TumTá is a wearable instrument that triggers sound samples from foot-stomps. It has the form of two insoles connected by wires to a transmitter that wirelessly sends the information of the stomps to a computer to trigger sound samples. It was developed for Helder Vasconcelos’ third solo, which was searching for ways to create new sounds from dance of the popular grassroots tradition of “Cavalo Marinho”. It has very rhythmical structures even  though it isn’t intended to be heard like the tap-dance traditions. To put any sampled sound in a musical dance opened new possibilities of expression.

The technical challenge to devise such an instrument was a lot harder than it seemed. The violent foot-stomps this dancer launched their feet to the ground broke all my first out-of-the-shelf sensors on the first tests. I had to develop a new sensor in a DIY manner, with a resistive foam insole sewed with conductive wire for it to resist. The low latency necessity to such a rapid and rhythmic musical style demanded a fast wireless flaw-proof communication, which took many difficulties in the hardware design. After one year of research we got to a sensor that was also part of the artistic work. The roughness of TumTá was in tune with the characteristics of the dance and music it made. The instrument was in itself an artistic object, part of his composition.

TumTá sensor made of conductive foam insole with hand-sewed conductive thread

We toured with the process demonstration “Foco” from an important dance prize (Rumos Itaú Cultural) he had earned and I accompanied him on stage. After the launch of this solo in July 2016, we conducted a research project to evaluate the use of TumTá by other artists (https://tumta.wordpress.com/).

This instrument is to be used in conjunction with the Pisada, which is a dance-suitable MIDI pedal board that allows the selection of different samples paires to be triggered by the feet without leaving the dance state.



He is the first virtuoso of this instrument, having used this instrument in several artistic presentations in São Paulo (SP), Recife (PE), São Luis (MA), Rio de Janeiro (RJ) and Ouro Preto (MG). his third solo “Eu Sou”, in participations in music concerts and other formats.

Here is the Video of a Cavalo Marinho “sambada”, to illustrate his references: