An innovative rhythmic and melodic percussion instrument has launched on Kickstarter which kind of puts a full drum kit on your chest. The KeyTam features a main drum where the head tension can be adjusted in real time using a lever on a wooden handle, and a number of mini cymbals for tambourine-like accompaniment.

The brainchild of France's Guillaume Toutain, and born of frustration at the limits of current instruments, the KeyTam has a main body diameter of 40 cm (15.7 in), and is 70 cm (27.5 in) long, including the handle. That handle has a lever that's pulled in or let out to change the pitch of the main drum, starting at 30 Hz and moving up through one and a half octaves.

There's a switch for engaging or disengaging the snare, and percussionists can even create a kind of wah wah sound by repeatedly flexing the lever. Mini cymbals to the rear can be left to jingle or locked down, and magnets can be moved around the drum head to tweak the tone even further.

The KeyTam is made using wood from a common tree species so as not to adversely impact on the environment, and the pre-production prototype makes use of 3D-printed PLA components, though injection molding will eventually be used when production is ramped up.

The instrument is worn like a guitar, and can be played using one or two hands, or with sticks. It's been designed to go wherever the player goes, and comes with a custom cover.

Adventurous musicians can just dive straight in and see what sounds they can produce, or two learning modules will be made available to ease players into the KeyTam universe – an introduction and a more indepth playing package. The learning package will include a total of 60 to 80 demonstration videos and exercises for students.

The KeyTam has launched on Kickstarter to move from functional prototype to limited production run. Pledges start at €750 (about US$850) for the first 15 backers, rising to €950 once they've gone. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in December.

The instrument will be on show at Frankfurt's Musikmesse expo next week, and the video below has more.

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