Street musicians or solo performers who want to add a virtual backing band but don't relish the prospect of sacrificing the feel of the music to overly digitized loopers or sequencers may be interested in the Kicktronic system from Flotechnic. If you stomp your foot rhythmically while playing, then you might as well put it to more efficient use by tapping the system's foot sensor to bring in a bass drum, snare drum, crash cymbal and bass.

Kicktronic is aimed at solo musicians who don't want the digital accompaniment to sound, well, digital. It would also be useful if, like me, you occasionally use odd timings or let the mood grab you and wander off into previously uncharted territory. The system consists of a foot sensor and some parameter-tweaking PC software. All of the electronic sounds have been created using analog modeling technology for a more authentic feel.

The main part of the system is the bass drum, the rhythm of which is controlled by tapping your foot on the sensor. The actual drum sound is said to have just as much character and variation as an acoustic instrument, which can be personalized and refined using the included PC software. There's a snare drum too if you want one, which can run in auto mode (again determined by the kick drum action at the sensor) or, with the addition of a second foot sensor, can be set to manual mode. The snare pitch and other parameters can also be adjusted in the software.

Give either the kick or snare sensor a bit more of a wallop and you can bring in one of two crash cymbal sounds. Completing the rhythm section is a virtual bass player whose rhythm is determined by the frantic foot tapping on the sensor box and the pitch of the note automatically tied in with the instrument you're playing. The system also offers a user-controlled octave setting.

The Kicktronic electronic bass drum and virtual backing band system can also add a few effects to your main instrument, such as gain, chorus/flanger and reverb. It's priced at EUR39.99 (US$53) for the software and one foot sensor and EUR69.99 (US$93) for the software plus a couple of sensors, and is available with free international shipping.