Feeling jazz

Last night I heard an excellent show by my roomate’s jazz band, Jazz Warriors. It was mostly acoustic, but he used a loop pedal, delay pedal, turntable/scratch mixer, and vocal mic alongside his regular jazz kit. The turntable and vocal mic added a little hiphop flavor, but the loop pedal really changed the performance possibilities—he was able to play different and more rhythms than would normally be possible, and also self-harmonize while singing. But at the same time the functions he was using on the pedal were extremely basic: in-point set, out-point set, on/off, sample trigger, etc.

In terms of vibrotactility, the performance space was excellent because the floor was entirely wooden and hollow. Almost all the instruments in the band could be felt as well as heard. Unfortunately the tabla and keyboard were only audible, but the rest of the instruments could be felt. The upright bass (amplified), saxophone, and individual components of the drum kit seemed to be differentiable. I felt the upright bass and lower sax frequencies in the chair I was sitting in and throughout my whole body as a mostly-constant background presence. Additionally, the snare drum felt like a distinct punch in my chest and hands. But the most distinct vibrotactile sensations came from the toms, which, in different combinations, would light up separate regions of the soles of my feet. For instance, one would be felt in my heel, another in the area just behind my toes, another in the instep. To put it dryly, tom fills were mapped to spatiotemporal patterns of vibrotactile sensation in my feet. It was really fun.

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