Have you ever really thought about how the sound of a drum is produced? Why can one person play a drum and have it sound a certain way, and another play the exact same drum and it sound totally different? There are many factors involved in this: where the drum was hit, if we played into or off of the drum, how loose or tight we are holding the stick, or the type of stick and tip. This goes on and on, but I have found that a lot of drummers aren’t even aware of, or couldn’t be bothered to understand, what happens when they play a drum. Once we strike a drum, we move air and cause sound waves to vibrate. These sound waves travel back and forth between the shell and the batter, which resonates heads on the drum. Depending how these heads are tuned, the pitch or note that is produced can differentiate. This is our tone. But how does one get the most musical tone from their drums? Is it technique? Is it the type of drum we are playing? Is it luck?
A certain amount of technique definitely helps us pull a musical tone out of the drum. The type of drum (shell material, etc.) affects this as well. My thoughts are that we should sound like ourselves on any drum. It should all be in our hands. I have heard drummers that don’t have great tone all of the time; there might be a little luck involved here. Maybe they were more relaxed on a certain gig. Maybe their setup is more comfortable one way than another. However, there should be no luck involved in this, and consistency is the key. I feel that we need to take this subject very seriously, for the reasons that Billy Ward mentioned above. I am going to discuss my approach to developing a good tone on the drums, but this is a very personal subject. You can find many ways to make your drums sing, and it is up to you to put the time and effort into it.
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