Josh Green's Epic Sensory Percussion-Controlled Light Rig
sensory setups
A photo of a drum set and an elaborate lighting rig

Josh Green is a drummer with a penchant for the absurd. You can hear his work with artists such as Infradig, The Distribution, and Josh Garrels. Most notably, he recorded, edited, and published a full drum loop library every day for a year ( Currently Josh is exploring the world of DMX lighting control via a DIY Sensory Percussion setup.

You've created an impressive lighting setup all controlled by the drums. What was the idea you were going for with the rig?

My current light rig is the product of an ongoing fascination with pairing visuals with performance. I first started down this path a couple of years back by building a DMX based light show for my band Summer Dregs. As I got deeper into the possibilities of light control via Midi/DMX, a desire grew to create a solo act based on Sensory Percussion that would be live triggered and visually striking.

Can you walk us through the setup? What is in it? How is it put together?

The DMX control is from an Entecc DMXIS. This piece of hardware is used within Ableton and routes data to singular DMX switch boxes that are each attached to simple LED strips. I run the LEDs through special ordered translucent PVC tubes that do a great job of dispersing the light. Additionally, I have LED strips running through the interior of the individual drum shells.

Using the DMXIS with Ableton is great because I can define exact parameters of color, light, intensity, and strobe, by creating envelopes and assigning them within the RGB realm.

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How are you using Sensory Percussion to control the lights?

This is actually the easiest part. After creating the lighting parameters in Ableton, I simply assign midi notes within the zones of Sensory Percussion. Since there are so many zones available within SP, I am able to have multiple color and light themes available on a single instrument.

Did you run into any issues putting it all together?

As with any DIY creation, there were a host of issues, but none that were overly complex. Initially, the biggest barrier was designing an aesthetic that would have form and function. I built 4 boxes that house the DMX hardware and hold the light tubes vertically. I had to figure out a structure for the rig to stand upright while also being consistently portable. I had to get a LOT better at soldering.

Are you planning any other improvements or changes to the setup?

What's great about this creative avenue is it lends itself to innovation and exploration. When I built my first LED drum setup a couple of years ago, I could not imagine how it could have developed into what I have now. I have even optimized it a good bit from the initial construction of the rig that I built just a few months ago. If nothing else, I will continue to daisy chain more and more LED laden objects to illuminate whilst I drum.

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Any tips for other drummers looking to dive into controlling lights with their drums?

There are a number of paths available for light control, but I do feel that the DMXIS with some basic DMX controllers is a really optimal first step.

A photo of Josh Green
Josh Green

Josh's Gear List:

  • Drums:
    • Yamaha Hipgig Jr.
    • Kick- 16X16
    • Snare- 5X14
    • Rack/Floor toms- 13X8
  • Remo Silentstroke mesh heads
  • Macbook Pro; holding strong with Mojave
  • Scarlett 18i8 interface
  • Entecc DMXIS DMX controller
  • DMX switches & LED strips by Sirs-E

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