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View Full Version : Drum + Rain = bad?



intheblue25
10-08-2010, 10:48 AM
I have a friend who's son is a musician for our unit, when they think it is going to rain they will not show up to an event, I was trying to convince him otherwise because I always see kids with their stuff in the elements. Does anybody know for a fact if there are any problems with actually having ones drum out in the rain or elements?

joe_korber
10-08-2010, 11:26 AM
I have a friend who's son is a musician for our unit, when they think it is going to rain they will not show up to an event, I was trying to convince him otherwise because I always see kids with their stuff in the elements. Does anybody know for a fact if there are any problems with actually having ones drum out in the rain or elements?

it can be a problem if the drum heads are calf skin

joe korber

Ross L. Lamoreaux
10-08-2010, 02:08 PM
For the severeal thousand drummers on both sides of the late unpleasantness, this was a real problem. They could always order new drums or have them fixed, but for the modern world where this comes out of our pockets, I can see the reluctance. This can all be fixed with prior planning by making/procuring an oilcloth bag , or at the very least an extra gumblanket and some line or rope. This method has worked well for many of the folks I know in field music.

Spinster
10-08-2010, 02:46 PM
It depends entirely on what sort of intestinal fortitude is trained into said young drummers.

Several years ago, in a driving rain, I saw a young man, wet to the bone, peeping forlornly into the half open flaps of my tent as I came to close them. Shortly, the commander of the Western Brigade came with a request:

"The drummer boys have been taught that their gum blankets are to shelter their drums, not them. " And proceeded to request shelter for the drums for the night

I slept that night with a pyramid of skin-head drums in my tent--fearful that I would knock them over. The next morning they marched out in good order, flags flying and drums at a sharp cadence.

Hardtack Herring
10-11-2010, 04:18 PM
Of course rain will damage an authentic reproduction drum. It will go very flat and the calfskin head will rip with the tap of a stick. The hemp rope or linen rope will stretch causing the drum to go flat.

One method to protect the head from a light rain is to oil it. The water will bead up and the head will be protected.

Every morning our drummers place their drums near the fire (rain or shine) to dry out the moisture from the heads. This works very quickly but do not place the drum to close to the fire.

Most re-enactors play on drums with fyberskin aka plastic heads and synthetic rope. You can play one of these drums all day long in a hurricane if you wish. Do not place a drum with fyberskin heads close to a fire!

On another note.... Drums with fyberskin heads sound nothing at all like a drum from the civil war. Skin heads can be found on the internet for around 15 bucks each. At this price which is less than a fiberskin head there is no reason at all why people should be playing on plastic drum heads at Civil War events.

As pointed out earlier in this thread.... A good rubber ground cloth is essential for any drummer to have in their kit.

flattop32355
10-13-2010, 08:59 AM
The most frustrated and angry I have ever seen my son (then age 14) at a reenactment was at Buffington Island, Ohio some years ago. He had insisted on calfskin drum heads for his impression. He was the only drummer present, and ready to do his job.

The weather was extremely humid, with rain showers coming every ten to twenty minutes. As he would drum, the sound would go from "Boom, boom, boom" to "Bap, bap, bap" to "Dup, dup, dup". Repeatedly, he'd dry the heads at the fire, only to have it rain again, the humidity rise, and all his efforts for naught.

To preserve his sanity, we switch to the synthetic heads. He wasn't happy about it, but didn't want his ability to do his job compromised by the weather.

33rdaladrummer
10-13-2010, 03:19 PM
I suppose it's like the choices everyone makes in this hobby: do you go for what's most realistic or what's most convenient? A crisp sounding snare drum in humid or rainy weather isn't realistic because a snare drum with skin heads will sound more like a bass drum or a wet blanket depending on the amount of moisture. On the other hand, spending a weekend unable to drum because of the weather isn't every drummer's idea of a good time.

But either way you look at it, an anachronism is an anachronism. Plastic performs and sounds like plastic. To get it to respond to the sticks you have to crank up the tension on the ropes to a point that the drum really has a high-pitched ring, which drummers have no choice but to deaden with a cloth muffler (also an anachronism).

Calfskin performs like the natural material it is. It has a nice warm sound on a clear sunny day, and you get a huge sound out of a few or more unmuffled skin headed drums, especially with a nice unmuffled bass. This sound will carry for miles. But the calfskin really sops up the moisture just like a chamois, so on a rainy day you just don't play just like they didn't 150 years ago. If it's just a light sprinkle a little mink oil and a camp fire are very handy. Like Paul mentioned we dry out the drums by the fire in the mornings anyway to get the morning dew that the drums have sopped up to evaporate.

Other advantages of skin heads are you break less sticks and it's easier on the wrists.

Will Chappell