Drums & Drumming
- Several different woods produce different ‘‘wooden tones’’. Maple
is a very hard wood and produces a sharp attack. It has been called
the wood that can sing. Birch is a slightly softer wood and will soak
up and give a less-sustaining, mellower sound to the attack. One of
the first sets of drums that I started on were made out of a Philippine
mahogany. Lower-line drums are generally made out of this kind of
wood. This kind of wood is very inexpensive, which is how drums are
made to be more affordable to the general public. This wood is also
very soft, which gives a very muffled attack and a short sustain.
- Drum shells are a very important aspect of a drum. Edges, hardware,
and head combinations are all secondary to the drum shell. Wood resonates
at a certain frequency. A shell made of the same wood will work with
itself to create a pleasing tone. Many factors determine the tuning
range and the original note or timbre of a shell. The overall thickness
affects the tonal quality. The thicker the shell, the higher the note.
The thinner the shell, the lower the note. The longer the a shell
is, the higher the note will be.
- Stand next to a stack of drum shells. Turn the top shell sideways.
Place your left index finger inside the shell to support it, and tap
the outside with your right thumb. You will discover a tone. Discovering
tone is called ‘‘timbre-pitching’’. You can’t treat all drums equally
when you are tuning them. In my opinion there are such things as jazz,
rock, and fusion tunings. Anytime you sacrifice the sound of a drum
for a style of drumming, you have made a big mistake.