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Setting up tom toms for recording

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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby ManFromGlass » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:46 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:Anyway, it all becomes moot when the drummer spatters drool all over the kit.
Obviously the throne isn’t level!
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby forumuser840717 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 3:49 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:
forumuser840717 wrote:Anyway, it all becomes moot when the drummer spatters drool all over the kit.
Obviously the throne isn’t level!
Ah, one can spot that when it's only the floor toms or extra snares/hi-hats that are getting wet. :tongue:
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon Dec 28, 2020 4:33 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:BUT that's because not many composers (or players) cared to think of toms as tuned, and then actually tune them to specific pitches and listen.”
This is quite an arrogant statement. If you really "care" when listening to these sounds, their pitch is "noisy"- because there's more than one frequency that can be the fundamental. These are complex sounds so the pitch can be ambiguous. The frequencies are a Bessel function. Whereas a string or a tube will have the harmonic series. That's why they sound different. It is a mistake to conflate them.

Pitch is perceived, whereas frequency is measureable. For sure, as I already said, there can be contexts where we can legitimately focus on one of the strong harmonics and call it the pitch. But we need to be careful about this. For example the tympanist making a rotten sound is quite a common occurrence if you've ever experienced amateur/ trainee orchestras! Tympanis are often a pain in the ass to work with.

Your composer friend has not considered the kinds of problems that occur with percusssion used in a pitched context. Check out the carillion. They don't have one strong fundamental, they actually produce a minor third- that's what makes it a carillion! This is an interesting challenge for composers. If you're doing a melody it's fine, you can direct people to hear one note. But if you try chords, it becomes a problem. That is is great simple example of what I mean by context. Timpani, triangle etc. even more so.

Look, it's not cut and dried. We are at the threshold of pitch versus timbre in this discussion. IMO to definitively state that a membrane is pitched is a gross over-simplification, and misses out on a world of timbre. Notwithstanding the fact that phyiscally they are classed as enharmonic, which for very good demonstrable reasons is a different class to harmonic. i.e. pitched instruments. The reason we have a difference of opinion is because pitch is perceived. There is no definitive side to be taken here. It's more complicated than that.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby forumuser840717 » Mon Dec 28, 2020 7:45 pm

Tomás Mulcahy wrote:Tympanis are often a pain in the ass to work with.

Tympani is plural! No need for the s.

Like any other musical instrument, they become a lot easier to work with after some practice, and easier still with more practice.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:35 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:
Tomás Mulcahy wrote:Tympanis are often a pain in the ass to work with.

Tympani is plural! No need for the s.

Like any other musical instrument, they become a lot easier to work with after some practice, and easier still with more practice.
You missed several other spelling mistakes :lol:
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Dave Rowles » Mon Dec 28, 2020 10:20 pm

Wow, I go away for a little while....

In expansion to my initial post:

Tuning the toms to pitch will all depend on a lot of factors as to whether it is practical to do so, or beneficial. In my experience the quality of the drumkit will denote how easy or hard it is to tune the drum to a pitch. A Pearl Masterworks is considerably easier to tune well than a Pearl Export. Not that you can't get a good sound out of an export, but I'd probably not bother going down the route of trying to get a note or pitch that fits the song.

Also it depends on time. If you've got time to tune the kit and find the right pitches for each song then you've probably got a decent enough kit that it'll be able to be tuned like that. If you've only got a day to record a whole album's worth of drums, tuning each tom between songs isn't worth the time.

I can certainly hear a defined pitch to the toms on my kit (The aforementioned Masterworks in case you're wondering). The higher you tune the toms the easier it is to find that defined pitch in my experience, and yes, if you take the resonant skin off that becomes easier still. I prefer the sound of 2 skins personally.

It's a cool thing to play with if you've got time, and it can make a difference to the overall timbre and cohesion of the sound if you get it right. But really I think it's one of those things you do when you've got the 5/10 minutes per tom it takes to get it right....and that's time spent after the initial tuning. I've taken an hour to tune a whole kit before, and it makes such a difference that it really frustrates me when I come across drummers with pocked marked skins and don't seem to care.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Watchmaker » Tue Dec 29, 2020 5:41 am

An hour? good lord. I have a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple kit that's been in the same room for eight months and, after at least three days of tuning, literally three full days on four drums, I've almost got it where its coming through the mics cleanly. By far the fussiest and most elusive shells I've ever had. spendy too. Makes me miss that old Export kit I had a as pup. Lucky me, I have the luxury of never having to tear down my studio set up :-)

OTOH I can tune a brand new kit for live sound in an hour...

*edit*
removed garbage
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:35 am

resistorman wrote:Start with some new heads.

New heads are on. This was 80% of the issue. The new heads make all the difference!!

The old ones could not be tuned up.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:38 am

Dave Rowles wrote:You also have to make sure that you have equal tension around the skin. The easiest way to do that is you lightly hold a finger in the exact centre of the skin and lightly tap on each of the lugs and make sure they sound at the same pitch.

Yes. This works. Without this equal tension, the drum is choked. With equal tension the drums ring strongly and makes a discernable pitch.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:44 am

ManFromGlass wrote:If your toms ring too much then perhaps some head dampening is in order. I’ve used those 2 inch square reusable stick on jell patches with success. I’ve also taken old drum heads and cut off the hoop, cut a large hole in the middle leaving a 3-4 inch rim and then placed it on the drum. Think of making a donut out of the old head. I had to use three stacked up on the same drum once to get the balance of tone to ring off I was looking for.

Ok we tried this after getting the drums tuned up. Used the old heads to make a ring to place on the new tom heads.

I like what this does for the floor tom. It changes the tone of the hit so it is less noisy, and more rounded and with a discernable tone. We are keeping the ring on the floor tom.

On the smaller toms, I prefer the sound without the rings. The rings take a little energy out of the strike. The toms are more balanced now as a set with the ring only on the floor tom.

Thanks for the tip!
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jan 23, 2021 7:02 am

Watchmaker wrote:I've been playing drums since I was 10 (46 years...) and wish you lots of luck. People have had the argument whether drums are pitched or not for eons...and it doesn't mean tiddly winks either way.

In my experience drums are, more often than not, very hard to tune well. Not so hard to get some sort of sound of them, but to really make a kit sound great, you have to tune it to itself AND the room. The room makes a difference! Sometimes insurmountable.

But! drums also have to feel right, which is different to every drummer and to every song. If the stick doesn't bounce right, which is part of the drummer's muscle memory, grooves can be very elusive, so it's not simply pitch as "fact" but pitch as "aspect," or part of a more complex fact set that leads to good drum tone.

There is no standard tuning and drumsets are not tempered instruments which adds to the debate, or rather, omits a common frame of reference from the dialectic. For myself, I dislike tuning drums, often struggle with it - despite nearly half a century of deep involvement. There seems to be more voodoo than science to it and some folks just have a knack for tuning drums without any hard philosophy about it.

THIS

OK, we followed our ears and could hear when the toms reached the point where they naturally sound powerful and good.

But equally important was the bounce of the stick off the drum. The drummer likes when the stick feels right. There is a point where the bounce is happy and the sound is also good. But it is a compromise.

The drums seem to have a natural pitch that they want to be. This is built into the drum it seems and you can't fight it or try to tune it differently. The tuning seemed more like an exploration to try and find it. Like when Steve Gadd started to smile!

For us, the three toms sound in minor thirds. So we used that interval and it helped guide us to the happy place. It makes each drum to be different and distinctive but go together, the stick bounces nicely and the drums have a nice and deep tone.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby awjoe » Sat Jan 23, 2021 8:06 am

Watchmaker wrote:There is no standard tuning and drumsets are not tempered instruments which adds to the debate, or rather, omits a common frame of reference from the dialectic. For myself, I dislike tuning drums, often struggle with it - despite nearly half a century of deep involvement. There seems to be more voodoo than science to it and some folks just have a knack for tuning drums without any hard philosophy about it.

Dialectic? I want to see or hear something you've done recently on drums. Indulge me.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby ManFromGlass » Sat Jan 23, 2021 2:47 pm

DC-Choppah wrote:The drums seem to have a natural pitch that they want to be. This is built into the drum it seems and you can't fight it or try to tune it differently. The tuning seemed more like an exploration to try and find it.
I totally forgot this. :headbang: Of course the size of the drum will have a frequency range that it really sings at. Most non-tunable instruments and non-instruments exhibit this - quick example - a simple wooden box. It will have it’s own tone if you hit it the correct way.
Glad you are having success with your tuning.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby DC-Choppah » Sat Jan 23, 2021 6:30 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:
DC-Choppah wrote:The drums seem to have a natural pitch that they want to be. This is built into the drum it seems and you can't fight it or try to tune it differently. The tuning seemed more like an exploration to try and find it.
I totally forgot this. :headbang: Of course the size of the drum will have a frequency range that it really sings at. Most non-tunable instruments and non-instruments exhibit this - quick example - a simple wooden box. It will have it’s own tone if you hit it the correct way.
Glad you are having success with your tuning.

Right. You tune the drum up high with even tension - using the trick where you push down at the center, and tap near each nut.

Then you can bring the pitch down. Turn quarter turn on each nut all around. Recheck the drum.

As you drop it down there is a place where the whole drum starts to vibrate. You can hear the ring last a longer time when it is right. You can tweak the pitch a bit in that zone so that the drums have the same interval between them - Minor third for me.

Bing Dang Dong

Bottoms head are tuned to match the tension on the top head. That seems to make the drum resonate the most.

Not a pitch like matched to a certain note - I mean we are changing key in the music anyways.

The pitch of the drum is just a relative pitch between the drums so that they relate to each other and have a unique voice. This makes the drummer happy when playing and makes drum fills musically interesting and expressive.
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Re: Setting up tom toms for recording

Postby Watchmaker » Sun Jan 24, 2021 3:12 am

awjoe wrote:
Watchmaker wrote:There is no standard...philosophy about it.

Dialectic? I want to see or hear something you've done recently on drums. Indulge me.

gimmie a couple of days and I'll crank something out. Most of my drum tracks are SD3 and I have only demo's with live drums on them.
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