Jonathan Barber: How I use e-drums

Saturday, 4 May 2019 11:45 am

New York City-based Jonathan Barber, voted up-and-coming drummer of 2018, uses electronics to open doors musically.

Right now, I am starting to perform more with my band, Vision Ahead. I released my debut album independently last year. After releasing the album entitled Vision Ahead, we have been performing at festivals and travelling to music venues around the world. My plan is to record my Sophomore album this summer.

In early 2019, I toured with Pat Metheny. Part of the tour was trio and the other part was trio plus orchestra. Pat is a huge inspiration to me and this was a great opportunity.

I also made an appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City with Nicholas Payton. It has been over a year since I’d played with Nicholas and thoroughly enjoy playing music with him.

Living in New York City has truly opened many doors and pushed me to be a better musician.

My main e-drum equipment is Sensory Percussion. I find SP to be very innovative and I believe this instrument has the ability to push the art of drumming forward.

There’s many different areas within one drum that can trigger a sound. From the centre of the drum, the edge of the drum, the rim of the drum, tip of the rim and cross-stick, the user has so many options in creating musical ideas. Playing SP has inspired me to play the drums with more space, and be intentional with my phrases and patterns.

I’ve used SP on my album. There, I mainly used SP as an accent and a colour while playing the acoustic kit. For me, SP is an extension of the acoustic drum kit and I am able to use the same approach and attack as I was playing an acoustic kit. I love incorporating chords and notes when I use SP.

The real benefit of this system is that the range of sound is endless. Using SP, the software is very sensitive to the touch of the user. Just one sensor allows you to explore the entire drum, triggering different sounds by the speed or velocity that you’re playing at. Using samples, speech or a sound programmed with a lot of production, SP gives you full control to orchestrate a musical presentation that can cover the role of an entire band.