Ingar Zach

The Vibrating Drum, developing a musical practice for the modern percussionist

Norwegian Academy of Music

The purpose of the Ph.D. project The Vibrating Drum, is to investigate the musical potential of the vibrating skin and to add new material to my existing palette as an experimental percussionist, and to develop an alternative musical practice for percussionists.


 The interest of exploring alternative techniques and practices is the major driving force for a curious and adventurous musician. In my case, it is a natural need and a necessity to search for new possibilities of sound production on my instrument.


During my career I have been searching for techniques that could make the drumskin vibrate by itself, leaving my hands free to manipulate it. In my setup I have incorporated small vibrating speakers on drumheads, becoming familiar with the sounding results of this practice.


However, I have always had the sensation that I was only scratching the surface: there was far more to this idea of vibration that needed time for research. I was looking for a user-friendly and effective system of improved tools and technology, to fully be able to develop and comprehend the potential of the phenomena of the vibrating drumskin. As musician, I aim to master and control new techniques on my instrument. With a new haptic system comprising drums, iPads, amplifiers, and transducers, I strive for a musical fluidity. I look for means to achieve this fluidity and to meticulously control the sound production when layering and orchestrating sonic material. The sonic material consists of mostly sine waves and samples of acoustic sound transmitted through the drum’s membrane.


 The subject matter of this research is the phenomenon vibration. I aim to demonstrate methods and techniques with the purpose to explore a multitude of timbres and colours with a skin that vibrates. I emphasize that my interest lies specifically in the acoustic sound production from the skin of the drum. I will show how the production of acoustic sound caused by the membrane’s permeable capacity and the resonance of the instrumental body, influence my ability to adapt and to intervene in the musicking with the haptic system and the surroundings.


 The artistic results will be documented in new musical works for solo percussion. The musical practice employing the haptic system will hopefully be beneficial for future studies of percussion and serve as a tool for composers and interdisciplinary artists.

Ingar Zach is a musician and a musical creator, working in the field of contemporary music. His main sources of creating music are percussion and electronics, and his works often stems from research through his instrumental practice. Since 1999 he co-runs the record label SOFA, and he has been touring and recording worldwide since 1995 with his regular ensembles Dans les arbres, Huntsville, Mural, O3 and his solo projects.



Artistic Research Forum

I will play a short piece and talk about the musical practice I have been developing during the research period.