Today I want to talk about how highly important it is to be open and be able to think creatively. All it takes is being open and trying things yourself to stumble upon something you like or don’t like. Today I experimented with snare drum sounds for an hour or so just trying to see how many sounds I could get out of it. I am going to go over a few and keep in mind that you can apply this to everything, i.e hi hat, bass drum, toms, cymbals, tambourines, whatever.
I started simple by beginning to experiment with rim clicks. Putting the butt end forward then moving it around to different lugs to see what types of sounds I would get (darker or brighter). Next I did the same exact thing except I changed the length of the stick hanging over the drum. This again produces a vast array of sounds to work with. On top of this, you can turn the stick around (tip hanging over drum) and do the exact same exercise for thousands of more sounds.
Next I placed these different rim clicks into a groove. While doing this I stumbled upon something I have overlooked for years. You can create both muffled and open snare drum sounds with your hand in this position. Why I have never taken the time to be creative with this I have no idea. Start with a simple groove and use your right hand for backbeats (2 + 4). Experiment both with keeping your left hand on and off the drum. This opens up thousands of grooves by just changing which notes are muffled and open. Also, you can actually bring your right hand down onto the left hand drum stick for another backbeat type sound.
Next, I began to play with placing items onto the snare drum. For example, you can put 3 sheets of paper onto the snare head for an older 50’s, 60’s type warm sound. You can place a towel/shirt over the head to get a “thuddy” sound or use gaffing/duct tape in different spots/sizes to take some ring out. Some drummers also use their wallet for the same effect. However, take the time to do each and every one of these and take note of all the nuances that each item does to the drum. This can open up tons of ideas for different sounding snares within a groove. The best part about this is you don’t have to own a million snares!!!!
On top of this you can use different objects/sized sticks to produce different sounds. Some examples of this are using brushes, hot rods, tambourine sticks, anything you can get your hands on to get a unique sound. One of my favorite things to do is use a tambourine on the snare head to get a nice jingle sound with your attack.
Next I was dangerous and turned the snare upside down. This takes a bit of delicate playing but the sound I discovered was awesome. You can get a nice popcorn snare sound just by playing on the resonant head. Just be sure not to play “through” the head or hit the snares. Be delicate and strike the drum so that your stick will rebound off the head. Don’t go for huge rimshots here or you will definitely go through the head and have to get another one 😦
All of these examples and I have left out the easiest variation yet, hitting different spots on the head. This works on either side to. If you hit more towards the center of the drum you get a warm sound. If you hit closer to the rim you will start getting a “pingier” sound. This is the same with rim shots. Along with hitting different places comes leaving the stick in the head or allowing it to rebound. Leaving it in the head will in a sense “silence” the drum as opposed to leaving a wide open attack with a rebounded stroke.
Keep in mind, these aren’t the only things you can do. I put together a video to demonstrate some of these mentioned “experiments.” Let me know what you think.