler specifically designed for drummers. Here’s a brief description on how it works via the Sunhouse website (way more succinctly written than I could provide):

"Sensory Percussion uses a combination of sensors to directly capture the vibrations of your entire drum. Designed to isolate your drum from other noise, you can use it on stage and in loud environments. It connects like a standard microphone, using XLR connectors to plug directly into your chosen audio interface. Sensory Percussion’s software uses proprietary algorithms to analyze signals from up to 4 sensors to detect where and how you hit the drum, allowing you to map your playing to control sounds, effects, lighting and more."

Pretty cool stuff and definitely a bit of a learning curve, but the main takeaway is that Sensory Percussion combines the expressive power of real drums with the freedom of digital control. As opposed to using an auxiliary Roland drum pad or something like that, you can now cue samples on the drum itself and play them how you would normally play a drum. Its a much more humanistic method of performing programmed sounds. You can map out different chords, one hits, or melodies on different parts of each drum (i.e. you can have one sound that is activated when you hit the center of the drum, a different sound when you hit the edge of the drum, and even control the sounds in between those two areas).

To get a feel for how these drum sensors work a bit more, check out a video of piece I composed last fall using Sensory Percussion. I programmed basketball related samples and mapped them out on different parts of the drums:

For Sunday’s curation, I’ll be performing on a hybrid drum kit that features normal acoustic drums as well as a drums that feature sensory percussion. I’ll be playing three new pieces for the very first time!

For the improvs that follow my pieces, I’ll be detaching the sensory percussion and returning the shared drum kit for the evening back to it’s acoustic self. This is to avoid having the open improvs turn into a drummer centric nerd out hang where all we do is talk about the Sensory Percussion software and test things out; meanwhile everyone else is standing around waiting to get started haha. That being said, if time permits at the end of the evening or anyone wants to link up and exchange info, I’d be more than happy to show people how these sensors work a bit more in depth.

Some themes/thoughts that I’d like to guide the improvs:

1. I really tried to integrate specific exercises I had been working on in my practice routine as at the basis for composing pieces. I wouldn’t let those exercises dictate the flow of piece, but just really to get the ideas moving. I encourage people to think about how something simple they might be working on (paradiddles in my case) can help form one idea of a piece. In turn, what you end up composing and how that evolves, can cycle back into what may be good to work on while practicing.

2. Throw a wrench in your basic setup. Yes, I realize that its a bit easier to do on the drums then some other instruments, but for me it really helped open up a whole new realm of ideas to do this. I swapped in random combinations of cymbals I hadn’t used in a while, used different drum heads, experimented with more abrasive drum tunings, and even used something odd like tin foil (maybe that’s not that weird). I did these tweaks in an effort to level up my acoustic drum sounds and try and match the experimental samples and tones I was getting with the Sensory Percussion.

Thinking about these concepts when I was at square one of composing really helped me keep my composition process flowing.

Hope you can check it out and see you Sunday!