Beef: Primer on Tuning Drums

Tuning drums requires time, skill and plenty of patience. It is not for the faint of heart, but then again, neither is playing them. There are some steps one must take, as with anything, the more time spent, the more capable you will become at tuning drums. It’s best to use a snare or tom when you’re first starting out. Your best bet is to start with more basic parts of a drum kit, like the snare drum. Once you’ve mastered the snare, you will be able to tune any other piece of a standard drum kit, drums like the tom or bass drum for example.

032510 tuning 1 300x199 Primer on Tuning Drums

Start by removing the tension rod from one side of the drum, this will give you enough play to remove the head and edge of the drum. The drum lead and edge should fit nicely together and not too snug. If they are fit to firm, it will be impossible to tune later, so make sure you get a good fit. Next, tighten the pressure bars so that they are flush against the drum. Again, do not tighten too much as you will end up with a really sharp sounding snare. Now you can go ahead and hit the drum using a drum stick, paying attention to how it sounds. What you’re looking for is something that sounds steady.  Also, if there are any wrinkles in the drum, this is probably the best time to flat them out.

Seating the leader of a drum lets you to retain the pitch the drum makes. Place your palm into the inside of the drum and push, which may require a few tries. Don’t stress, but remember that this is an important step, so make sure you get it right.  Keep tapping the drum to ensure that the sound remains consistent. If the pitch seems off or if there are any flaws on the leader of the drum, then go ahead and re-tighten and redo the steps until the drum pitch sounds correct. You will need to tune the pressure bars in an askew example. Begin with the tension bar closest to you then the following one to be tuned will be over the drum uttermost from you. Proceed with the example to make all inclusive tuning on every tension bar.

Once the above has been completed, go ahead and tap the drum around each tension bar. When they are reliably the same pitch around, then your drum tuning was a success. If you’re still off slightly in some areas, then try adjusting by an 1/8 of an inch at a time. You can also use a drum key, which is an economical apparatus to buy and is utilized to tighten and tune drums. Using this key makes things a lot easier in the long run.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. Easy, right? Repeat the above steps as much as you want across all drums in your drum kit to have a great sounding set of drums to play on!


Written by Ian

June 23rd, 2014

The Latest: Apocalypse Now – A Journey Back into the Heart of Darkness of the Greatest War Film Ever Made on Blu-Ray

“My film is not a movie, it’s not a film about Vietnam, it IS Vietnam”, the words spoken by visionary director Francis Ford Coppola when discussing his tortured masterpiece ‘Apocalypse Now’. There’s very little to say that hasn’t already been said about his meditative take on Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart Of Darkness,’ but whilst most reviews tend to focus on the movie’s twisted narrative, unforgettable characters and dynamic cinematography, few focus on the revolutionary sound design. Not only did the film utilise its soundtrack almost as an extra character (who can forget the opening shots set to ‘This is the End’ by ‘The Doors’ or the iconic use of ‘Flight of the Valkyries’?), but the sound effects were genuinely ahead of their time. For example, take the opening scene, where the deafening whir of a helicopter effortlessly morphs into the gentle hum of a ceiling fan. It’s a wonderful moment in cinema that really pops with a set a decent surround sound home cinema speakers and a well-balanced sub-woofer.

Of course, just because the sound is impeccable does not mean the visuals are any less striking and now that it’s available on high-definition Blu-Ray, there has never been a better time to experience Apocalypse Now. In the 3 disk special edition, you’re treated to every iteration of the film, as well as all the extras you could possibly wish for. The 1st disk, of course contains the movie itself in its two forms, re-mastered for the first time in 1080p by Coppola’s in house team.

The original theatrical cut and the redux differ largely in that the redux involves a whole act which was originally cut from the film where Captain Willard’s boat happens upon a French plantation as well as a few other minor scene restorations. Having watched both versions I can honestly say the act was cut with good reason and the original cut remains the definitive article. Many might argue, but personally that’s my opinion and I’m sticking by it. There are other scenes added in the redux (an additional battle scene in the early section of the film and a quite interesting scene involving Colonel Kurtz reading a ‘Time Magazine’ article on the war) that add to the film’s desolate atmosphere, but an extra 50 minute run-time seems rather frivolous as no truly vital scenes were cut first time round. There is supposedly a cut of the film, which lasts nearly 5 hours, personally as much as I love the film I can’t imagine ever wanting to sit through it for entertainment purposes (though film scholars would no doubt be fascinated).

Regardless of which version you prefer though, both look fantastic in high definition. It’s always been a dark film and thusly quite hard to watch on home cinema systems, but the clarity of the high definition Blu-Ray has cleaned up the murkiness like never before. The sound on too snaps with an extra dimensional heft and although the vast features might not be as highly defined, they are still leagues ahead of the same features on my DVD copy of the film.

The film itself (for those few unfamiliar) revolves around Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard, who is tasked with sailing into the Cambodian jungle to assassinate the crazed Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), once a highly decorated special forces agent who has gone renegade, lording over a tribe of Cambodian native savages as a god and conducting his own operations against the U.S Military. To extrapolate on the rest would be pointless as those familiar with the story won’t want to hear it and those unfamiliar are best left to discover the films wonders themselves.

The real find here is the 2nd and 3rd disks. The 2nd disk includes a new, interesting conversation between star Sheen and Coppola as well as a bevy of special features (more than 300 minutes worth) detailing all facets of the films troubled production. There are also a selection of deleted scenes, the most interesting of which (the grim ‘Monkey Sampan’ scene) Coppola still regrets leaving out of the film. The 3rd disk meanwhile is given over to a riveting, feature length documentary that deserves serious recognition.

The ‘Hearts Of Darkness’ feature is possibly one of the best reasons to pick up this fresh edition, it’s a riveting case study of the films development which is at times as gripping as the film itself. In Coppola’s own words, it was shot much like the war itself, they had “too much money, too much equipment and little by little they all went insane” and the period is documented with stunning clarity and humble poise by Ford’s wife Eleanor. The story of the film is quite fascinating, it was originally taken on by Orson Welles in 1939 who abandoned the film due to budgetary worries to shoot Citizen Kane (fitting how prophetic these worries turned out to be) and Coppola picked the story up in the 70′s as one of the first films to be shot under his new Zoetrope banner after George Lucas failed to make the film in the late 60′s (due largely to the fact studios assumed the filmmakers wouldn’t make it through the shoot alive). The film was transposed to the midst of the Vietnam war (a timely subject at that time) and the gruelling shoot drove Coppola almost to the brink of insanity, to the extent that he almost considered taking his own life. The parallels drawn between Willard and Coppola are shockingly apt and go some way into revealing just why Apocalypse Now remains such an effective film. It was a film which now only examined a man’s descent into himself, it was shot by a man going through the very same inner turmoil and as such the documentary makes for fascinating viewing whether you’re a fan of the film or not.

I could quite happily write an essay on Apocalypse Now (and I wouldn’t be the first) but in what little room I have here all I can suggest is that those of you reading who have yet to witness this monumental piece of history have no excuse not to pick up the definitive copy. Just make sure you have the home cinema setup to support the true majesty of Coppola’s vision. If you have to invest in a new pair of home cinema speakers and a televisual upgrade, then so be it!


Written by Ian

June 11th, 2014

The Latest: Ponto Gira (Original Mamba Mix)

This mix incorporates the sounds of Northeastern Brazilian macumba - a percussion-heavy music derived from Afro-Brazilian religious practices – into a newer idiom more related to contemporary popular music. The track it’s based on is Ulisses Lucas’s 1979 single “Gira Gira .”


Written by Jimmy

March 17th, 2014

Type: The Latest

The Latest: Multimedia in digital publishing: Why reading isn’t just reading any more

Digital publishing is one of the success stories of the internet. Using electronic media to create and distribute texts that can be read on a variety of proprietary hand-held e-readers as well as on PCs, tablets and smartphones has proved popular with readers of all kinds of books. It is easy to understand why. Digital publishing has made it possible to store hundreds or even thousands of texts either remotely or on the device itself and for readers to access those texts with one click. However, there is more to digital publishing than documents containing text. Thanks to the variety of multimedia technologies which can be combined together, there are a host of possibilities for delivering content in compelling and creative ways.
product 300x280 Multimedia in digital publishing: Why reading isnt just reading any more

Adding value to an eBook

For eBook creators who wish to enhance their content with the use of multimedia, one technology which has an obvious value is that of text to speech software. For well over a decade, improvements in text to speech software have continued apace and today the best implementations of text to speech technology can deliver some impressively natural sounding readings. Movie clips can also be used to enhance the value of an e-text as can interactive features such as quizzes.

A new set of skills

Digital publishing has made it possible for eBooks to be delivered more quickly than traditionally published books. Moreover, digital publishing has made it possible for the content of those eBooks to be updated when required, whether to add new information to the text or to amend any mistakes in an earlier version. However, while it may be simpler to create a simple eBook than a traditional printed book, creating an e-text which incorporates multimedia resources is another matter entirely. The use of multimedia resources within the context of e-publishing means there is a demand for skills in such as areas as markup languages and the ability to optimise texts for different reading devices, which traditional book designers do not have. As well as the need for such valuable skills as the ability to handle HTML, XML and cascading style sheets (CSS) for the creation of digital texts, eBook designers may also be required to embed sound files, interactive software or video clips into the text.

While most people today associate digital publishing with eBooks that can be downloaded from online retailers or other web sources, by no means all digitally published content is offered online. For instance, there are also books, particularly reference books, such as dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as some academic and educational texts which are delivered on CD or DVD. As educational tools, these reference books can particularly benefit from the use of audio and video. In a dictionary, for example, multimedia could be used to supply the pronunciation of unfamiliar words and perhaps also to supply examples of their use in a sentence. In an encyclopedia, on the other hand, a helpful use of multimedia resources might be to incorporate short films which supplement and expand on the information delivered in the text or sound files which provide samples of famous musical works.


Written by Ian

March 14th, 2014

The Latest: Japanese Wallpaper – “Breathe In” (feat. Wafia) remix; DJ21azy

 Japanese Wallpaper   Breathe In (feat. Wafia) remix; DJ21azy

Daktyl and DJ21azy are two of my favorite producers of contemporary remixes. These two tracks give you a good sense of what they’re putting out these days.


Written by Jimmy

March 10th, 2014

Type: The Latest

The Latest: Amy Stroup – Back Burner (Super Duper Remix)

 Amy Stroup   Back Burner (Super Duper Remix)

Super Duper lends a laid-back trap feel to Amy Stroup’s electropop release “Back Burner” on this one. Stroup, who has a hint of Ellie Goulding in her style of vocal presentation and songwriting, fits in well with what Super Duper lends her. Perhaps we’ll see more collaborations in the future?


Written by Jimmy

March 6th, 2014

Type: The Latest

The Latest: Owiny Sigoma Band – “Yukimwi” (Blludd Relations Mix)

 Owiny Sigoma Band   Yukimwi (Blludd Relations Mix)

I’ve already listened to Blludd Relations’s shoegaze / electropop remix of Owiny Sigoma Band’s great track “Yukimwi” a few times today already. It’s bringing me to a place free of polar vortexes – where the temperature gets above freezing and one has the energy to go out dancing. On a day like today, that’s a blessing.


Written by Jimmy

February 27th, 2014

Type: The Latest

Beef: Music for the Soul?

When it comes to music, you might listen to only one genre, or you might have several different types of music you listen to on a regular basis. Music often soothes the soul, and there are many ways you can use music in your life. From having something to listen to in the car to using songs in a class that you might teach, you can find new music at a variety of places.

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The Internet is, of course, one of the best places to get new music. There are usually variations of the same song that you can download to a computer or even transfer to a disc. Search retail stores for discounts on discs so that you can build your music library.

If you exercise, then you can use music to give you more energy. You can utilize songs that teach a subject in a classroom, especially with younger children. Music can be added to presentations to give background sounds so that people are not simply listening to someone talk or watching a presentation with words. The song choice is important as it is a reflection of you, and it is also a reflection of the information that you want to portray with the song.


Written by Ian

February 26th, 2014