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Percussion is an area of special interest for me. Anyone have any questions or topics to discuss?



Ang1970 Thu, 10/12/2000 - 22:52

I have a question that burns my stomach lining whenever I think about it.

Why is it that many drummers find the term "drum tuning" completely foriegn? Is there some conspiracy that actively prevents these guys from learning this? Or do they all miss the first day of drum school, thereby omitting the first lesson from their education?

And how do you deal with it when it walks into your studio?

Angelo Quaglia
AQ Productions

SonOfSmawg Fri, 10/13/2000 - 20:58

I think the key words in your reply were
"drum school" and "lessons"...
I know we've all worked with at least 100
different drummers in our lives and careers,
and think back... How many could you really
call 'educated'? I've only worked with a handful that I could truly call 'musicians'.
In my experience, drummers in general are usually treated as 'whores'. If you lose a drummer, you can have a new one ready to play by next weekend's
With the kind of lower-level experience that I have in recording, I've had to deal
with mostly mediochre drummers, with poor
skills and over-inflated egos, but I use it to my advantage! If you feed their ego, let them know how important their role is in the recording process, and get them to trust you
in 'helping them' adjust their tuning and sound to best suit the song, they become more than cooperative. But, in my humble experience, expecting them to have any real knowledge of sound, recording, or electronics
is just going to be an un-ending frustration.
So, I've basically surrendered to the fact that, in 90% of the cases, I'm going to have to deal with it. It's just a 'given'.
This whole thing, again, goes back to the
'humanity' discussion that we had before,
doesn't it?
I think if you read my post here in 'percussion', and relate it to this topic,
you'll see why I'm headed in the direction that I am when it comes to 'drums'...
suit the song, they a

Greg Malcangi Mon, 10/16/2000 - 09:45

There are some very good, highly musical drummers out there. Unfortunately, they are really in the minority. IMHO, most drummers are not taught to play drums as a musical art form. They are taught, and/or learn, that drumming is instead a sport. Again unfortunately, the drummers themselves don't realize this.

For most high quality musicians it is about personal expression through interpretation of the score. But for many drummers, even the majority of the famous ones it is first and formost about technique and in particular speed and power.

There are some who are trying to change this trend but it's going to take a long time to filter through to the average session player.

My 2 cents worth,


Greg Malcangi Mon, 10/16/2000 - 09:50

Re drum tuning:

In the percussion world the drum kit is categorized under the "untuned percussion" category. This leads many of the average drummers to infer that they therefore don't need to tune thier drums. However, this isn't true of the top class drummers, many of whom are almost fanatical about the tuning. The extreme is Terry Bozzio. Terry tunes his enormous setup to a standard muscial scale and even has a couple of octaves of cymbals specially made. The end effect is that Terry can virtually play melodies and harmony on his kit.


SonOfSmawg Tue, 10/17/2000 - 14:36

I never knew that about Terry Bozzio, very
interesting. For those who wish to go to that extreme, electronic drums could make that type of precision a breeze, if a drummer with that sort of knowledge and
expertise were willing to give up the acoustic feel for the technical aspect.
With the type of 'small time' recording that
I do, I find that dealing with acoustic drum
kit recording, and 'small time' drummers is
a major problem. I feel that a good electronic kit would solve a lot of issues
for my clients and myself, and in most cases would yield a better overall sound and tremendously decrease studio time, therefore
saving my clients money, and saving me headaches. Not to say that I still wouldn't
use acoustic drums if the client wants that,
but I believe that having a great electronic kit available will be a great selling point for my type of very small studio.
I don't have any drum kit at this point, and
require drummers to bring in their own kit.
Each kit is way different, and requires a lot of micing and tweaking. It's quite time-
consuming. Since I also use my system for my own personal recording, I definately feel
that with my limited budget, an electronic kit will best suit my needs, and give me the
most 'bang' for the buck (pun intended).

Greg Malcangi Tue, 10/17/2000 - 15:15

Hi SonOfSmawg,

Having spent many hours in conversation with Terry I seriously doubt that he could be persuaded to use an electronic kit. I think in your situation though an electronic kit is almost certainly the way to go.

FYI: Even with a single drum in a real kit there is a substantial range of tone colours that can be acheived by using different strokes, different sticks, striking the head in different places and any combination of the above. Electronic kits can't give you this range of tone colours. These variations in tone colours are a large part of the armoury of musical tools used by a musical drummer like Terry to create the illusion of musical expression.


SonOfSmawg Tue, 10/17/2000 - 18:01

Yeah, I realize the whole 'tonal expression' thing you're talking about. But,
with my lackluster drumming, and the size of my studio, indeed electronic drums will best
suit my needs. When I play an electronic kit, it actually sounds better, because it sort-of evens out the sound. My control and skills are not within a mile of Terry
Bozzio's, to say the least! The same applies to most of my small-time clients. If a client really wants to use acoustic drums, they will still be able to bring their own kit, which I believe most drummers would prefer to do anyway.

Greg Malcangi Wed, 10/18/2000 - 14:04

<< When I play an electronic kit, it actually sounds better, because it sort-of evens out the sound. >>

This is the great advantage of electronic kits. The mic'ing, EQ'ing, compression and other processing of the sound has already been done for you. The disadvantage is that they sound sterile. In some forms of music (eg. techno & dance) this is what's required but if you want a "real kit" type of sound you will have to do a great deal of work to reach even a barely acceptable sound.


SonOfSmawg Wed, 10/18/2000 - 17:32

Yeah, I am well aware of the drawbacks of
electronic drums. By the way, I am very grateful for all of your help, thank you.
I, personally, am not a big fan of traditional timekeeping and 'fill'. I'm sure
that the first instrument was some sort of a
drum, so being the nonconformist that I am,
I am interested in exploring other possibilities in my own compositions. Are
you familiar with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones? I love what Futureman does. He
keeps the time, and fills things out in such a unique way. Did you ever hear of a song called 'Jane's getting serious' by John Astley? Again, very unique. So, electronic
drums are going to help me pursue my ideas.
There are many reasons for my choice to go
with electronic drums, but it's very important to me that I find the right components to fulfill my needs. So, anyway,
I'm going to go 'surf' for that 'drumkat',
so until next time...happy trails...

Greg Malcangi Thu, 10/19/2000 - 04:46

<< Are you familiar with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones? >>

No, Sorry.

<< Did you ever hear of a song called 'Jane's getting serious' by John Astley? >>

It rings a bell but I can't specifically remember it.

BTW: The TrapKAT with a KickKAT is the business but if you are on more of a budget the DrumKAT is still a good piece of kit. The KAT range is distributed by Alternate Mode:


SonOfSmawg Thu, 10/19/2000 - 21:56

Went into the Kat site, but definately not what I'm looking for. I've been cruising a lot of different sites, giving things a lot of thought, and now have a pretty good idea of the direction I want to go. There's
a lot more out there in this area than I realized! Some pretty kewl stuff!
And now, I hope I won't open up another
can of worms with you, but I'll make a
suggestion ...
I'd like you to check out those songs/artists that I was telling you about.
Napster has both artists. 'Jane's getting serious' is by Jon Astley, and a cool Bela
Fleck song is 'The Sinister Minister'.
If you're not 'anti-Napster', I hope you will
consider listening to these songs, they may
be very enlightening to you...

SonOfSmawg Sat, 10/28/2000 - 20:28

Well, thanks guys !!! You come in the room,
douse it with petrol, then hit it with a flamethrower! I WAS actually having a good conversation up until then...
That's OK, I'm doing my own research, and having fun. There's a lot of electronic percussion products out there. I'm getting a good education, and learning that you definately don't have to spend a fortune to
have an awesome system. I'll keep you all
posted on some of my findings.
By the way, audiokid and Ang...
Was it my reference to Napster that made you
want to set me aflame?