Showing posts with label Percussion Instruments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Percussion Instruments. Show all posts

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Famous DRUMMERS - Bill Ward

Bill Ward, born in 1948 in Aston, Birmingham, England, is the drummer and one of the founding members of the English heavy metal band Black Sabbath. His drumming is best characterized by rapid drum rolls in between guitar riffs.

Bill Ward's interest in music began as early as age 5 when he first played drums. At age 15, Bill was already playing gigs. His most influential drummers include Larrie London, Louie Bellson, Bernard Purdie, and Joe Morello. Prior to Black Sabbath, Ward became a member of the bands The Rest, Method 5, and Mythology, from 1963 to 1968. After the breakup of their previous band Mythology, Ward and guitarist Tony Iommi joined vocalist Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler and formed a group that worked under the names The Polka Tulk Blues Company, Earth, and finally, 

Bill Ward.jpg
Photo: Wikipedia
Black Sabbath. Ward was the drummer on all released albums from 1969 to 1980, including the quadruple-platinum album Paranoid in the 1970s. August 1980 saw his temporary absence from the band for personal reasons after the release of Heaven and Hell. He was then unable to participate in the recording of 1981s Mob Rules. In January 1983, Ward returned in time for 1983s Born Again, however, due to problems with his health, he once again left the band following the album's recording. He was out for about a year, returned once more in summer of 1984, and stayed with the band until September 1985. From then until 1994, several drummers took his place in the band, namely, Eric Singer, Bev Bevan, Terry Chimes, Cozy Powell, Vinny Appice, and Bobby Rondinelli. Ward made a short-lived return to the band in August 1994 for a South American tour, where he played for 3 dates.

Ward released two albums, Ward One: Along the Way in 1989 and When the Bough Breaks (Preview Release) in 1997, under his solo project, The Bill Ward Band, before finally reuniting with Black Sabbath. Before this reunion, however, Ward and the original Black Sabbath already did short sets for Live Aid in 1985, and at a Costa Mesa, California Ozzy Osbourne show in November 1992. For the full-blown reunion, the band did two shows at the Birmingham NEC on December 4th and 5th 1997, which gave them an opportunity to release a double live album, aptly titled Reunion, in October 1998. It was the single Iron Man from this album that gave Ward and the band their first-ever Grammy award for Best Metal Performance.

In the summer of 1998, just before the band's European tour, Bill Ward suffered a heart attack while in rehearsals, which led to his temporary replacement by Vinny Appice. Fortunately, Ward had a speedy recovery and was well enough to return, this time for good, in January 1999, during which the band headlined in the annual Ozzfest tour through summer of that year. After this tour, the band members each worked on solo material, and Ward also found time to work on Tony Iommi's solo album, Iommi, in 2000.

Ward was initially reported to participate in a tour with Iommi, Butler, and vocalist Ronnie James Dio in October 2006 under the name Heaven and Hell, however, he dropped out before the tour began, and was replaced once again by Appice.

Bill Ward married four times and is blessed with two sons, Nigel and Aron, and one daughter, Emily. He has a regular radio show, Rock 50, an internet-only college radio program which broadcasts from Cerritos College in California.

    Drew Mers is a consultant to Empire Rehearsal Studios, which rents aspiring bands and musicians a rehearsal space in Long Island City, Queens, New York.
    Article Source: EzineArticles

Monday, September 11, 2017

Proper Way To Care For Your DRUMS

Your drums are not just instruments that you set on a stage and play, and then take home again for practice without ever touching them for maintenance or cleaning. The truth is, if you don't want to take the time to clean them and keep them properly tuned, you are not true to your trade. Depending on the type of drums that you have, there way be variations on the maintenance that the manufacturer recommends. How you care for your set depends also on the material from which it is made.

Dave Weckl's drum kit @ Jazz Alley, Seattle, W...
Dave Weckl's drum kit @ Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA, 8th Dec. 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if there isn't a rule regarding drum care, what do you do? As with your clothing, you follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. When you buy a new outfit, you check the label for laundering instructions – or you should – and the same is true of your drum set. Cymbals for the most part can be cleaned with a window cleaner, but how you clean your drums needs to be depends upon a variety of factors including material of the skins and of the outside. Steel is not recommended, though sometimes used, and there will be a different method than other material, which is usually simply soap and water or even glass cleaner for a shine.

As a drummer, you should be proud of your skins and want to keep them clean in between performances. It doesn't take more than perhaps a half hour a day to keep your set looking in top condition, but you want to make sure that you know exactly what you need to do before you even take the set home. If you order your drum set online, be sure you read all of the instructions regarding care and maintenance before you ever set up the kit, because some kits require oiling before you ever use the drums for the first time. Failing to do that when required can result in your drums sounding out of tune or not blending in with the rest of the musical instruments in the band.

Bear in mind that your drums are a major investment, and if you want them to last you for years to come, you have to take the time to take care of them from the day you first own them. You do not simply leave them to collect dust when you are not using them nor do you only take them in for maintenance when they don't sound as good as they did when they were new. Regular cleaning and routine maintenance will be your drum kit looking and sounding new for many years to come. It is unnecessary to buy a new set every few years if you take care of what you have from the start.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

NATIVE DRUMS - How to Tune Your Native Indian Drum

Tuning Native Drums
If your drum tone sounds flat and dull then it needs tuning, before we go into the "How to Tune" part, let's discuss factors that affect rawhide. Rawhide by its nature shrinks or expands depending on certain conditions. In cold, moist and humid weather or these types of environments rawhide expands. In hot and dry weather or when exposed to a heat source rawhide shrinks.

2007 Powwow
Photo   by Smithsonian Institution
Now, armed with this knowledge about rawhide we can use it to our advantage to tune our drum to that perfect tone we want. When your drum tone is flat and dull and the rawhide appears to be loose then you need to get the rawhide to tighten. We now know that exposing our drum to a heat source shrinks the rawhide.

Warning! Over exposing your drum to heat can lead to permanent damage. Please re-read that again, because whatever heat source you use it's important to know this. So don't place your drum in front or next to a heat source and walk away and forget about it. Ok, now that we have got that out of the way let us look at some different methods we can use to heat our drum which causes the rawhide to shrink and gives us a better tune/tone from our drum.

Methods to tune your Drum
  • Hair dryer - the quickest and easiest way to tune a drum. Start in the centre of the drum and work your way towards the edges. Should only take a few minutes.
  • Heat lamp - Place the drum in front of the heat lamp, once again should only take a few minutes. Periodically play your drum to test the tone.
  • Heater or fire place- Using this method it's important not to place the drum too close to the heat. If it's too hot for your hand then you need to move the drum further away.
  • Campfire - The preferred method of Native Indians to tune their drums. Most of us have seen the image of Native Indians dancing around the fire beating on their drums. Just make sure you do not place your drum too close to the naked flames.

Each of the above methods works well, just make sure you do not over do it. By that I mean, leave the drum in front or too close to the heat source for too long. If you do, over time the rawhide will become over stretched and eventually lose its natural elastic quality.

Also, if you over do it the rawhide can shrink too much and damage the timber frame of the drum. Regardless of the method you use, test the tune of the drum as you go through the process by playing the drum until you are happy with the tone. Providing it's done correctly you can repeatedly use these methods without affecting the life span of the drum.

So far we have talked about ways to tune your drum if it sounds flat and dull. What if you have the opposite problem? On a hot dry day the drum may sound very high pitched; in this case, the best way to get the rawhide to loosen is by spraying or sprinkling small amounts of water on the rawhide.

Start from the edges of the drum and work your way to the middle. Let it rest for a few minutes then test the tone of the drum. Keep repeating until you have the desired tone. Avoid wetting the timber frame of the drum and just like the heating method don't over do it. In fact, use this method if you do over heat your drum to loosen the rawhide.

Other factors that affect the tune and tone of Native American Drums.
Besides environmental conditions, there are other factors that affect the tone and pitch of Native Indian drums. They are:
  • Size of the drum. Generally the larger the drum size, that includes the rawhide surface area, timber frame width and depth, the deeper the tone and more the tone resonates. Small drums tend to have a more sharp higher pitch. Although other factors come into effect which can affect the tune, tone and pitch, regardless of the size.
  • Rawhide thickness. In my experience rawhide thickness has the biggest effect on the tone of drums, particularly "Hoop Drums". The thicker the hide the deeper the tone and pitch. Thinner hides have a higher sharp pitch. So you can have a large drum with a thin hide which produces a high sharp pitch tune or a smaller drum with a thick hide that producers a deep long tune.

These are all important factors you need to take into consideration when selecting your drum.
Native Drums in Australia

Friday, July 21, 2017

The 3 Best DRUMMERS Ever

Drummers are a strange breed. They are the loudest instrument on a track and are notoriously difficult to get right. The drummer needs to keep the rhythm going and the other band members will be using the drummer to keep pace. All this pressure isn't for everyone and playing the drums is a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time, it is almost impossible for an untrained guy to be a good drummer. But who are the best three drummers? It is a tough decision but below are the best drummers of all time.

Mike Portnoy.jpg
Mike Portnoy“ von chascar

Mike Portnoy - Tattoos all over his arms, a beard and long hair. Mike certainly looks the part and his drummer isn't half bad either. The founder of Dream Theatre, Mike is a drummer like no other. He was born in New York and is mainly a self taught drummer. He is the youngest drummer in the drummer's hall of fame and has been the best progressive rock drummer in modern drummer magazines reader's polls an unbelievable 12 years in a row, simply phenomenal.

Benny-greb-souledge.png"Benny-greb-souledge" by VinylVictim

Benny Greb - Benny's gigs are selling outs every time. Benny doesn't look like a typical drummer. This tall, spectacle wearing, bearded bloke is another excellent drummer. Born in Germany in 1960 Benny has had a lifelong interest in all types of music but it is drumming where he excels. He was playing in his first punk band when he was just twelve and quickly became one of the best drummers in the world. Benny works extremely hard and can be found jamming with a wide variety of styles. As well as gigging Benny is an avid teacher offering his famous drum clinics to other would be drumming genius.

Jason Bittner -Jason was taught how to play the drums. Born in New York in 1970, at the age of ten Jason took drumming lessons. He was a natural and in 1988 he studied at Berklee music school. Jason has won numerous modern drummers magazine awards including up and coming drummer and best recorded performance. Jason's speed on the drums is unbelievable; sometimes it almost looks impossible the speed with which he plays complex drum patterns.

The drums are an essential instrument in any band but there is no doubt that drumming is a skill that is difficult to master. These three individuals have obviously put the hard work and practice in that is necessary to attain the levels they have reached.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Information About the MARIMBA

The Marimba has come a long way - both geographically and technically speaking. The proto-marimba has long been a part of Amazonian, West African, and Central American cultures. In our society, they are the epitome of a classy, well respected instrument usually featured in high culture circles (such as in academia and orchestras). Marimbas are one of the most beautiful sounding percussion instruments. While very long and heavy, marimbas are capable of making very low to high tones that add an ethereal quality to many music pieces.

People interested in percussion (and perhaps even piano, since the overall layout is somewhat similar) should study and master the marimba. While playing the marimba is standard on the collegiate level, not too many people play the marimba before or after college, which is a shame. Although high school students may briefly encounter the marimbas in marching bands and drum and bugle corps, it is usually an insufficient amount of time to truly appreciate the complexity and necessity of this instrument.

P1390942 Andrey Doynikov spielt Bach
Marimba - Photo   by     tottr  (cc)

The reason for the high concentration of marimba playing in college, as opposed to any other time, is that marimbas are very expensive instruments. Often running a couple thousand dollars, they are too expensive for the average person. However, many reputable music schools should have one or two of these at their disposal, and these places make for great practice areas (besides the fact that a professional will be teaching you proper technique). There are affordable ways to get behind a marimba - do it!

The marimba is composed of metal keys of varying lengths hit by soft yarn mallets to produce varying tones. Many marimba players play using two mallets, or even using two mallets in each hand (resulting in four mallets being used simultaneously). Some of the more advanced players can use even more mallets...which is truly amazing. There are many techniques to striking the marimba, so a good deal of emphasis is placed on proper mallet holding methods. Depending on your personal style/capabilities and your teacher's personal preference, you may learn the "traditional grip", the "Burton grip", or the "Stevens grip", amongst many others.

The marimba is an octave lower (an octave is equivalent to eight complete notes) than its smaller counterpart, the xylophone. The main difference between the two instruments is the resonators featured on the marimba. These resonators (usually made of a light metal such as aluminum) are of different lengths and widths to help the marimba achieve its varying sounds. For the lower sounding notes, the resonators beneath the keys sometimes have to bend so as not to go straight through the floor!

Although many people are more familiar with the xylophone, the marimba serves as a sort of backbone in orchestras, ensembles, and bands. They are currently very popular in percussion ensembles, jazz ensembles, and marimba concertos. Any musician with serious musical aspirations simply must explore this wonderful and challenging instrument.

Are you interested in all things involving music?...

    By James J. Jones
    For the best variety of sheet music, click here to find everything you are looking for!
    If you want to peruse the largest selections of musical instruments, DJ equipment, or recording devices, click here!
    (7.2017 - Links not working)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Secret History Of DRUMS: The Role Of The Military Drummer

The role of the military drummer is a fascinating chapter from the hidden history of drums.

Hidden, because most people are unaware of the vital role played by the military drummer in communicating strategy and keeping the machinery of battle oiled.

English: Grenadier drummer, 1756-1762 Русский:...
Grenadier drummer, 1756-1762
(Photo credit: 
Battle Stations

In the 17th century, in preparation for battle, before the head on clash between rival armies, considerable time was spent manoeuvering men into position.

The drums were used to convey orders - each 'beat' having a specific meaning instantly recognisable to the soldiers.

When the drummer's 'Call' was heard, the men dropped what they were doing and immediately regrouped by their lieutenant or platoon commander to await further signals.

The Captain's order to beat the 'Troop' was a signal to shoulder muskets, advance pikes and close rank and file.

The 'March' was a signal to advance, faster or slower according to the beat of the drum, to the point of rendezvous.

The 'Preparative' signaled the men to advance in rank and file to within skirmishing distance and be ready to engage battle.

At this point the company drummers would run to where the Colonel stood (or sat on horseback) beside his own side-drummer and the standard bearer.

English: Drummer of bombardier regiment, 1757-...
Drummer of bombardier regiment, 1757-1758
(Photo credit: 
Engaging The Enemy

On the Colonel's order the drummers would beat the 'Battaile' or 'Charge'.

This was described by Colonel William Barriffe to mean 'pressing forward in order of battle without lagging behind, rather boldly stepping forward in place of him that falls dead or wounded before thee...'

In the thick of battle, with the sound of cannon and musket, the neighing of horses, the screams of the dying and wounded, the Colonel's voice would not be heard and the beat of the drum continued to play a vital role in communicating orders to the troops.

From his vantage point the Colonel would command his drum-major to instigate various manoeuvers. If it was required to withdraw in an orderly fashion - for relief, or to gain a vantage point, or to lure the enemy into an ambush - the 'Retreat' would sound. The soldier, fighting for his life, was well prepared - the meaning of the different beats had been literally 'drummed' into him time and time again in training.

At the onset of battle, the roar of the assembled drummers would surely instil courage in the hearts of the men (and fear in the hearts of the enemy). Possibly, in the heat of battle, the beat of the drum, detached and ethereal, took on a spiritual quality, helping the combatants to distance themselves from the horror and suffering all around.

The drummer clearly carried a huge responsibility in the orderly conduct of war. In recognition of this it was considered highly dishonourable to knowingly strike or wound a drummer in battle.

    Charles Armstrong

    Hugh Barty-King 'The Drum - A Royal Tournament Tribute to the Military Drum' 1988
    ISBN 0 9513588 0 4

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Secret History of DRUMS - Parleying with the enemy

One of the most interesting chapters in the history of drums is largely forgotten today - the various duties performed by military drummers in the past.

In times of peace, it was the drummer's responsibility to beat the 'tattoo' at sunset in the town streets - a signal to publicans to stop serving ale to soldiers and bid them drink up so they could get back to camp in time for curfew.

English: Battle of Naseby, by an unknown artis...
Battle of Naseby, by an unknown artist
(Photo credit: 

David Gilmore, Pink FloydDrummers also played a crucial role in introducing new blood into the army - in the town square, the drummer would demonstrate his prowess on the side drum - literally 'drumming up' new recruits. Many a young lad lived to rue the day he allowed himself to be seduced by the glamour of the drum into believing the recruiting officer's promises...

In times of war, in the thick of battle, drummers would relay the Colonel's orders to the troops - each 'beat' having a specific meaning which had been endlessly 'drummed into' the soldiers in training. When the chaos and noise around them rendered the Colonel's shouts ineffective, the beat of the massed drums indicated when they should regroup, advance, make ready, engage battle, retreat.

One of the more interesting functions of the drummer was to 'parley' with the other side - he would be sent as a go-between across enemy lines - to negotiate terms, arrange and pay ransoms, offer or accept terms of surrender, to deliver and bring back any hostages or prisoners who were to be exchanged.

Samuel ButlerEquipped with a small drum for lightness, and with written confirmation of his message attached to his hat, the drummer would approach the enemy camp and stop a musket shot's distance from the gates.

The sound of the 'parley' beaten on his drum was a signal of readiness to trade terms, and a party would come out to lead him, blind-fold, inside the camp to the General's pavilion.

His hidden adgenda to find out as much as he could about enemy numbers and the layout and disposition and any potential weakness of the camp was no secret to the adversaries, and anyone caught speaking to him out of line could reckon with the severest punishment. According to Robert Ward's Articles of War, Number VIII, 'Speaking With The Enemies' Messengers': 'None shall speak with a Drum or Trumpet or any other sent by the Enemy without order upon pain of punishment at discretion.'

Likewise, he had to be on his mettle not to divulge any information - the enemy would often ply him with drinks in the hope of loosening his tongue.

Parleying was obviously a delicate and dangerous undertaking and required skills of the drummer above and beyond musicality and mastery of the technique required to beat complex rhythms on the side drum. Discretion was required, tact, diplomacy, negotiation, sobriety, the ability to read and write, knowledge of foreign languages - skills not commonly found among rank and file soldiers in those days.

Parleying was manifestly a dangerous undertaking. The drummer who entered the enemy camp displaying any lack of confidence, or faltering in his delivery, or indadvertently insulting the enemy, could rightly fear for his safety.

The other extreme was also best avoided.

On Friday August 15 1645, at the height of the English Civil War, the royalist Governor of Sherborne Castle dispatched a drummer at 2 o'clock in the morning with the message he was willing to surrender on honourable terms.

Sir Thomas Fairfax, Captain General of all the Parliamentary Forces In England, could scarcely conceal his temper.

He dispatched his own drummer to offer no terms but quarter, and that should not be expected unless he surrender speedily...The over-confident manner of Fairfax's drummer in delivering this message so incensed the Governor that he almost hanged the fellow on the spot.

The drummer, however, lived to tell another tale. The episode ended badly for Sherborne Castle.

    Charles Armstrong
    In the words of Anne Finch, after the end of that terrible conflict:

    "Trail all your pikes, dispirit every drum,
    March in long procession from afar
    Ye silent, ye dejected men of war!
    Be still the hautboys, let the flute be dumb!"

    With acknowledgement to: Hugh Barty-King

    'The Drum - A Royal Tournament Tribute to the Military Drum' 1988

    ISBN 0 9513588 0 4

Friday, February 24, 2017

3 Steps to Increase Your Level of DRUMMING

Dance band drummer at Mark Foy's Empress Ballr...
Dance band drummer at
Mark Foy's Empress Ballroom, 1935
(Photo credit: 
There are many ways to increase the quality of your drumming and they can all be summarized into these 3 vital steps...

1. Develop Confidence
Many wanna-be musicians will choose the drums because they are shy and want to remain in the background (that's where I was when I started drumming back in 1976).

The truth is your body may be in the background, but your musical presence will definitely be noticed!

If you are going to be the drummer in a band, then you will be the anchor of the band. The other musicians will be relying on you to provide strong beats that will keep everything together. Everything you do behind your drum set will not only be heard, but felt, simply because you will be the all-important time keeper.

This notion of wanting to be a drummer so you can hide behind a drum set is ridiculous. You're gonna hide from no one! That's why it is imperitive to develop confidence in your drumming, and the first way to do that is to forget about the notion that you are hidden. Your mind set should be to establish your place in the band. Know who you are and why you're there. The rest will then fall into place.

2. Love Your Instrument
If any musician really wants to master their instrument they must absolutely love it. What do I mean "love it?" The best way to understand this is to relate loving your drums to loving a person.

Many people think "love" is a feeling, but it's not a feeling. For example; I love my wife, but I don't always like her (I suppose she can probably say the same thing about me).

Love is an action word. It means to adore, care for, learn about, edify, be loyal to, be devoted to, be committed to, support, protect, and promote. When you do these things the feeling of love automatically comes.

So, how can you tell if you really love your drums? You can tell if you love your drums by the priority you put on them. They must have some priority in your life , otherwise your drums are just a little hobby that you will only be mediocre at.

3. Remain Humble
If a drummer really wants to increase his or her level of playing it is critical to remain open minded.
The mind is like a parachute, it only functions when it is open. That's why it is so important to remain humble. Arrogant drummers never grow beyond their current level of drumming because they don't think there is any more they can learn. How foolish! There is always more to learn... and any advanced drummer can learn from an intermediate, or even a beginner!

As you continue to learn you will then be able to teach. When you begin teaching, you will be amazed at the additional things you will learn (if you are currently teaching you will understand).
It's critical to continue to learn and grow if you want to increase your level of drumming, and remaining humble is the only avenue through which you can do this. As with anything else, you must absolutely be confident in what you're doing and knowledge can make you confident.

Please don't mistake confidence with arrogance. Confidence is what makes a good drummer a great drummer. Arrogance is what makes a good drummer a lonely drummer! I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to play music with some cocky jerk who thinks he or she is better than everyone else.

When you develop confidence in your purpose as a drummer, learn to love your drums by giving them some priority in your life, altogether with remaining humble, your level of drumming will increase considerably.