Saturday, October 17, 2009

Things I have learned about setting up your drum kit

1. Don't Frankenstein your kit. Drums kits are tuned to themselves; you start using parts of other kits, the drums will make ringing sounds in odd places. Adding a new brand of drum is like detuning one string on a guitar. It throws everything out of whack. Likewise, use one brand of cymbals. That one cymbal from a different brand will stick out like a sore thumb every time you hit it. However, allowances can be made for hardware, since it doesn't really effect tone, so you can use Tama Iron Cobra Double Bass Drum Pedals with your Pearl bass drum.

2. Get a Tama Iron Cobra Double Bass Drum Pedal. They're sweet.

3. Make sure your legs are directly aligned with your foot pedals, so that your foot and leg bones are along the same axis. Don't sit bowlegged. If you do, you spend too much energy and time moving your thoughts down from your brain to your foot, navigating the twists of your body, and thus lose on not just speed and power, but finesse as well. This means you also are going to want to angle your hi-hat/double-bass pedals out from the bass drum slightly. Don't make your pedals parallel. Accommodate the natural triangle of your legs positions comfortably at rest and place your pedal(s) where your other foot happens to be. Speed, power, and finesse are just as important for your hi-hat foot as for your bass drum foot.

4. Keep the floor tom positioned low and flat. If you angle it, you lose the force from your stroke, and bounce strokes become almost impossible to keep up. The mounted toms, it's alright to angle, since you will be playing them at an angle, (unless you're really tall) but try to keep them as close to the angles of your sticks as you can.

5. Don't mount anything on top of your hi-hat, like cowbells or tambourines. The extra wight throws off the clasping mechanism, and whatever novel little sound you get out of it isn't worth the loss of finesse on what is probably your most-used instrument. Doohickeys, if desired, can be mounted from clasping mechanisms attached to cymbal stands and other drum hardware, just nothing where pressure and weight are essential to function.

6. If you're short-sighted enough to have become a left-handed player at a right-handed kit, the easiest way to use your ride cymbal is not by placing it behind the floor tom, as right-handers do, but in front of it, so that you can play it cross-armed, the way right-handers play their hi-hat. This is a lot easier than trying to reach diagonally across the floor tom whenever you want to play ride. you don't have to twist your back or extend your arm or anything. Of course, it does make it almost impossible to play the ride with your right hand, so it's harder to do super-fast sixteenth-note patterns on it. There's always learning to drum ambidextrously!

The Magician in the Grove

So, I just signed up onto Scribd, after editing that story I had mentioned writing in the last post. If you feel like reading it, tell me what you think in comments. Thanks!

The Magician in the Grove

Works in Progress, or, In Search of Lost Time

A couple years ago I had an idea for a story, set around Christmastime. I thought the idea was clever, but, for some reason or another, didn't write it. Either it came to me in an off-season, and I just didn't feel like thinking about Christmas, much as nobody likes hearing Christmas songs before, oh, Thanksgiving, or it came to me during Christmastime and I just didn't feel like writing it because I am lazy.

Then, every year around Christmastime I would remember the story again, and think, oh yeah, I should write that. But then Christmas would come and go, and I wouldn't write it, and I would forget about it until next year.

Well, last year, I finally started working on it around Christmastime, with the intention of finishing it, and then coming up with some way to present it to friends and family. Heck, maybe even post it on this blog! I was writing it out, and liking it, nailing a lot of the little elements that had come to me over seasons past.

Then I came what might have been, might be, the climax, and I got stuck. I had a whole bunch of paths to choose to get to the ending I wanted and wasn't sure which was the right one. So I sat on it, trying to figure that out. Then the Holiday came and went, and I didn't complete the story. It's still sitting, uncompleted, on my hard drive somewhere.

Now, it's late October. The Christmas lights are showing up in the stores. The candy will be here soon too, just as soon as the Halloween merchandise goes clearance. And so this story has reentered my mind, and I realize that I have been "working" on this story for almost a year, that if I finished it this year, it will be over a year in the making, and several years in development.

I have another story, that I celebrated knocking out the rough draft of on this blog, somewhat around the same time. I have never done another draft of it. I have several drafts of the beginning of a novel, maybe thirty pages of one, that I have spent two years working on. At this rate, I will finish it in my fifties. Recently I tried to write some essays recently for this blog, one a piece of criticism, one on politics (maybe philosophy), Just to write something. They are both a couple paragraphs in, saved onto blogger, abandoned after I lost track of where they were going, or didn't feel like spending the time and effort figuring out how to cut the path.

My relationship to writing is like having this large sack of pus growing on the inside of my skull. I go too long without doing it, and it swells up and the pressure on my brain hurts all over. Then I sit down to write, and it's like pounding a nail into my skull. Some of the pus leaks out, and the pain goes away enough to be bearable, and I think "Whew! Well, that's go for now!" And I stop writing and go about my day. But pretty soon the hole heals up, and that bag starts to re-inflate and I start walking around screaming at myself again.

I would like for the bag of pus inside my skull to go away. But the only way for that to happen is if I really commit to writing, and really get some things written, things I feel I have polished enough to show off a bit. And the only way I can do that is if I actually commit myself to writing, all the time, every day, and not just in my head while pacing, but while sitting and typing (or writing longhand in a notebook, either one, I don't mind). And I keep putting off doing that, thinking "Tomorrow!" or telling myself that work has me tired. And time keeps slipping by, and that sac pressing into my brain doesn't just pound harder, it grows, too, creeping slowly around the concavity of my skull.

I grow afraid, as time slips by, that even if I do ever get up off the ground, it will be so late all I manage to do is crash into those trees in the distance.

Whew! I feel better!