Finger Drumming With A Real Drum Kit

Composer & keyboardist Gil Assayas (GLASYS) shared this video, which captures a live performance of his track, Acceptance.

It also demonstrates his new finger-drumming technique – using a button controller to control a robotic drum kit.

“I’m really excited to share with you my new setup,” he told us. “Thanks to the Polyend Perc drumming machines, I can now control a real drum kit through finger-drumming on my arcade button controller.”

Technical Details:

All the sounds you hear in this performance are played live, simultaneously.

The main keyboard is a Sequential Prophet XL and the bass sound is coming from a Boomstar 4075. Both bass and drums are controlled by my custom built Arcadia keyboard (made by Moldover).

32 thoughts on “Finger Drumming With A Real Drum Kit

  1. If I’m a good enough musician to “finger drum” on a button controller, and I have a drum kit right beside me, why wouldn’t I just finger-drum on the real drums?

    1. You should do it, upload a video and post it to YouTube. Then you can post the link in the comments. I’m sure the result will be MUCH better than this one and you can show us the difference on “real” drums.

    1. Indeed.

      He’s playing bass notes with his drumming hand.

      It would be cool if someone would equip this guy with velocity sensitive pads.

      I like his playing very much. There are lots of great players, but Gil does a pretty unique thing, and he does it impeccably.

  2. You people are so jaded and bitter about this video! It’s just a novel and challenging way to make a piece of music. Nothing more, nothing less.

  3. Sorry, no disrespect but the joy of playing drums is the physicality of it for me
    Been playing drums since 8th grade
    This has zero expression
    No dynamics
    Sounds worse than a drum machine

  4. GLASYS:
    *plays sick beat and bass with one hand and virtuoso keys with the other in a nearly perfect performance*

    << why u no play real drums like real drummer
    << gimmick
    << no filter sweep
    << not playing Robert Miles – Children

  5. Pretty cool setup and impressive playing.

    There are several comments about zero expression, but I disagree.
    I like the controlled dynamics. I am sure most recording engineers would too.

    The next step would be separate the individual drums in isolation booths with someone playing a midi kit outside.

  6. Thanks for the feedback and kind words! Just wanna address a few of the comments:
    Because I’m playing both bass and drums with my left hand, I can’t lift my hand to strike the buttons very hard, so velocity sensitivity would sound very inconsistent. Instead, I gave each button a different fixed velocity to provide variation (there are 3 buttons that trigger the hihat for example). I am still searching for the best way to achieve maximum expression, this technique is a work in progress.

    Also, I’m not claiming that this sounds like a real drummer or replaces one. The point is to try something new and exciting, challenge myself and hopefully inspire others.

    Cheers. 🙂

    1. Far be it for me to give you advice, and please know that these suggestions come from a genuine enthusiasm about what you do. I’ve played keyboard drums since the 90’s and dynamics is such an important and satisfying part of it for me.

      I’d encourage you to consider trying velocity controlled drums via a keyboard (rather than buttons or velocity pads). For one, you are such an awesome player, I have ZERO doubt that you’d be able to make it work (even while playing bass with your drumming hand). I know you like your custom button bank, but you could get a small velocity keyboard like a korg MicroKey (or similar), and either play bass with your feet on some kind of Taurus or McMillen 12-step, or similar, Or continue to play bass with your drum hand and work out ways to map bass notes and drum notes along the same keyboard. Requires some clever planning, but not impossible. If you still want to keep bass & drums separate, you could try putting one MicroKey over another, as the bezels are pretty narrow.

      As for using real drums vs samples, that part kinda doesn’t matter that much to me. It’s fun to see, but doesn’t really bring out the best sound in the drums.

      What I LOVE about what you do is the music you make, which is always amazing.

      1. Thanks for the suggestions Stub! I really appreciate your compliments about my music too.
        I’ve tried doing the drums on a keyboard, it didn’t really work for me. It’s important to me to have separate control over the drums and bass using the same hand (I need my feet for sustain and expression pedals, and also like performing standing up) and I also find keys to be too narrow for this technique. I like the layout of my controller, but think that some time down the line I’ll try to replace the arcade buttons with something that feels more like a key but has the size of a pad, and velocity that can be turned on or off per note.

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