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National Runner Up

Patō

Patō is an electronic, tunable & portable log drum for the modern musician that introduces the sound of the South Pacific into the modern digital environment, bringing finesse & technology to ethnic percussion which is lacking in the musical instrument market.

What it does

Patō is an electronic, tunable & portable log drum for the modern musician that introduces the sound of the South Pacific into the modern digital environment, bringing finesse & technology to ethnic percussion which is lacking in the musical instrument market.


Your inspiration

Music today is ever-changing, so it is important for musical instruments to adapt with the times. However, it is also important that musical traditions are not forgotten. More than ever, people today are enriched by a diversity of ethnic and traditional genres, and in today’s music scene these genres are becoming blended and modernized. With this in mind, my aim was to ultimately diversify and enrich music and its creative process through rejuvenating and modernizing a traditional Tongan Lali (wooden log drum) – enabling musicians to generate new sounds and offering a unique perspective for creation.


How it works

Patō is tunable, generating at least two pitches simultaneously through a polyurethane resin pitch adjuster; digital through the use of an omnidirectional electronic pickup, and streamlined for portability. It enables musicians to generate multiple pitches; new musical sounds; and offers an enhanced and diverse perspective on the creation and experience of making music. The pickup is omnidirectional - receiving signals along the drum evenly, despite being located in the left end cap where it is controlled with a rotating walnut disc. Patō’s electronic technology enables the drum to be connected to a computer and easily recorded. This new innovation opens the door to a raft of added digital effects and potential. When the instrument is struck, vibrations are generated and bounce in between the 5 degree walls of the resonating chamber - generating a vibrant & full sound, with a variety tonal qualities produced when struck in different areas.


Design process

Numerous full scaled prototypes of each component were made to test and iterate the sound quality, aesthetic, functional and cultural values of Patō. In order to preserve the natural sound qualities of the traditional Lali in my product, I made numerous prototypes of the drum, changing the timber, angle, length and width of the channel in order to explore how these factors affect the sound. I tested these prototypes with musicians from various musical backgrounds to see how these prototypes were adapted to a range of musical styles. The design of Patō extends to the drumsticks. Multiple forms were tested to generate a beautiful blend of tone, attack and body. Turned from maple with a more extreme taper than traditional cylindrical sticks, it allows for a wide range of tonal values to be produced when using the whole length of the sticks to play. Through testing numerous different pickups (mostly pickups specifically for percussion instruments) I was also able to trial various ways of amplification and how these affected the timbre the drum generated.


How it is different

This new concept in drumming enables musicians to generate new sounds and brings indigenous knowledge and performativity into a contemporary musical experience, allowing sampling and remixing for the digitally savvy muso who is looking for a Pasifika inflection. Having the option of playing the drum in its natural state as well as through the pickup offers greater musical diversity, making Patō adaptable to both contemporary and traditional styles. The cylindrical Maple body of Patō allows musicians to strike the drum from various angles, unlike the traditional Lali - enabling a wide range of possible tonal qualities. Pato features a slideable tuner which alters the pitch of the drum at given points. A rubber block (made from polyurethane resin) sits underneath the walnut top of the tuner, and with a pinch, allows it to be easily moved and adjusted to the desired pitch. Patō makes the sound of the Pacific readily available in a compact form.


Future plans

Patō has had a wide range of interest within New Zealand, with numerous musicians asking for this instrument to be commercialised. I aim to streamline the manufacturing process and identify the most cost-effective sources for materials and consider outsourcing stick manufacture. Devise marketing & distribution strategy to reach musicians receptive to adding new sound options - in a similar way to how Latin percussion accessories are common add-ons to western drum kits. Lastly, devise a marketing & distribution strategy to target Pacific musicians interested in a compact log drum.


Awards

Red Dot Award, 2017


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