Cyborg Drummer Uses Bionic Arm for Superhuman Beats

Cyborg Drummer Uses Bionic Arm for Superhuman Beats

This bionic drumming prosthetic transcends the physical limits of all but the sickest jams.

One of the greatest regrets of drummers everywhere is that we have only two hands to drum with. So when musician Jason Barnes lost half of his right arm in an accident, he thought his drumming days were over. However, an experimental prosthetic arm from the Georgia Institute of Technology has restored Barnes' ability to make music - and even given him an advantage over every other drummer on the planet. Thanks to his robotic arm, he can play beats with three sticks at once.

The bionic arm holds two drumsticks, controlled independently. The primary stick is moved by a mechanism called electromyography, which reads electrical signals from the skeletal muscles in the upper arm and changes the behavior of the prosthetic "hand" accordingly. This allows Barnes to play with his right hand in a somewhat natural way. The other stick, interestingly, has a mind of its own. Built-in sensors listen to what Barnes is playing, and the on-board motors complement his rhythms with secondary beats.

Barnes succinctly describes the device as "pretty awesome." The second stick's autonomy does mean that he has a little less control over his notes, but at the same time it lets him play in ways that nobody else could replicate. Some die-hard drummers will probably call it cheating, but it works for Barnes; he's making a new musical debut later this month, playing alongside musical robots built by the same man who designed the prosthetic. If all goes well, it looks like "transhuman jazz" could be the world's newest music genre.

Source: New Scientist, via The Independent

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Cognimancer:
Some die-hard drummers will probably call it cheating, but it works for Barnes;

Speaking as a drummer, if I ever saw another drummer saying a guy who was missing half his right arm was cheating by using a robotic prosthetic to be able to play again, I'd happily punch them in the face and tell them to take a hike.

So it begins.
The machines are already taking over,

but don't worry, he's a drummer, so he's long overdue a bizarre gardening accident, spontaneous human combustion or choking on vomit (but not his own vomit)

You know what? This is beautiful. Technology has given this man the ability to explore his passion again. I want to see more of this. I want to see limbs that can act as fully functional limbs, just as good as the ones we're born with.

Cool. On this same topic, sort of, have you guys heard of Cornell Hirsca-Munn? He is a disabled drummer out of Romania, but he has been missing his arms since birth.

Vivi22:

Cognimancer:
Some die-hard drummers will probably call it cheating, but it works for Barnes;

Speaking as a drummer, if I ever saw another drummer saying a guy who was missing half his right arm was cheating by using a robotic prosthetic to be able to play again, I'd happily punch them in the face and tell them to take a hike.

Agreed. Like, how the fuck else is he going to play anyway?

Umm...biotic? Are we sure it's biotic?

As a second point he's also not a cyborg.

Ryan Hughes:
Cool. On this same topic, sort of, have you guys heard of Cornell Hirsca-Munn? He is a disabled drummer out of Romania, but he has been missing his arms since birth.

I hadn't heard of him, but now that I have he's badass.

Dogstile:

Vivi22:

Cognimancer:
Some die-hard drummers will probably call it cheating, but it works for Barnes;

Speaking as a drummer, if I ever saw another drummer saying a guy who was missing half his right arm was cheating by using a robotic prosthetic to be able to play again, I'd happily punch them in the face and tell them to take a hike.

Agreed. Like, how the fuck else is he going to play anyway?

If I lost my arm I know I'd want a prosthetic like that. Hard to replicate the dexterity you get from more than a dozen joints he doesn't have any more working together without coming up with a nifty device like that.

Holy shit, we're in the future. This is the stuff I'd imagine when thinking about cyborgs and cyberpunk/sci-fi; Not a robot marching across the fields of war, but normal people using prosthetics for everyday use in impressive ways.

I'm still worried about the future of prosthetics enhancements and the social pressure of having to cut parts of yourselff off to use them, but having the option of getting a prosthetic you need, that actually works or enhances your life in some way is fantastic.

On the topic of cheating; Well yeah, he is and that should be taken into account if necessary. Don't get me wrong, I don't think he's actually a cheat, just that any defense out of pity for him is misplaced and if there's ever a drummers contest, then maybe the use of a prosthetic with a servo should be taken up for debate.
I can't imagine that it's impossible to make a prosthetic that gives him the same limitations that a drummer who had both of his hands, such as a rubber handle for the drumstick that allows him to "bounce" it.
I'm sorry if someone thinks that's offensive, but there are consequences to these things. Are other drummers supposed to hold a servo that does the same to live up to superhuman drumming?

With a more prudent example, you have Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius who uses leaf springs as prosthetics and can outrun able-bodied athletes in the same events. The springs weigh less than what he's missing and actually gives him an advantage for every step he takes, since they propel him forwards, which was somewhat of a controversy and a prime example of how prosthetics can be too good for competition.

So while I wholeheartedly get the "dude, he's lost his fucking arm" argument and I'm glad that he can actually do what he loves, it doesn't hurt to think beyond one person or profession and look at the bigger picture.

ForumSafari:
Umm...biotic? Are we sure it's biotic?

As a second point he's also not a cyborg.

Yeah... I wondered about that too.
Cognimancer, can we get a fix on that title? Let's not be confusing biotic with bionic please.
...Unless we've discovered eezo and no one's mentioned it before this?

ForumSafari:

As a second point he's also not a cyborg.

How would you define a cyborg?

Generally, the term is used outside of fiction to mean "augmented by technology". Even if you take this to mean "going beyond normal human abilities", that's exactly what he's doing; he plays music in a way that is not usually possible.

ThreeWords:

How would you define a cyborg?

Generally, the term is used outside of fiction to mean "augmented by technology". Even if you take this to mean "going beyond normal human abilities", that's exactly what he's doing; he plays music in a way that is not usually possible.

A cyborg, as opposed to a person with a prosthesis, is an organism with a mixture of mechanical and organic components in which both types of components are reliant on the other for functioning. Cyborgs are people with a machine that keeps them alive and is involved in physiological processes rather than someone that uses a machine as a tool like a false limb.

Kieve:

ForumSafari:
Umm...biotic? Are we sure it's biotic?

As a second point he's also not a cyborg.

Yeah... I wondered about that too.
Cognimancer, can we get a fix on that title? Let's not be confusing biotic with bionic please.
...Unless we've discovered eezo and no one's mentioned it before this?

You're absolutely right. I must have had a little too much Mass Effect on the brain! (fixed now)

Vivi22:
I hadn't heard of him, but now that I have he's badass.

Dogstile:

Vivi22:

Speaking as a drummer, if I ever saw another drummer saying a guy who was missing half his right arm was cheating by using a robotic prosthetic to be able to play again, I'd happily punch them in the face and tell them to take a hike.

Agreed. Like, how the fuck else is he going to play anyway?

If I lost my arm I know I'd want a prosthetic like that. Hard to replicate the dexterity you get from more than a dozen joints he doesn't have any more working together without coming up with a nifty device like that.

Hrisca-Munn is one of my favorite youtubers. He is also just a awesome guy in general, as he is in college studying philosophy, and he now just gets to laugh maniacally at the people who told he could never be a drummer. He does other types of music, too, and like all good drummers, he can take a bad song and make it into something great.

I'm not sure any sane person would accuse Mr. Barnes of cheating. Though, since Oscar Pistoras is now on trial for murder, maybe people's attitudes have changed.

Very interesting, but sounds very mechanical, even though being performed by a human being.

I think the same unique sounds could just be done with a computer program unfortunately.

At this point I feel mislead at the title. Superhuman beats? I had assumed it would be played at a crazy speed.

Still cool that this guy can get back into drumming... Though Rick Allen has been doing this for years without the use of a prosthetic. People tend to forget the mainstream now-a-days...

but... did he ever ask for this?

 

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