Topic: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"  (Read 7754 times)

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rlhubley

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"Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« on: February 01, 2002, 09:46 AM »
How do you guys feel about this technique?  I personally disagree with it.  But, I'm interested in what you all think, and why you think that way.

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2002, 10:51 AM »
I know before I can reply ... I think it would be best if you describe to us what YOU think this technique is and/or means to you.

I don't know if an earlier post I made brought the idea for this thread ... but I think that you won't disagree with what "pulling the sound out" means to me.  8)

felix

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2002, 02:44 AM »
I've heard this and I really don't understand the concept...it must be meant for people that really play into or thru the drums.

To me it means getting off the head...I think any drummer with reasonable technique is going be "pulling sound" unless otherwise desired.

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2002, 03:20 AM »
Quote
To me it means getting off the head...I think any drummer with reasonable technique is going be "pulling sound" unless otherwise desired.
I agree Felix. Robert didn't respond yet ... but I'll go ahead and give my two cents.

The term "pulling the sound out of the drum" was first used, in my training background, in reference to timpani. The concept is basically to get the mallet off the drum quickly once it's been struck. It's a feel that is develop; connecting with the membrane of the drum, moving the air, and visually & mentally think of pulling the sound out with each stroke.

As applied to drumset, I view it just as Felix has already mentioned. Examples: getting the kick drum beater off the drumhead ... letting it rebound; allowing the sticks to rebound freely off the drums and cymbals; striking the instrument to set it vibrating the pulling away ... so to speak. To be honest, I don't really focus too much on this ... it's just a feel and sound that is developed over the years. I do bring this up, however, if a student of mine is ramming the kick drum beater into the drumhead and pressing ... or ... doing the same thing with a drumstick on a drum.

I could go on and on with words ... but it's the visual picture that you get that seems to be the biggest assistance to getting a great sound out of the drum. This technique is even more evident when playing hand drums ... or mallet instruments. Perhaps James will make a few comments.

So, I really wanted to know what it was the Robert was opposed to before I made detailed comments. I'm guessing that he has a different view and/or definition for the term. Let us hear from you Robert!

Offline James Walker

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2002, 05:06 AM »
Quote
I could go on and on with words ... but it's the visual picture that you get that seems to be the biggest assistance to getting a great sound out of the drum. This technique is even more evident when playing hand drums ... or mallet instruments. Perhaps James will make a few comments.

I'll limit my comments to mallet instruments - I have some thoughts about the other percussion instruments as well, but I'll focus on my area of expertise.

There are two aspects to this issue, the way the "pulling off/out" motion is being described.  One is getting the mallet (stick, hand) away from the bar (drum head, etc.) as quickly as possible.  This, to me, is something to strive for, for several reasons:

- most importantly, it helps to maximize the efficiency of the stroke - begin with the mallet in the starting position, move it down towards the bar, strike the bar, bring the mallet back up to the starting position.  The more efficient this motion is, the quicker the process is, and the more mallet strokes one can get into a given period of time - thus increasing the speed of the player.  Bringing the mallet right back up after striking the bar, and ONLY using the "down-up-down" motion, also eliminates excessive motion, such as preparation strokes (lifting the mallet up an instant before bringing it down on the bar - why?  Wasted motion, wasted time.  It's like those drivers who routinely veer off to the right before making a left-hand turn.)

- bringing the mallet back up immediately after striking the bar gets it out of the way of the other hand's mallet; this is more of an issue on a mallet instrument than on a drum, given the lateral movements involved in moving from pitch to pitch.  The issue is getting one mallet out of the way of the other, again maximizing efficiency of motion.  (There are other benefits to this for two-mallet vibes/marimba/xylo playing, but that's moving OT.)

- Unless you're talking about dead strokes (leaving the mallet on the bar), I don't know if the "pulling up" motion actually gets the mallet off of the bar so much more quickly that the sound is noticeably changed.  HOWEVER, I think that a player with good technique - and the efficient "down-up" motion described above - will produce a better sound as a result of using quicker, cleaner motion, with the appearance of "lifting off" or "pulling off" the bar being symptomatic rather than causal.

Here's my problem with the idea of teaching a student to "pull the sound out" of a percussion instrument.  If the idea is to "pull out" of the bar (drum head, cymbal, etc.), you're going to - consciously or unconsciously - slow down the stroke before the mallet hits the bar - "pulling your punch," for lack of a better term.  On a very basic level, you get a percussion instrument to "sound" by transferring the energy from the mallet (stick, hand) to the striking surface.  I get my best sound - and over the years, I've had success teaching this way as well - by aiming for a spot underneath the bar.  Let the bar stop the motion of the mallet - that transfers the maximum amount of energy of the mallet (mass X velocity) into the bar, yielding (IMHO) a fuller tone and more volume.  The way I explain this to my students is to make reference to the basic motion of swinging a baseball bat or a tennis racket.  A batter doesn't stop the motion when he strikes the baseball, he swings through it - same for the tennis player.  Now, we're talking about greater velocity and mass when comparing a baseball bat to a marimba mallet, but the basic idea - transferring the maximum amount of energy from the mallet intothe bar - is the same.

I know this may seem contradictory to the idea of bringing the mallet right up off of the bar after striking it, but it's really not.

Bottom line?  I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of getting the mallet (stick/hand) off of the striking surface ASAP, for the reasons cited above - but the use of terminology such as "pull the sound out" just doesn't sit well with my concept of sound production.  As always, YMMV.

"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

rlhubley

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2002, 05:12 AM »
Through high-school and somewhat in college(but only from other students) i was told of this technique.  In HS, the BD would tell us to "pull the sound" from the bass drum.  It basically meant, use a full stroke.  But, he wanted you to literally PULL from the drum, in this lame dramatic fashion.  So, in that case, I think it is useful, but just a bit over-emphasized.  My problem with this technique, is that many people seem to think that you really can PULL the sound out the instrument.  For instance, if a student is told to play like that on the marimba, how will she/he have time to shift over to the next bar and be able to perform a decent stroke, on the right part of the bar?  

I guess my real problem with this is more about how the name of the technique.  You should know not to not leave the stick or mallet on the head/bar, so it kind of goes without saying.  Unless of course, you are wanting to acheive a dead sound.  I just don't see how you can "pull" soundwaves out of something.  

Offline Bart Elliott

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2002, 05:24 AM »
I agree with you 100% James ... as this is how I've taught my students in the past. I think the only time I've ever used the term "pulling the sound out of the drum" is when I've taught timpani.

I think James is totally right. And as far as using the term in question ... most people don't get it anyway ... it has always seemed to confuse the issue.

Visual images of touching a hot iron seems to work well; or thinking of the drumstick being made of butter ... and leaving it on the surface whould cause it to melt.

The best mental picture I've been able to use to help young students to allow the natural rebound of the stick to occur, and not press in, is to tell them to pretend there is a bug on their drum which they want to kill ... but not squash to the point that it's guts splatter everywhere. Kids just love that  :P and seem to get the idea rather quickly.

One thing that puzzles me ... especially when watching my 20 month old son play on my drums. He naturally allows the sticks to rebound off the drums and cymbals ... PERFECT technique with a GREAT sound. At what point does a child start ramming the stick into the drumhead? Is it aggression or learned behavior?

To me, playing the drums should be a natural thing. You do what you need to do to produce the sound, which is to set the instrument into motion and vibrate ... that's it! It amazes me that we have to talk and teach people to do this ... when a young child with no training or assistance can strike the drum beautifully ... not to mention hold the sticks in a relaxed, natural manner.

And it has nothing to do with Aidan being my son. He watches me play, but I don't think that has anything to do with it ... yet.

Offline James Walker

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2002, 06:21 AM »
Quote
Through high-school and somewhat in college(but only from other students) i was told of this technique.  In HS, the BD would tell us to "pull the sound" from the bass drum.  It basically meant, use a full stroke.

The big thing here - "high school band director."  Anyone here who has taught a "secondary instruments class" in percussion for education majors (i.e., future band directors) knows that it's an impossible task (IMHO) to cover a wide range of percussion instruments adequately in a single semester.  Often (mostly? always?), these classes are taught by grad' students, not the college faculty, so in many cases you've got:

- inexperienced grad' students who may not be very skilled in presenting concepts (some are, some aren't)
- these students presenting the information in a very limited fashion to education majors, due to time constraints as much as anything
- these education majors (retaining exactly how much of what little they learned in their percussion methods class?) moving on to direct a school band, where they've got to teach 40-80 (or more) students in the band; this situation doesn't lend itself to in-depth discussion of concepts and techniques

...so the information which is presented to the high school students may well have been watered down at several points in the process - yielding the teaching of poor techniques, or the poor teaching of what may be good techniques.  Maybe the person who taught your band director that you "pull the sound out" of a drum decided to use that expression to get the basic motion across quickly - unfortunately, it gets translated and transformed into lousy technique.

Tangentially:  I'm amazed by how many private teachers - college, or otherwise - overlook the fundamentals when they teach.
"I played with Holdsworth, Fripp, and Belew...I wish we drummers could play that differently. Drummers are starting to homogenize into the same guy, which frightens me." - Bill Bruford

rlhubley

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2002, 06:37 AM »
100% agreement with james on this one.  100%.  

BTW, another good way to teach this stroke I've found it to talk about bouncing a basket ball, or even a tennis ball.  I've had students that I told to bounce a tennis ball around for a week, and especially for a minute or so before he begins practicing.  Also, if he loses his stroke during practice, stop, take a break, and go bounce the tennist ball.  It seems to really help with the idea of nataraul rebound.  

QuadGod083

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2002, 03:23 PM »
I believe that this technique is imperative for concert percussion, esp. marimba and timpani.  I have played quite a bit of timpani and seen some very good (and very bad) timpanists.  If you try to make the drum play louder by beating the crap out of it, it will produce a horrible tone.
It's a very subtle difference, but if there isn't a lot of orchestral timpani music that takes a chops monster to play, so you have to make up for it by making the instrument sound as good as it possibly can.  You can also relate this concept to drumset.  What is the difference between Steve Gadd and the rest of the drumming community?  Steve Gadd can play the opening groove to "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover" and make it sound like Steve Gadd is playing it.  Likewise, the difference between Vic Firth and the rest of the world's timpanists is that Vic can play a forte-piano roll and make it sound like Vic Firth is playing it.
I recently saw a really bad timpanist at a concert.  When he wanted to play fortissimo, he used a twelve inch mallet height.  When I want to play fortissimo, I use a 6-9 inch  stick height and pull of the dead as soon as the mallet makes contact.  I get a cleaner, more resonant sound and my stroke is louder.
As far as drumset, I don't think you have to pull the sound out of the drum.  Most (if not all) drumset components are made to be loud, not resonate and have a beautiful tone that brings a tear to your eye.
--adam--

marker

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Re: "Pulling the sound out of the _____"
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2002, 03:12 PM »
I believe that's the Gruber drum guru thing.  I guess you'd have to try it, although it sounded to me like a way to push traditional grip.  It seems to me that letting the stick rebound makes more sense than trying to jerk it up, but I guess I can't knock it if I haven't tried it.

 

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