In the previous blog, we talked about two of the best drummers out there, Joey Jordison and Chad Smith, their signature snare drums and what sets them apart. With this article, we plan to take the topic of maintaining and playing a drum kit ensemble a little further.
To get everything right, precise and in a qualified sense, relevant for an in-betweener, we got in touch with a professional drummer, Mihir Bhende. Mihir plays for a Mumbai-based atmospheric black metal band ‘Cosmic Infusion’ and is a seasoned performer on the Indian metal circuit. We asked him to give his inputs on the matter of practicing and tuning of the drums and he graciously took time out of his schedule to provide us with a thorough advice. Here is what Mihir says.
On tuning – Get the sound you look for
1) Tuning is the most important part of any instrument. A drum kit can have hundreds of sounds if it is tuned in different permutations and combinations. Know your feel;and get the unique sound you are looking for.
2) Start with quarter turns of the drum key. Tune by diagonal tuning rods of the drumhead. Don’t worry if the drum skin is stretched. Whenever detuning, always re-tighten it slightly at the end. This enables the rod to ‘bite’ and hold while keeping the other things in check.
3) The drum skin on which we play is the resonant head while the bottom skin is the batter head. A drum will sound better if the batter head is tuned lower (slacker) than the resonant head. Also, you can use moon gel (a sticky gel which you can stick on top side of the snare head) to get a precise snare drum sound.
4) Play with the stick softly on the edges of drum and check if all the areas near the rim sound same. This will ensure than the drum head is stretched equally on all the ends and will deliver a solid sound when hit in the middle.
5) While tuning a kick drum, you can use pillow for dampening. Nowadays, many drummers (including me) use triggers for kick drums in which you can use feel of the kickdrum while the sound will be taken out from the triggered module. When using triggers, make sure than the kick drum is evenly tuned. Uneven tuning will result in double-triggering.
These are only some of the salient points to keep in mind. As you gather more skills, you will come to know of more such fine details. For now, this should be sufficient for someone with a hang of basic drumming.
1) Always practice with a metronome.
2) Settle your drum throne at or a little above your knee joint. You will realize it lends more power and precision to your hits. If it is too low, there won’t be any balance and you may even end up hurting your back.
3) Target a BMP (Beats per minute) speed in metronome every week and stick to it even when you are playing it comfortably. Develop your endurance starting from 30 seconds to as long as 3 minutes. This will help you achieve beat clarity and rhythmic evenness and a lot of endurance to play for long periods.
4) There are different ways to hold the drum sticks. Some prefer match grip, while some others go for French grip or event traditional grip. Choose the one you are most comfortable with and try not changing it.
Now that you have the word of an expert, the next time you sit down to drum, bear in mind these little details and play in style.
Cosmic Infusion is a symphonic black metal band from Mumbai, initially formed in 21 January 2003, again reformed in 2012. The band is formed to create a pure blend of symphony and extreme metal.With some of the best and most experienced musicians from the underground scene in the country, they play their very own style of extreme metal.
Cosmic Infusion was nominated in all the categories at Rolling Stone Metal Awards this year. The band also won Best Indian Band award in Radio city Freedom music awards recently.