The One-Armed, Three-Handed Drummer

by Jonah Shepp

Drummer Jason Barnes, who lost his right arm two years ago, gets an assist from a robotic prosthesis:

[T]hings got more interesting when [founding director of the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology Gil] Weinberg added a second drum stick into the mix. Now Barnes can play with one stick in his human hand, with a second stick following along to the rhythm, while a third can fill in with computer-improvisation that’s computed based on the rhythm of the other two sticks. In essence, Weinberg helped turn Barnes into a three-handed drummer.

“I think [the potential] is limitless,” Weinberg told me. “I’m very excited about actually helping someone with a disability to become actually better than his teacher.”