Tips and Tricks for playing my new Hand Drum?

Tips and Tricks for playing my new Hand Drum?
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#1

I have a new toy, a large hand drum, I think it’s about 500mm diameter. I made it at a workshop, using rawhide (horse) strung across a cedar frame and laced with gut. Being made and stretched by me, with the help of the drum-making tutor, it’s a bit gnarly in places but was a wonderful thing to make…

I LOVE the sound of it, a deep resonant ringing boom when I thump it, but helluva challenge to record. My dead-air studio fair RINGS with it… transients abound!!!

Here’s just a few plain beats from my studio, no added anything… It’s just a tentative beat using the beater in the picture, it’s also fun to use hands and fingers.
The tone changes quite a lot depending on where I beat, the horsehide varied quite a bit in thickness and with the colouration I am getting a feel for where the different tones are. It definitely responds to humidity - much better sound when it is dry . Quite a lot more resonance when recorded back to front… :smile:
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Does anyone play one of these or know anything about them?
I love the sound of it and want to learn how to make useful recorded sounds with it.
I’m going to just play with it for a while, I did attempt to use it in my latest bash song but ended up cutting it right back as I need to learn a bunch more. I love the richness of its broad frequency range but I guess I’ll need to ruthlessly trim it… maybe it’s more fun for a live thing than a recording thing…

Would love some helpful hints/pointers…???


She thought to see Dragons
#2

Specifically with respect to the transient capture: Usually the ratio of transient to sustain is directly related to the distance the mic is from where the beater hits the drum. ie The closer the mic is to the beater, the more transient it will pick up in comparison to the sustain portion.

My recommendation would be to experiment with mic distance - record it at various distances and positions, then play them back and compare - listen to which of the positions captures the best blend of transient, sustain and frequency balance.

This may sound simplistic, but If you like how the drum sounds when you play it, then maybe the most logical thing to do would be to put a mic as close to your ears as you can get it.


#3

So you killed a horse to make this? :wink: Ha, just kidding. I don’t know how they source these things but I hope ethically. So it’s about 20" in English/American standards? If so, that’s quite large. My shaman drum is 18" (460mm). Yours would be considered a “frame” drum (multi-sided) while mine is a “hoop” drum (as round as possible).

[quote=“Emma, post:1, topic:1575, full:true”]I LOVE the sound of it, a deep resonant ringing boom when I thump it, but helluva challenge to record. My dead-air studio fair RINGS with it… transients abound!!!

Here’s just a few plain beats from my studio, no added anything… It’s just a tentative beat using the beater in the picture, it’s also fun to use hands and fingers.
The tone changes quite a lot depending on where I beat, the horsehide varied quite a bit in thickness and with the colouration I am getting a feel for where the different tones are. It definitely responds to humidity - much better sound when it is dry . Quite a lot more resonance when recorded back to front… :smile:
[/quote]

That beater looks kind of small, mine has a much larger (beater) head. But I also like playing it with hands and fingers. The skin will definitely vary in how the sounds come, so you will gravitate to certain areas for certain tones, and others for variation. If your climate favours humidity, you may need to use a blow dryer or stove to tighten it up (though your default sound seems quite tight). Mine is the opposite, I have to use a damp cloth to reduce head tension to get a lower sound. What I found is that I have to record both front and back to get a good sound. I tune to what sounds good to me (usually rather low, E2 or F2 if you have a tuner) and mic the front head about 6-8" (for transients) and the back head about 6-8" or more (for tone). The back mic was even Omni as I recall, but a cardiod mic would probably do nearly as well.

My drum-meister advised me “listen to what the drum wants”. That’s radically different than the way we usually think. Our default is to tell the drum what to do. His philosophy is to listen to the drum talking to you and hear what it says to you (oo-wee-ooo). Tune it the way it wants to be played. I found this meant tuning it WAY down to where the drum shell would resonate with the drum head, as I said it’s about E2 or F2 for my drum (I use a guitar tuner). I can even go way down to C2 or C#2 but the drum gets a bit ‘flubby’ (but sounds awesome). It’s all about what you want the sound to be, how you want to interact with the drum, and how the audience or mic will hear it. The low sounds are better on the mic IMO.


#4

Maybe this will help. It’s about 3 minutes, and the drums are intermittent so you’ll have to be patient to hear them (that’s how the intuitive process works …). I believe this was the one recorded with two mics as I described.


#5

@Stan_Halen
oooeeeoooo indeed!!
Thanks heaps for that… yeah those pearls of wisdom sound similar to what I’d gleaned… it is very much more than ‘just a drum’… I have a smaller store bought one that is merely a percussive sound, I’m so looking forward to playing with this. It is going to be a new challenge, as with vocals, I’m keen to retain as much depth of sound/spectrum as possible, yay…
[happy grin]
Yeah there are a wide variety of sounds, I’ve not really played with tuning other than changing position and pressure. I was wondering about a bigger beater… but that one can give a wonderful THWANG and I really like hands-on. I have a set of brushes I must try too. Fun… Once I’d made it, I couldn’t play it for a week while the rawhide dried… quite a process…


#6

Yes, this is an instrument you created with your own energy (mentor prompting aside) and so it has your energy, your vibration. You get to decide (along with the drum’s intuitive contribution) what the drum should sound like, when it should be played, for whom, and under what circumstances. It’s a co-creative expression. It’s an organic voice. An expression for the many generations and ancestors that came before you. Their dreams and their struggles. Their visions. Make those come alive in your songs!