Powerhouse percussionist Greg Fox uses ‘sensory percussion’ to turn his whole kit into a MIDI controller | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Powerhouse percussionist Greg Fox uses ‘sensory percussion’ to turn his whole kit into a MIDI controller



Update: According to an Instagram post by Experimental Sound Studio, Greg Fox's flight to Chicago has been canceled. He will no longer conduct his workshop at ESS or perform at the Hideout.

Drummer Greg Fox has been duly celebrated over the last decade for his mind-melting work with a range of heavy projects including Liturgy, Zs, Man Forever, and his own Guardian Alien. Now Fox has let his curiosity take him beyond his rock chops into different sound worlds. He takes part in an immersive process invented by Tlacael Esparza called "sensory percussion," which utilizes multiple sensors to capture drum vibrations to turn an entire kit into a MIDI controller. The electronic sounds on Fox’s 2014 solo album, Mitral Transmissions, were developed after encounters with the singular avant-garde jazz percussionist, herbalist, healer, and thinker Milford Graves, who developed MIDI software that uses the rhythm of a person’s biological data—namely, the heartbeat—to trigger virtual instruments; Graves read and recorded Fox's heartbeat, and gave him the score generated by the program to use for his new album. For his more listenable follow-up, The Gradual Progression (RVNG), he's turned back toward conventional instrumentation—his own rigorous kit drumming along with well-placed melodic and harmonic material by saxophonist Maria Grand, guitarist Michael Beharie, bassist Justin Frye, and singer Curtis Santiago. Fox has explained that the various melodies and timbres he uses in his sensory percussion are designed to let the body and its functions lead to sonic discovery and help explore emotional states. For this rare solo performance he’ll use this process in a more stripped-down setting, and earlier in the day he’ll lead a workshop on sensory percussion at Experimental Sound Studio.    v

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