Mallet percussionists have new flexibility to practice, perform, and compose anywhere with the new malletSTATION Adjustable Range Electronic Mallet Controller model EM1, released by Pearl in partnership with Keith McMillen Instruments. The USB-powered MIDI mallet keyboard controller can be run off a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet, making it a more lightweight option for marching ensembles. Users can program in their choice of software to create sounds and select octave ranges on the controller.
“You can mount it onto a field frame and plug it into your iPad and start playing,” says Matt Jordan, professional percussionist and concert percussion marketing manager at Pearl. “It’s been designed from the ground up to work with the marching activity.”
Jordan says the biggest benefit of the malletSTATION is its affordability. “You can take it outside instead of a set of chimes for maybe half the price of the chimes,” he says.
The malletSTATION has been in development for three years and will debut in April 2018. Music City Mystique, Spirit of Atlanta, and Phantom Regiment already plan to use the malletSTATION in their shows for the coming season, Jordan says.
With a master control section, users can adjust parameters and shift octaves to recreate the sounds of acoustic keyboard percussion instruments. The “keys” of the malletSTATION also have the sensitivity of electronic drum pads to respond to different mallet heads for volume and timbre.
“It’s a controller; there’s no built-in sound,” Jordan says. “It’s designed to be an interface for your software. You control every parameter and aspect of your software to get whatever sound you want.”
Jordan hopes the malletSTATION will bring about a new era in marching music, similar to the influx of electronic keyboards and synthesizers, in front ensembles and indoor percussion ensembles.
“We’re excited to see what people do with it, especially younger students,” he says, “We see change in what beginning students are able to accomplish.”