Jump to content

The Thummer (formerly The Jammer)


Recommended Posts

Gentlepersons,

 

Thumtronics Ltd will be announcing the details of its new electronic musical instrument, the Thummer, in early November -- details which may be of particular interest to the concertina community.

 

You may recall a similar posting, some months ago, from Jamatronics, regarding the Jammer; the company and product have been renamed Thumtronics and the Thummer respectively for trademark reasons. Same product, same company, new names.

 

In the meantime, you can find a very detailed discussion of the Thummer's keyboard, and the implications of its characteristics to music theory and music education, in a PowerPoint presentation at

www.thumtronics.com/isomorphism.ppt.

 

This presentation requires that PowerPoint be installed. (I am investigating ways of providing this information without requiring a special viewer; Impatica looks good.)

 

The Thummer uses a Wicki/Hayden keyboard layout, for reasons described in the PowerPoint presentation. This layout (and a few closely-related layouts) have very interesting musical properties that go well beyond "having the same fingering in all keys" -- especially when combined with electronic transposition, and when the degrees of the current key's diatonic scale are held in fixed locations.

 

Should the Thummer prove to be popular -- as expert opinion suggests that it should -- members of the concertina-playing community (especially those familair with the Hayden layout) will have a head-start on exploiting this rising demand for their expertise. I hope that you will consider taking advantage of this opportunity.

 

Finally, please let me thank the concertina community for bringing the Wicki/Hayden layout to my attention, and especially thank Brian Hayden for his independent invention of it, which revived it from obscurity. This layout is a powerful embodiment of the principle of isomorphism, and its geometry underlies all of Thumtronics' other innovations.

 

Thanks! :-)

 

Jim Plamondon

CEO, Thumtronics Ltd

The New Shape of Music

www.thumtronics.com

 

P.S.: I asked for beta-testers in a previous posting, and many of you volunteered, which I appreciate. Beta-testing will commence in November.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find it really interesting that this hasn't generated more interest -- it's puzzling! I thought I'd end the silence, and perhaps others will join me in confessing their puzzlement at this project:

 

1. Could it be that important information is included in the powerpoint presentation, and due to this format, many c.net readers aren't even viewing the information?

 

2. The website contains little information that would indicate that the "Thummer" goes beyond being a MIDI-Hayden concertina. In fact, there very little information at all on the website, besides hyperbole and self-praise.

 

3. If the Thummer is a MIDI-Hayden, why not just call it that? -- if there was a thread called "MIDI-Hayden in production," I think that c.netters would have responded with curiosity and enthusiasm. Besides, both the original name ("Jammer") and "Thummer" seem a bit like toy names. In all honesty, I think these names are terrible.

 

4. Perhaps many of us are frightened of, or simply amused by, all the hyperbole on the Thumtronics website, for example:

"If you devote yourself to mastery of the Thummer -- quick, while it's still new -- then you will be far more likely to be remembered as one of the greatest instrumentalists of all time."

"Do you aspire to the wealth, fame, and lifestyle that commercial success in pop music can bring? Then the Thummer can be your ticket to paradise."

 

5. It might seem odd to some of us, given that Mr. Hayden is so generous with consulting others who would like to make instruments with the Hayden layout, that the entire presentation of the Jamm... er... Thummer seems to be all about not revealing information, protecting a trademark, hyping a product, etc. It's like there's a "top secret" weapon under development, and for some reason the makers of that weapon feel compelled to advertise it before there is anything to show.

 

6. Compare the Thummer's hyped-up website with the understated marketing of the Morse concertinas, which have managed to put hundreds of affordable instruments in the hands of players, or Tedrow's very low-key "concertina tour" with photos of him holding up a booklet in which members of the community have written candid feedback. Or Wim Wakker's simple webpage describing his MIDI-concertinas.

 

7. I wish that I could say that I wish this project the best, but a read-through of the website, including the business about "Thumbsolfa"... I'm sorry, but I hope that the "experts" were wrong about predicting the success of this endeavor.

 

Perhaps all of this is actually a farce -- one can only hope -- and then the joke's on me!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. Could it be that important information is included in the powerpoint presentation, and due to this format, many c.net readers aren't even viewing the information?

Maybe so, when I paste the URL www.thumtronics.com/isomorphism.ppt. into my browser all I get is an "Oops !!! The page you tried to access does not exist on this server" message.

 

So here's a link to the www.thumtronics.com home page.

 

But frankly, I'm none the wiser ... :huh:

Edited by Stephen Chambers
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can only agree with you Andy.

Who ever dreamt up both of these names and expects them to be taken seriously needs their heads examined.If it was nearer to April 1st I would have assumed it was an April Fool joke.

I suppose "Jammer" is a slight connection to Jam Session but "Thummer" sounds like the brother of Bambi`s friend.

If it is an Electronic Concertina then it would be of interested (purely to play with ear phones on )and should be advertised as such and developed for other concertina types.If it is not please explain properly.

This is a classic example of non salesman knowing his product and expecting everyone else to know what he is talking about without a full explanation.

You may think this is a big swipe at you Jim ,but this is constructive critisism.

I wish you well with it, whatever it is.

Al

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've corresponded with Jim (the Thumber guy, that is) and am very impressed with the work and progress that he's done in creating the device. I've even seen photos of his prototypes - they are very real and engaging!

 

OTOH, his PowerPoint presentation is... ah, bewildering.... Really, I can't understand most of it, and I consider myself to be reasonably musically- and Hayden-profficiant. It's a cerebral tour-de-force without being very useful or practical - for me anyway. It may have partly been because the graphics are really lame, there was no sound or motion (maybe there is but I was unable to elicit any), and there was some problem with the file as the thing froze with some sort of warning error near the end.

 

I agree that there are a lot of improvements he could make to his site and PP presentation starting with some photos of his baby and basic information about it (relegate the arcane about the system to links for deep divers). Still, I think he's got a great product, and with some more sensitive marketing, I think he'll do very well. I think it will be a significant plus on the scene.

 

Even though he'll be sending out units for beta-testing in a few months, I hope he would be a little more upfront about his device on concertina.net here as I'm sure he'd get a lot of very useful feedback from us. For instance, the buttons all have dimples in them rather than being slightly domed.... Sort of like how the "C" button is on the bass of most piano accordions. I highly suggest a domed (the Morse concertinas have a very flattened eliptical) top as I think it make for better triplets and "centering" feel. Maybe he doesn't do triplets?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've corresponded with Jim (the Thumber guy, that is) and am very impressed with the work and progress that he's done in creating the device. I've even seen photos of his prototypes - they are very real and engaging!

[...]

Still, I think he's got a great product, and with some more sensitive marketing, I think he'll do very well. I think it will be a significant plus on the scene.

 

Well, that's an opinion that I trust. My reaction is to the presentation (or lack thereof) and marketing hype, not the product itself -- due to the fact that no substantial information about the product is offered by the website or in Jim's posts to c.net. Once this thing appears to be more real, and less about things like becoming the world's greatest instrumentalist, or acquiring wealth and fame as a pop musician, I imagine that I'll also be enthusiastic about it's potential. Perhaps we could all offer Jim P. some constructive feedback about the marketing, if he wants it. For me, it's got to start with the name. "Plamondon" sounds good to me, whereas "Thummer" sounds a bit like some of the products advertised in the SPAM that my email software now filters!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Thummer's layout may be quite like a Hayden, but it's a safe bet that Hayden players are NOT the target market. Our population (despite the current mighty ground-swell) just doesn't justify this scale of mass production. And if Haydenistas were interested in pop music stardom, we'd be playing synthesizers.

 

My (jazz musician) son noodled with a Hayden-layout keyboard that I built; "Wow, this would be GREAT for teaching music theory!" Fingering intervals, rather than notes, intrigued him. But only after he actually got his hands on it.

 

I suspect that introducing Thummers is like introducing Post-It notes -- to sell it, put one in somebody's hands and let them play. Easy with a pad of paper, harder with an electronic product.

 

Come to think, that's how I sold a Hayden recently.

 

Good luck to 'em. Paul E.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the best things Jim could do it to put some pictures up to show that the Thumber (or whatever he winds up calling it) isn't vaporware - as so many super hyped things tend to be.

 

Another thing would be to write some simple software to allow anyone to get their hands on a rough prototype of this system - their own keyboard! There already is keystroke maping software out there to enable folks to change any key to produce a tone rather than the text associated with it. Several years ago I set my computer keyboard up to be a Hayden system... it worked quite well! I was able to play with both hands about 3 octaves, fully chromatically.

 

I can't remember what software I used was, but it was shareware, and I remember that the buying price was pretty low (like $20). It was also much more sophisiticated than I needed. I'm sure that Jim could come up with something similar that was "pre-loaded" to map a Hayden system. I had to enter each key option manually. Having such software downloadable for free from his site would create a lot of interest in his system as people could see and experience the system now so by the time his devices were available he'd have a ready horde of buyers.

 

I also think that by putting more effort into attracting novice musicians to his device will he be able to spread the word better than trying to convert seasoned musicians who have so much time/effort/money already invested in their current instruments.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another thing would be to write some simple software to allow anyone to get their hands on a rough prototype of this system - their own keyboard! There already is keystroke maping software out there to enable folks to change any key to produce a tone rather than the text associated with it. Several years ago I set my computer keyboard up to be a Hayden system... it worked quite well! I was able to play with both hands about 3 octaves, fully chromatically.
Jim even refers to this possibility in the Power Point presentation, but doesn't go the last mile and spoon-feed it to users.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several years ago I set my computer keyboard up to be a Hayden system...
Jim even refers to this possibility in the Power Point presentation, but doesn't go the last mile and spoon-feed it to users.

Now if only I could view the PowerPoint presentation....

 

I did buy a copy of Microsoft Office when I got my computer. Unfortunately, I didn't learn until too late that the "Small Business" edition of Office included neither Powerpoint nor Access (MS' database product). (I wonder whether Microsoft thinks that only large businesses use slide presentations and databases.) I was so annoyed that I've never bothered to purchase those products separately. If I want to view James' presentation, I'm going to have to visit a friend to do so.

 

I wonder how many others of the Thummer's potential target market are similarly, literally unable to see their principal promotional package. :unsure:

 

Personally, I'm no great fan of PDF, either, but at least I'm able to view PDF documents on my computer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now if only I could view the PowerPoint presentation....
Where is Bob Gaskins when you need him? :)

 

I was unable to view it on my Macintosh (after the lengthy download) even though "AppleWorks" (the Mac's version of an 'Office'-type suite) has a presentation module and translators for files in many other Microsoft formats (Word, Excel, etc.).

 

I actually didn't see it until yesterday afternoon, when I took some time after work to try it on the computer there (a Windows PC), and it opened easily in a browser window, with the help, no doubt, of an appropriately configured plug-in. Long, but interesting. If there was sound associated with it, I did not hear it.

 

The viewer that Roy suggests looks like just the thing for Windows users. There also appears to be a Mac version here, although I have not tried it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder how many others of the Thummer's potential target market are similarly, literally unable to see their principal promotional package. :unsure:

 

Personally, I'm no great fan of PDF, either, but at least I'm able to view PDF documents on my computer.

 

Now I am thinking that the whole presentation -- website AND powerpoint presentation -- is perhaps not aimed at the potential players at all! (Not Hayden-players, not c.net readers, not potential pop-stars who dream of world domination and hordes of groupies.) Maybe the presentation is aimed at potential _investors_? (They are the ones who would want to hear superlative claims and confidence.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder how many others of the Thummer's potential target market are similarly, literally unable to see their principal promotional package. :unsure:

 

Personally, I'm no great fan of PDF, either, but at least I'm able to view PDF documents on my computer.

 

Now I am thinking that the whole presentation -- website AND powerpoint presentation -- is perhaps not aimed at the potential players at all! (Not Hayden-players, not c.net readers, not potential pop-stars who dream of world domination and hordes of groupies.) Maybe the presentation is aimed at potential _investors_? (They are the ones who would want to hear superlative claims and confidence.)

This is too intriguing - I can't help adding my comments...

 

I have only a vague idea about the Hayden Duet-system - what triggers me here is the presentation and the website.

 

The following is going to sound very harsh, but it is to be taken as well-meant, positive feedback!

 

I work at the Global Marketing department of a very large, medical technology company. For more years that I care to think of, I have been involved in the proces of explaining technical complex stuff - quite often to people with no technical backgrounds but with very different "viewing angles" (read: nurses and corporate types, CTS for short). So I am fairly used to looking at The Message with a critical eye.

 

The first group is wonderfully down-to-earth practical: "What is it? Oh, OK - is it easy to use? Good - show me!"

The second group wants to know just enough to understand the business implications "I don't really care how it works, but can we sell it, what will be the development costs and time, and how much can we sell?". So - enough of me.

 

End users

Obviously, there is something to the Thummer, according to the "Rewievs", but if it is as revolutionary as it claims, it's got to be sold to the end users - convincingly, not by promising instant Jimi Hendrix fame. Speaking for myself, but the theory behind the thing is way above my head - in the same way that I feel that if I need to know advanced music theory to be touched by a piece of music, forget it.

 

Investors - CTs

If "Business" is aiming at convincing investors that the music product industry is a large market, it is doing a good job - I recognize the (size of) the figures from when I was involved in finding funds for innovative pro-audio products in Denmark. But there is simply too much of it - it's overload. It feels as if 95% the text is concerned with proving that the market is there.

 

CTs want much shorter, more clear: "What will it take in development, costs and time? What tools do we need?"

 

(CTs love the word "tools", so be careful here. If you answer: "You need Tool X", they will say: "Ah - good", thinking "We'll buy that first thing, and we are almost done".)

 

And they expect answers to: "How much can we sell the first year - we need that figure for our budget. And is there a market in South-East Asia for it?"

 

Cheap trick

Provided a computer presentation is necessary, a cheap, but very good trick is to avoid PowerPoint. CT are brought up thinking that PPT is the center of the Earth when it comes to computer graphics, so anything that goes beyond that will immediately attract attention. Believe me, I know what I talking about.

 

Maybe all the answers are in the text, but it doesn't shine through. And the hype level is enormous, even for corporates :D :

 

"The Next Big Thing in hair: Already after the first trial with SuperThummHair you will see and feel a difference.

Never before has hairwashing been so easy, so good - and so cheap!

Hear what some of our greatest actors write about SuperThummhair: ..."

 

But it generates an annoying couriosity: "Yeah, yeah, all right - but couldn't we at least get a glimse of the darned thing?!"

 

End

Finally, a couple of very personal comments ("Chairman's letter"):

 

"...the profit-making power of having a monopoly" - OK - provided the monopoly really is based

on "the lowest cost, the easiest to learn & use, and the most flexible"

 

"...customer lock-in" - has an unpleasant ring to it. I can't help comparing with Windows: Does its

world dominance stems from "the lowest cost, the easiest to learn & use, and the most flexible?"

 

If The Thummer has so much going for it, then the best investment right now is to hire an advertising agency to do the copy writing, the photos and the web site. Microsoft Frontpage doesn't guarantee the communication impact of content, like owning paper and pen doesn't ensure Da Vincy drawings at first try.

 

In spite of the harshness, I do wish it the best of luck!

 

/Henrik

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have only a vague idea about the Hayden Duet-system...
The system is described nicely in the PowerPoint presentation, all but how it applies to the concertina. Here is the layout of my 46 key instrument. Notes on squeeze and draw are the same (like English Concertina). Air vent button on the right (not shown here).
|        LEFT HAND            ||        RIGHT HAND
|                             ||
|                             ||  Bb  C   D
|   F   G   A   B             ||    F   G   A   B   C#
| Bb (C)  D   E   F#  G#      ||  Bb  C   D   E   F#  G#
|   F   G   A   B   C#  D#    ||    F   G   A   B   C#  D#
|     C   D   E   F#  G#      ||     (C)  D   E   F#  G#
|                             ||
|(5th Finger)       (Thumb)   ||  (Thumb)       (5th Finger)
| =====WRIST STRAP========    ||   =====WRIST STRAP========
|
|(C) = middle C (both hands).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did manage to get the 161 page document to download after a good wait on the internet access I use at my local library. I then just had time to skim through it in the remainding 45 mins of the hour allowed, looking at each page for only a few seconds. As I totally understand the system I knew exactly what I was looking at; however I doubt if anybody else would have bothered. If it had been presented as a series of moving slides with sound this might have made sense; but as purely imformation, I would like to say that I wrote effectively the same thing in an article in "English Dance & Song" around 25 years ago - in only 2 pages !

 

Inventor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...