Drum Sound and Drum Tuning : Bridging Science and Creativity book cover
1st Edition

Drum Sound and Drum Tuning
Bridging Science and Creativity

ISBN 9780367611187
Published May 26, 2021 by Focal Press
228 Pages 83 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Drum Sound and Drum Tuning assists drummers, sound engineers, and music students in learning critical skills related to drum sound and achieving an optimised and personalised drum kit set-up. The book covers the essential theories of percussion acoustics and develops this knowledge in order to facilitate creative approaches to drum tuning and professional-level recording and mixing of drums.

All aspects of drumhead vibration, drumhead equalisation, and resonant drumhead coupling are de-mystified, alongside discussions relating to drumhead types, drum shell vibration, and tuning to musical intervals for different performance genres. The book develops drum sound theory and creative analysis into a detailed dissection of recording and production techniques specifically for drums, including discussions on studio technologies, room acoustics, microphone techniques, phase coherence, and mixing drums with advanced digital audio workstation (DAW) techniques and creative processing tools.

Drum Sound and Drum Tuning includes many practical hands-on exercises that incorporate example tutorials with Logic Pro and iDrumTune Pro software, encouraging the reader to put theory into immediate creative practice and to develop their own listening skills in an informed and reflective manner. The book also documents primary interviews and opinion from some of the world’s most celebrated drummers, music producers, and sound engineers, enabling the reader to connect the relevant theories with real-world context, whilst refining their own personalised approach to mastering drum sound.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

1 Introduction

1.1 Values of Great Drum Sound

1.2 Why Bother with Drum Tuning?

1.3 About this Book

1.3.1 Educational Approach

1.3.2 Online Resources

1.3.3 Interviews with Esteemed Professionals

1.3.4 Companion Software and Examples

1.4 Don’t Forget to Listen!


2 Drumhead Vibration and the Science of Sound

2.1 Sound Sources, Acoustic Transmission and Sound Reception

2.2 Evaluating Frequencies

2.3 The Single Most Valuable Musical Acoustics Theory!

2.4 Measuring and Analysing Drum Modes


3 Tuning the Pitch of a Cylindrical Drum

3.1 Exploring the Pitch Range of a Cylindrical Drum

3.2 Musical Frequencies

3.3 Coupled Drumheads


4 Lug Tuning and Clearing the Drumhead

4.1 Evaluating the First Overtone of a Drum

4.2 Beat Frequencies

4.3 The Sound of a Uniformly Tuned Drumhead

4.4 Lug Tuning with Assistance


5 Tuning the Resonant Drumhead – What, Why and How?

5.1 Harmonics and In-Harmonic Overtones

5.2 Musical Intervals

5.3 Controlling Overtones and Intervals with the Resonant Drumhead


6 A Holistic Approach to Drum Tuning

6.1 Simplicity Wins

6.2 Setting the Fundamental Pitch

6.3 Implementing Lug Tuning and Resonant Head Tuning

6.4 Damping and Decay Times


7 The Wonderful World of Drumheads

7.1 Guitar Strings on Steroids!

7.2 The Drumhead Equation

7.3 Drumhead Types and Features

7.4 Resonant Drumhead Selection

7.5 Experience Drumheads!


8 Timbre: The Truth about Drum Shell Vibration

8.1 Introducing Timbre

8.2 Tuning Fork Example with Mass Loading

8.3 Drum Shell Vibration

8.4 Loading the Drum Shell

8.5 Bearing Edges and Precision Manufacturing

8.6 Considering the Drum Shell Vibration Frequency when Tuning


9 Tuning for Different Musical Styles and Genres

9.1 Creative Objectives

9.2 Drum Sizes for Different Music Genres

9.3 Pitches and Intervals on the Kit

9.4 Tuning Suggestions for Different Genres

9.5 Drumheads for Different Music Genres


10 Snare Drum Tuning

10.1 Key Aspects of Snare Tuning

10.2 Holistic Approach to Snare Tuning

10.3 Manipulating Snare Drum Timbre

10.4 Comparing Snare Timbre Example


11 Kick Drum Tuning

11.1 Kick Drum Tone and Dynamics

11.2 Drumheads for the Kick Drum

11.3 Kick Drum Tuning Range

11.4 Controlling the Kick Drum Timbre


12 Production and Preparation for Drum Recording

12.1 Production and Pre-Production

12.2 Setting Standards and Getting Results

12.3 Choosing and Evaluating the Recording Space

12.3.1 Room Size and Dimensions

12.3.2 Room Materials and Reverberation Characteristics

12.3.3 Sound Isolation and Background Noise Levels

12.3.4 Suitability for a Room’s Use in a Recording Project

12.3.5 Positioning Drums within a Room

12.4 Tuning and Performance for Recording


13 Fundamental Technologies for Drum Recording

13.1 Microphones and Transducers

13.1.1 Dynamic Microphones

13.1.2 Condenser Microphones

13.1.3 Ribbon Microphones

13.1.4 Other Audio Transducers

13.2 Microphone Characteristics

13.2.1 Microphone Polar Patterns

13.2.2 Other Microphone Characteristics

13.3 The Complete Recording Signal Chain

13.3.1 Audio Convertors

13.3.2 Mixing Desk

13.3.3 Microphone Preamplifiers

13.3.4 Recording with FX

13.4 Monitoring and Foldback

13.4.1 Control Room Monitoring

13.4.2 Headphone Foldback

14 We Need to Talk About Phase!

14.1 What Exactly is Phase?

14.2 Time Delay and Comb Filtering

14.3 Mono Compatibility

14.4 Signal Polarity


15 Microphone Techniques for Recording Drums

15.1 Microphone Placement Approaches

15.2 Stereo Recording for Drums

15.2.1 Defining The Stereo Field

15.2.2 Spaced Pair Technique

15.2.3 X-Y Technique

15.2.4 Blumlein Pair Technique

15.2.5 ORTF Technique

15.2.6 Mid-Side Technique

15.2.7 Baffled Omnidirectional Pair Technique

15.2.8 Decca Tree Technique

15.2.9 Left-Right-Center Technique

15.3 Using Spot Microphone Techniques

15.3.1 Kick Drum Microphone Technique

15.3.2 Snare Drum Microphone Technique

15.3.3 Tom Drum Microphone Technique

15.3.4 Close Cymbal Microphone Technique

15.4 Room Microphones

15.5 Microphone Choices for Recording Drums

15.6 Developing a Personal Approach


16 Mixing Drums: Balance and Dynamics

16.1 Balance, Panning and Bussing

16.2 Dynamics Processing

16.2.1 Compression and Limiting

16.2.2 Gates and Expanders

16.2.3 Envelope Shaping

16.3 Hybrid mixing


17 Mixing Drums: Creative Processing

17.1 Equalisation and Spectral Processing

17.1.1 Cutting Low Frequencies

17.1.2 Treating the Fundamental and Overtones of Each Drum

17.1.3 Adding Attack and Presence

17.1.4 Controlling High Frequencies

17.2 Using Reverb to Regain Authenticity

17.3 Delay for Drums

17.4 Distortion and Enhancers

17.5 Sequential and Sidechain and Processing

17.6 Drum Replacement

17.7 The Final Mixdown



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Rob Toulson is an innovative musician, music producer, sound designer, and studio engineer working across most music and film genres. He has collaborated with many successful music artists and award-winning music producers, including Talvin Singh, Mediaeval Baebes, and Ethan Ash. He is an expert in musical acoustics and digital audio, with a doctorate in vibration and acoustics analysis and a full professor title in commercial music from University of Westminster, London, UK. He is also founder and director of RT60 Ltd, who develop cutting-edge technologies for the audio and music industries.