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Re: Drum Versus Cow Skin?

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  • Karm
    Good Reverend and All, I guess a harder shell provides more projection given shell volume and head qualities which for my project the shells are equal volume
    Message 1 of 14 , Feb 27, 2007
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      Good Reverend and All,

      I guess a harder shell provides more projection given shell volume and head qualities which for my project the shells are equal volume at about 12" dia. So minimizing the density variable and with shell volume at a constant, the final choice is head thickness versus desired drum acoustics.

      Two drums, tensioned into crisp slap range, seems like the thicker skin is the low drum and the less skin is the high drum.

      Now for another dimension of our learned reality: What is better. Does a low drum with more projection mate with a high drum of lesser projection------or is it the other way around? Or am I being just way to specific and ought to just let the shells tell me with a little meditation.

      To many of you fine drummers I hope these questions are not too tedious, I am one of these left brain individuals slowly developing my rhythmic nature and for a home project these little decisions are important. Time spent re-heading is just that much more time away from my rhythmic adventures.

      thx, Karm
    • jembe jim
      Hi Karm and Everyone This is a great thread, the mysteries of the djembe are not easily discovered. For me the most important consideration is the
      Message 2 of 14 , Mar 1 9:16 AM
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        Hi Karm and Everyone

        This is a great thread, the mysteries of the djembe are not easily
        discovered.

        For me the most important consideration is the expressiveness of the drum.
        By this I mean the variety of distinct tones and slaps sounds the drum can
        make. And the how easy it is to get them. The bass note on the djembe is
        almost never heard in a djembe ensemble with the 3 dununba drums and their
        bells going.

        Playing traditional rhythms and solos it is this clarity and expressiveness
        that overrides every other criteria. The skin for a djembe head is a very
        personal choice and depends somewhat on your body shape and skill level. The
        best way to find out what you need is to try a lot of drums. Play a
        favorite rhythm that has tones and slaps mixed in a complex way and
        concentrate on the musical clarity of the sound. Some drums will sing for
        you, some will not.

        In my experience players progress to thicker skins as skill increases.
        Beginners seem to have the most problems playing a good slap, where later
        with more experience the tone clarity seems harder (relatively) Also note
        that choice of skin for a djembe head is not a one time affair. They are
        like guitar strings and don't last forever when kept tuned high and played a
        lot.

        drumin peace
        .jim
      • merlinsythove
        ... This is so true. I have played on different skins over the past 7 years, thin and thick, and some are great to learn one thing and others to learn another
        Message 3 of 14 , Mar 2 1:38 AM
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          "jembe jim" <faq@...> wrote:
          >... In my experience players progress to thicker skins as skill
          > increases. Beginners seem to have the most problems playing a
          > good slap, where later with more experience the tone clarity
          > seems harder (relatively)

          This is so true. I have played on different skins over the past 7 years,
          thin and thick, and some are great to learn one thing and others to
          learn another thing. Also don't forget that the skin tension plays a big
          part, and that your own skill makes 90% of the difference!

          As for the whole discussion on djembe size and skin and wood and so
          forth: yes, it all matters. But it will only matter to a master who
          needs to bring out the best. To any and all others, we still have so
          much to learn that I tend to see a particular djembe and a particular
          skin as a learning opportunity, not as the perfect djembe.

          Sometimes I see people come to a drum circle with a smallish djembe with
          thick skin tuned really high. You don't need to be able to play a good
          slap in order to be high and loud and "audible" on such a djembe. And
          you won't learn to do that either on such a djembe, it is too small and
          too tight. By far the best advice is to give your OWN djembe to a
          master, and ask him to maybe tune it and certainly play on it for a
          while, so that you may hear what sounds YOUR djembe can make. And then
          you know that it is not your djembe that is at fault, but your
          technique. And you know what to aim for. That is what I did in any case.
          And it showed me that a good player can play louder and higher slaps
          than I could at the time, and louder and fuller tones too, and that
          there was absolutely nothing wrong with my djembe at all... :-)

          Happy drumming!

          Dennis
        • merlinsythove
          Minimalistic doundoun stand for a vertical doundoun set http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm
          Message 4 of 14 , Mar 4 2:47 AM
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            Minimalistic doundoun stand for a vertical doundoun set

            http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm
            <http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm>

            Happy drumming,
            Dennis
          • Chris Kennedy
            Wow, What a great idea Dennis. Way to go, and thanks very much. Chris http://www.thegoatworks.com/
            Message 5 of 14 , Mar 4 5:41 AM
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              Wow,
              What a great idea Dennis.
              Way to go, and thanks very much.
              Chris

              http://www.thegoatworks.com/

              Dennis, merlinsythove wrote:
              > http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm
              > <http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm>
            • james@djembefola.com
              jembe jim writes: In my experience players progress to thicker skins as skill increases. Beginners seem to have the most problems playing a
              Message 6 of 14 , Mar 4 7:03 AM
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                "jembe jim" <faq@...> writes:
                "In my experience players progress to thicker skins as skill increases.
                Beginners seem to have the most problems playing a good slap, where later
                with more experience the tone clarity seems harder (relatively) Also note
                that choice of skin for a djembe head is not a one time affair. They are
                like guitar strings and don't last forever when kept tuned high and played a
                lot."

                Hi Jim,

                I have considered what you say about progressing to thicker skin for
                clearer tone before. I would argue that this would be a mistake to try
                and make up for poor tones with a thicker skin.

                Famoudou doesn't need a thicker skin ;o)

                James
              • Ed Haggard
                Very similar to what I have done Dennis with the last three sets of duns I ve built. Except I have used 2x4 s cut into scalene triangle shapes and I drill
                Message 7 of 14 , Mar 4 7:18 AM
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                  Very similar to what I have done Dennis with the last three sets of
                  duns I've built. Except I have used 2x4's cut into scalene triangle
                  shapes and I drill holes in them and lash them to the drum with 4mm
                  rope. I have old crutches for legs on my own dununba.

                  Ed
                  thelovedrums.com

                  Dennis, merlinsythove wrote:
                  > http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm
                  > <http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm>
                • gtadrumming
                  Hi everyone. It s interesting to see how so many people are concerned with being loud and audible in a drum circle... A thicker skin will produced a lower
                  Message 8 of 14 , Mar 4 8:26 AM
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                    Hi everyone. It's interesting to see how so many people are
                    concerned with being "loud" and "audible" in a drum circle...

                    A thicker skin will produced a lower pitch - but not necessarily a
                    lower volume. A thick skin should be tuned tightly, just like a thin
                    one. The thinner the skin, the higher and crackier the sound ... a
                    thicker skin like antelope will produce a mellow sound ... but
                    equally capable of producing the pitch difference required between
                    tone and slap. And I mean literally PITCH, not volume. if you don't
                    hear two separate notes between a tone, and a slap, played at the
                    same volume, there's something amiss with the way the drum is being
                    approached.

                    Fmoudou Konate taught us to play tone and slap VERY quietly... so
                    that the pitch difference between the two notes was maximum, but the
                    volume (or lack thereof) was matched between the strikes --- this
                    way the melody of the rhythms will be brought out with their
                    original intended sensitivity and beauty.

                    A drum is not just something to hit, it's a musical instrument full
                    of expressiveness to be coaxed out by people who care enough to
                    communicate with it, understand it, and learn to play it with skill -
                    it's no always about volume, although sometimes lots of volume can
                    sure let off a lot of steam!

                    If your hands hurt afterwards? you're hitting the drum hard, not
                    skillfully. And yes, that can be related to a floppy drum which
                    needs tuning.

                    Kathleen

                    > "jembe jim" <faq@> wrote:
                    > >... In my experience players progress to thicker skins as skill
                    > > increases. Beginners seem to have the most problems playing a
                    > > good slap, where later with more experience the tone clarity
                    > > seems harder (relatively)

                    Dennis, "merlinsythove" <Merlin@...> replied:
                    > This is so true. I have played on different skins over the past 7
                    years,
                    > thin and thick, and some are great to learn one thing and others to
                    > learn another thing. Also don't forget that the skin tension plays
                    a big
                    > part, and that your own skill makes 90% of the difference!
                    >
                    > As for the whole discussion on djembe size and skin and wood and so
                    > forth: yes, it all matters. But it will only matter to a master who
                    > needs to bring out the best. To any and all others, we still have
                    so
                    > much to learn that I tend to see a particular djembe and a
                    particular
                    > skin as a learning opportunity, not as the perfect djembe.
                    >
                    > Sometimes I see people come to a drum circle with a smallish
                    djembe with
                    > thick skin tuned really high. You don't need to be able to play a
                    good
                    > slap in order to be high and loud and "audible" on such a djembe.
                    And
                    > you won't learn to do that either on such a djembe, it is too
                    small and
                    > too tight. By far the best advice is to give your OWN djembe to a
                    > master, and ask him to maybe tune it and certainly play on it for a
                    > while, so that you may hear what sounds YOUR djembe can make. And
                    then
                    > you know that it is not your djembe that is at fault, but your
                    > technique. And you know what to aim for. That is what I did in any
                    case.
                    > And it showed me that a good player can play louder and higher
                    slaps
                    > than I could at the time, and louder and fuller tones too, and that
                    > there was absolutely nothing wrong with my djembe at all... :-)
                  • Mark Richards
                    thank you dennis!
                    Message 9 of 14 , Mar 4 6:39 PM
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                    • jembe jim
                      Hi James I agree with you completely, I didn t mean to imply that a thicker skin makes a clear tone easier, in fact I think tones are easiest on a medium head.
                      Message 10 of 14 , Mar 4 9:48 PM
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                        Hi James

                        I agree with you completely, I didn't mean to imply that a thicker skin
                        makes a clear tone easier, in fact I think tones are easiest on a medium
                        head. I have been to a few of Famoudou's workshops, and Mamady's. And I
                        think they both use fairly thick heads. My best djembe was made by Mamady
                        Keita's son Mahiri. I had the choice and after trying a few of his drums I
                        chose a thick goat head. More recently we have been studying with Menes
                        Yahudah and he uses a calf head, just a little thicker than a thick goat.
                        These teachers have more clarity than I can ever hope to achieve. I think
                        intermediate players like myself like the thicker skin because it is easier
                        to get more than one slap note and that does sometimes cover a weak tone
                        technique. Expecially with the passport rhythm (Kuku djembe2)
                        oo-soos-
                        Try to keep that one clean at high speed for a while.

                        .jim
                      • odomay
                        Ok. Just so long as the dancers can hear the break when whoever is playing the break is playing with a crowd of other drummers, especially in a class setting
                        Message 11 of 14 , Mar 5 12:19 PM
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                          Ok. Just so long as the dancers can hear the break when whoever is
                          playing the break is playing with a crowd of other drummers,
                          especially in a class setting or performance.
                        • Bob Miller
                          Another thank you for posting this! Great idea. Very simple. Works great!
                          Message 12 of 14 , Mar 12 11:48 AM
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                            Another thank you for posting this!

                            Great idea. Very simple. Works great!

                            Dennis "merlinsythove" <Merlin@...> wrote:
                            > Minimalistic doundoun stand for a vertical doundoun set
                            >
                            > http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm
                            > <http://www.silvercircle.org/yankadi/doundounstand.htm>
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