The Thummer

For a person that is looking to stay on the cutting edge of musical instruments, one of the more inventive models is the Thummer keyboard. This instrument uses a combination of an isomorphic keyboard and a control that is based on thumb movements. The Thummer project is based on an engineering perspective of musical instruments, with the focus being on an easy learning curve and intuitive controls. With these two concepts, the inventors of the Thummer hoped to create a new instrument that allows a person more expressive range than with other traditional instruments.

The history of the Thummer goes back to 2003 when Jim Plamondon started the Thumtronics company to produce the instruments and offer them to the public. Plamondon took an engineering approach by outlining the various goals for the instrument and designing features that would help these goals be realized. The seven goals that were stated were known as the Es: Easy, Expressive, Ergonomic, Expansive, Everywhere, Everyone, and more Ergonomic. The plan was to use the Thummer name to indicate the type of instrument, with different models bearing different names. The most popular of these models is known as the Jammer.

The physical setup of the instrument was made in a way that made it light to carry and more intuitive than other instruments. Instead of using normal keys or frets like a piano or guitar, the Thummer uses an isomorphic keyboard. This means that it is laid out in the same manner as a computer keyboard, allowing the player's fingers to give a wide range of sounds with only limited physical movement. The main other part of the instrument uses a thumb control that is not unlike the joysticks that are usually part of a video game controller. In addition, this design also makes it easier for a new Thummer player to pick up the instrument and start playing, as it is learned in the same way that a person learns to type.

As an electronic instrument, the Thummer also had increased interaction with computers. There are many software programs designed to help a person learn how to play the Thummer and others that can transform a normal computer keyboard into an instrument similar to a Thummer. This makes practicing quite easy as a person could theoretically practice anywhere that they have access to a standard keyboard. However, the actual instrument provided a number of advantages over a traditional musical keyboard. The fingering settings are made for only one place, in contrast with the 24 that are used with a musical keyboard. In addition, the closeness of the keys means that a person can play very rapidly on a virtuoso pace with many notes being within easy reach of the fingers.

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