Sound Quality

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tchristoffersen Offline
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Sound Quality

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:32 am



Hey guys,

Long story...but I'll try to give you the quick version. The high school that I teach at is re-structuring their grade levels/facilities in a way that the high school will now only be grades 10, 11, and 12. Because of that, I will not be getting any incoming freshmen to fill spots in the battery. We lost 3 seniors last year, and 1 of our going-to-be-juniors decided to quit after not getting spot on the snare line this year(don't even get me started). So we are going from a battery of 13(5s-3t-5b) last year to a battery of 9(3s-2t-4b) this year.

The one nice thing about not having any freshman, is that all of these kids have already marched a year in the battery. So they all know what to expect and have at least a basic understanding of what goes in to a successful season. We actually have some pretty talented players, so I'm excited about our potential. The one thing I worry about is getting enough volume from so few players to not get completely covered up by the winds(we have a total band size around 150 including guard & percussion).

I always stress the importance of playing through the head and developing a good sound quality at all dynamic levels, but this year it will be even more important. So my question for you guys is: What exercises or advice/recommendations do you have for me that you have used in your own programs to work on building sound quality?


ohmycheese Offline
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Re:

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:44 pm



when playing eights, accent tap, grids, and roll exercises have them press buzz to build chops and get them into the "dig into the head" type of playing. (for rolls, only buzz the diddles).

also, the type of sticks and tuning you use would affect their volume.
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schorsquatch Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 12:48 pm



Wow! 150 kids in band, but only 9 on battery? I would expect at least twice that many for a band that size. Do you have a front ensemble?

Hmmm.... what would I do if I were in the position *chin scratching*... well we know the basses will carry through, and the tenors will probably do so as well, especially if they're clean. Maybe move one of those basses over to snare or tenors?

Also thinking about drill... any chance to get them up front? That will destroy the timing, so you might be trading in a quiet drumline with a solid band for a loud(er) drumline with shaky band.

The last thing that spring to mind is to lower the pitches on the snares and tenors... don't crank those to astronomical levels. The lower pitches will carry through better. You will lose a little bit of articulation, so that's a choice about what you want to accomplish with your book. My guys want to make the dogs bark, so beware of attitudes too. Speaking of book... is it all pre-arranged or do you write your own? Some smart writing will help your guys be heard.

Back to basics too... clean is loud... but you already know that I'm sure!
Without a metronome its not drumming, its just hacking.


tchristoffersen Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:43 pm



Thanks for the advice guys! Keep it coming. I will definitely have to try out the press roll variations on our exercises.

We have 11 in the front ensemble this year, and unfortunately they are all needed to cover the parts in the percussion score. Some are even playing 2 or sometimes 3 parts in order to get all the effect stuff covered as well. The front ensemble parts were included with the wind parts, so we are just going to do a little bit of arranging on that instead of writing all new notes. I wrote the battery book from scratch so I was able to keep the gridded buzz-diddle Chutra-Cheeses to a minimum ;). I definitely tried to help out by writing lots of open eighth and quarter note based unison rhythms when the winds are loud. Of course I couldn't do that for the entire book, or else my kids would get too bored and hate life when we are running the show for the 1500th time in October.

As far as the drill, we have a drill writer who handles all of that, but I know he was surprised when we told him only 9 in the battery. Hopefully that means he took note and will help us out in that area.


joe356 Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:46 pm



I've definitely seen lines that size cut through an even bigger hornline. You just have to be stubborn about the sound all of the time. Sure, tuning can help, along with head choice, implementation etc. But the bottom line is, those heads, sticks, drums etc won't vibrate if the kids aren't hitting them well.

I will say that one of the biggest mistakes I see from a lot of groups is that they confuse sound quality with volume. If the hands aren't relaxed, then the stick can't vibrate, and you'll lose projection. You're not after volume, you're after projection. You want to lose less sound from far away. The beginning of that is making sure that the hands are relaxed, and the sticks are moving quickly.

The other thing that is commonly overlooked is tuning. Not pitch range or interval selection (although that matters), but actual tuning. If the heads aren't clear, you will lose a lot of projection.


schorsquatch Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 11:47 am



joe356 wrote:I've definitely seen lines that size cut through an even bigger hornline. You just have to be stubborn about the sound all of the time. Sure, tuning can help, along with head choice, implementation etc. But the bottom line is, those heads, sticks, drums etc won't vibrate if the kids aren't hitting them well.

I will say that one of the biggest mistakes I see from a lot of groups is that they confuse sound quality with volume. If the hands aren't relaxed, then the stick can't vibrate, and you'll lose projection. You're not after volume, you're after projection. You want to lose less sound from far away. The beginning of that is making sure that the hands are relaxed, and the sticks are moving quickly.

The other thing that is commonly overlooked is tuning. Not pitch range or interval selection (although that matters), but actual tuning. If the heads aren't clear, you will lose a lot of projection.
Yes... totally this!

Also... scoops?
Without a metronome its not drumming, its just hacking.


Spirit Snare 80 Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2015 3:17 pm



15 inch Slingerlands with silver dots! Oops. Sorry! Wrong decade. Carry on. :o
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Silver Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 2:44 pm



joe356 wrote: I will say that one of the biggest mistakes I see from a lot of groups is that they confuse sound quality with volume. If the hands aren't relaxed, then the stick can't vibrate, and you'll lose projection. You're not after volume, you're after projection. You want to lose less sound from far away. The beginning of that is making sure that the hands are relaxed, and the sticks are moving quickly.

Can you go into more detail about sticks vibrating and how that affects projection?


joe356 Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2015 2:54 pm



Silver wrote:
joe356 wrote: I will say that one of the biggest mistakes I see from a lot of groups is that they confuse sound quality with volume. If the hands aren't relaxed, then the stick can't vibrate, and you'll lose projection. You're not after volume, you're after projection. You want to lose less sound from far away. The beginning of that is making sure that the hands are relaxed, and the sticks are moving quickly.

Can you go into more detail about sticks vibrating and how that affects projection?

Sure. Grab a pair of sticks. Hold them tightly and click them together. Notice the type of sound they make. Now, relax the hand to hold the sticks softly while still having control of them. Click them together again. Notice the drastic change in sound: tone length, volume, timber etc. The same principles affect the drum and its projection as well. A tightly gripped stick will have an adverse affect on the projection and sound quality of the drum itself. A great example of a group that understood and applied this concept is the early 2000's vanguard drumlines (particularly 03 and 04).

Obviously, you have to have contact with the stick and a certain amount of firmness in order to control what the stick is doing. But the more you can keep that contact from turning into pressure, the better the stick, and thus the head will vibrate. More vibration equals more projection. That's an oversimplification in terms of the actual physics of it, but you get the idea.


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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 12:15 pm



Joe, that is just not true. The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head. At that point, it is meaningless.

Now, I probably agree with most of your ideas on playing in that the stick will vibrate in your hand as a result of a specific technique. But the stick vibrating will not make the drum head vibrate more.


joe356 Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 4:42 pm



Silver wrote:Joe, that is just not true. The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head. At that point, it is meaningless.

Now, I probably agree with most of your ideas on playing in that the stick will vibrate in your hand as a result of a specific technique. But the stick vibrating will not make the drum head vibrate more.

Whatever you say man. I guess everyone that teaches drums at a high level and has for decades is wrong.


KBAKER90210 Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 7:02 pm



Silver wrote: The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head
Silver, all respect given, but that's completely false. The vibration of the stick does effect the drum head. That's why pairs of the same stick produce a different pitch from a drum, or why dead or broken sticks sound way different and are noticeable. If you want to get all science-y with it, energy transferred to the head when hitting it with a stick will travel back up and down the stick before contact is ever lost with the head, so how tightly you grip the sticks will change how much energy is lost in the stick through lack of vibration, and in effect the amount of energy put into the head. The more vibration is allowed, the more energy is sent into the head, rather than being dampened or absorbed by the stick or arm.


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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:19 pm



KBAKER90210 wrote:
Silver wrote: The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head
Silver, all respect given, but that's completely false. The vibration of the stick does effect the drum head. That's why pairs of the same stick produce a different pitch from a drum, or why dead or broken sticks sound way different and are noticeable. If you want to get all science-y with it, energy transferred to the head when hitting it with a stick will travel back up and down the stick before contact is ever lost with the head, so how tightly you grip the sticks will change how much energy is lost in the stick through lack of vibration, and in effect the amount of energy put into the head. The more vibration is allowed, the more energy is sent into the head, rather than being dampened or absorbed by the stick or arm.
Yes. So if you're choking the stick, it's going to sound different because you're affecting how the stick responds to the head. It's really apparent if you play on a drum or even on a pad how the vibration of the stick affects the sound quality.
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Spirit Snare 80 Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:07 am



Not to mention this consideration over the long haul as stated my Thomas Lang:

UNIVERSAL TRUTHS
To start, there are a couple of principles that are fundamental to virtually every known grip and hand technique. First and foremost, it is strongly advised that you learn to hold the stick loosely while you’re playing. Not so loose that your bandmates need to wear eye protection around you, but loose enough to allow the technique to work its magic. The proverbial “death grip” is really only useful for killing things: namely feel and groove, not to mention the tendons and nerves in your hands and arms. These are things that, as drummers, we really cannot afford to sacrifice.
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Silver Offline
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:49 pm



joe356 wrote:
Silver wrote:Joe, that is just not true. The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head. At that point, it is meaningless.

Now, I probably agree with most of your ideas on playing in that the stick will vibrate in your hand as a result of a specific technique. But the stick vibrating will not make the drum head vibrate more.

Whatever you say man. I guess everyone that teaches drums at a high level and has for decades is wrong.

Yeah that is not a response. That seems to be the status quo around here. When presented with actual facts, and not rhetoric, the reply is just sarcasm. You know I'm right, Joe.


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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:53 pm



VoteLobster wrote:
KBAKER90210 wrote:
Silver wrote: The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head
Silver, all respect given, but that's completely false. The vibration of the stick does effect the drum head. That's why pairs of the same stick produce a different pitch from a drum, or why dead or broken sticks sound way different and are noticeable. If you want to get all science-y with it, energy transferred to the head when hitting it with a stick will travel back up and down the stick before contact is ever lost with the head, so how tightly you grip the sticks will change how much energy is lost in the stick through lack of vibration, and in effect the amount of energy put into the head. The more vibration is allowed, the more energy is sent into the head, rather than being dampened or absorbed by the stick or arm.
Yes. So if you're choking the stick, it's going to sound different because you're affecting how the stick responds to the head. It's really apparent if you play on a drum or even on a pad how the vibration of the stick affects the sound quality.

I agree the sound CAN be different. But we are talking about projection and volume, not timbre. Can you get MORE projection if you keep the hand really loose in your hand as opposed to grabbing tighter (not even as tight as possible)? These are just things that people say but really don't understand. They've heard it from someone else and try to explain it but can't.

"Hey kids, I need more projection here, so make sure your sticks are vibrating." What a terrible explanation.


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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:54 pm



Spirit Snare 80 wrote:Not to mention this consideration over the long haul as stated my Thomas Lang:

UNIVERSAL TRUTHS
To start, there are a couple of principles that are fundamental to virtually every known grip and hand technique. First and foremost, it is strongly advised that you learn to hold the stick loosely while you’re playing. Not so loose that your bandmates need to wear eye protection around you, but loose enough to allow the technique to work its magic. The proverbial “death grip” is really only useful for killing things: namely feel and groove, not to mention the tendons and nerves in your hands and arms. These are things that, as drummers, we really cannot afford to sacrifice.

Who's advocating for a death grip?


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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:48 pm



Silver wrote:
joe356 wrote:
Silver wrote:Joe, that is just not true. The drum does not care whether or not the stick vibrates after it has struck the head. At that point, it is meaningless.

Now, I probably agree with most of your ideas on playing in that the stick will vibrate in your hand as a result of a specific technique. But the stick vibrating will not make the drum head vibrate more.

Whatever you say man. I guess everyone that teaches drums at a high level and has for decades is wrong.

Yeah that is not a response. That seems to be the status quo around here. When presented with actual facts, and not rhetoric, the reply is just sarcasm. You know I'm right, Joe.

I haven't seen any facts presented that warrant a response. I see either: a kid who thinks he knows more than he actually does and shouldn't speak out of turn; or a troll who isn't worth my time. Either way I'm not going to convince you, so its not worth responding. I'll simply let decades of experience, and further decades of experience from my teachers continue to guide me as I make a living teaching and playing drums.


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Re:

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:21 am



Here's another example of someone advocating grip pressure as it relates to projection:

http://www.henryspipeband.org/man_productivity_2.html

Live Sticking

"Live Sticking" deals with how the stick is griped as far as pressures are concerned. The idea is for the stick to be loose and relaxed so as to allow the stick to resonate or vibrate within the grip of the player. It is always visually apparent when a player is gripping the stick too tightly however it can also be very apparent by the type of sound that is produced. A tight grip equals a tense and choked sound, lacking projection. Properly utilyzing live sticking will result in a fuller, smoother sound and will allow a more musical projection of the sound. A good illustration is to take the stick between the thumb and index finger and tap the stick on your head while allowing the stick to resonate. The feeling of the stick vibrating is an approximation of what should be experienced with the "Live Sticking" technique.
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:49 am



Learn to stick up for yourself, Joe.

Dennis, someone advocating that doesn't make it fact. That's the problem here. Everyone's trying to make this way more complicated than it really is.


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Re:

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:53 pm



Straight from the Blue Coats technique packet when Mike McIntosh taught the line.

The Bluecoats Marching Snare Guide
Tim Maynard & Chad Schaedler
IMPLEMENT GRIP
A great quality of sound and approach to the drum starts with the grip of the stick.
In order to produce a full, resonant tone from the drum, it is important that your hands
maintain a relaxed grip around the stick at all times and allow the stick to resonate in
your hand. If you hold the stick too tightly, you dampen the stick’s natural vibration and
“choke off” much of the sound which results in a very thin quality of sound. Also, the
brunt of the impact from the stick striking the drum will be transferred directly into your
hands which can lead to unnecessary injury. Always let the stick “breathe” in your hands.

If this is any indication of what is presently being taught in D.C.I. lines, I see no mention
of projection, but quality of sound. I guess the question at hand is how does quality of sound affect projection?

If this correlation can be linked, then we have at least a remote argument that grip pressure affects sound projection.


Interesting read. Glad this was brought up for debate. I work with kids all the time and this is what keeps me digging for more information. Keep it coming. We all learn from our varied backgrounds.
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 9:11 am



The stick absolutely affects projection. Low-pitched sticks definitely don't project as well as high-pitched sticks. Weight of the stick aside, the higher pitched sticks create a fuller sound that cuts through a hornline, and lower pitched sticks create that hollow, thin sound similar to a broken stick.


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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 11:25 am



This is a pretty intense discussion, and I don't want to act like I can solve all the world's problems with one post, but I think I can contribute a bit of perspective.

It seems to me (by digging into some of the concepts described here) that "projection" on its own is a complicated interaction between all the factors that affect overall sound quality, e.g., technique, tuning, head selection, stick selection PLUS writing, field position, etc etc etc. So it may be a blind alley to talk specifically how to improve "projection" on its own... projection seems to be one component of the overall musicality, which seems to be affected more or less by different factors.

In terms of stick grip, I would go as far to say that I think that the grip will affect the overall musicality, but in the sense that it allows better sound from the drum, and improves the opportunities for lines to play cleanly, and contributes to good technique (which also improves sound quality and allows players to perform their best). So being musical also means projecting well, and is a by-product of a lot of different factors. I don't think you can isolate a single factor for a single effect.

Overall, I think this turned into a technique conversation, which tries to relate technique to projection. In reality, what we are talking about how effective technique is required to produce quality music, and quality music, among other things, projects well.

And because I can't resist, the drum does care about the grip, because if the stick is allowed to rebound naturally from the drumhead, then the drumhead can vibrate freely. A tense grip smashes the bead of the drumstick into the head, which results in subtle but definite muffling of the natural vibration. Doubt it? Play on mylar.
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Re: Sound Quality

Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2015 12:21 pm



Silver wrote:Learn to stick up for yourself, Joe.

Dennis, someone advocating that doesn't make it fact. That's the problem here. Everyone's trying to make this way more complicated than it really is.
I think you just like to pick fights. Everyone is providing proof and explanation and your response to them all "you're a dumbass who's part of the system against drumming. I'm right you're wrong.". If you like the people here either don't get on the forum or at the very least don't comment.
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