By Siphesihle Msomi

Jonathan Heidorn is an interesting young musician from Hannover, Germany.  I sat down with him to speak about his unavoidable interest to the drum kit as he puts it: “I was trained as a musician who plays the trumpet.  This started when I was very young performing with a very large orchestra at the school called Ratsban with brass instruments, percussions and various other instruments.  After sometime playing other instruments are developed a love for the rum instrument.  This love has been a long term one as it has taken considerable time to gather this full kit I now possess”

Drumkits come in many forms…to indicate the size of a kit, you should count the amount of drums.
Most drummers start playing on a 5-piece standard kit:

  • A bass drum (usually with a diameter of 22 inch) with a pedal
  • A snare drum (14 inch)
  • A tom (12 inch)
  • A tom (14 inch)
  • A standing tom (16 inch)
  • A hihat
  • A crash cymbal
  • A ride cymbal

A drum kit is made out of drum head that is stretched over a shell and struck directly with drumsticks.  There is usually a resonance head that is placed on the underside of the drum and is relatively low pitched.  Click on this link to find out how you can tune your drum-kit: http://pearldrum.com/media/education/drum-tuning.pdf

Every drummer will adapt this kit throughout the years. Some really create their own drum mountain, while others are trying to minimize their kit as much as possible. Drummers will also experiment with the sizes of their drums and the material of which the snare drum is made. The same applies to the cymbals. Lots of drummers also experiment with attaching percussion instruments (wood blocks, cow bells and chimes) to their kit or electronic drum pads.

I then ask the young man about the kind of sound, tuning and genre that he loves to play on drums.  I pose this question knowing how illogical musicians generally find the questions about genres.
“With drums its different because for rock it is better to have a lower pitch and a high pitch for Hip Hop.  Each drum has to produce the same sound and its length in order to have a sense of balance and continuity in the sound.  Balancing may also be more problematic if you are you different brands of drums to create on drum-kit.  In addition, if you have a big drum-kit like mine you have a variety of different pieces of the drum-kit therefore you can tune them differently for variety if you are expecting a change of genres on set.  Regarding the type of genres, I basically love playing the drums so I like to play a certain genre because of the mood that I am in e.g when I am angry I like to play rock and release all energies that are trapped in my body and when I feel like a challenge, I play hip hop on drums because its sometimes unpredictable an you have to make a sudden stop after a good rhythm”

If you know you will feel the need to experiment it is important to buy a kit of a well-known brand. Most of the better brands guarantee that they will be around for years to supply you with new parts that will fit exactly into your basic kit. If you prefer, there are lots of cheap parts for sale, but it is nicer to work with original parts.

Popular brands are Tama, Pearl, Premier, Yamaha, Sonor, Ludwig, Gretsch and Drum Workshop (DW). Popular cymbals are Zildjian, Sabian and Paiste. Expect to pay about R15,000.00 for a complete kit. A second hand set would cost you about half of this.

The sound of the drumkit will be dependent in which type of space you will play it. This makes it difficult to assess to way it sounds from the music shop or even from your house. Ideally you will try a few different kits in the rehearsal space with your band, but unfortunately this is not always possible.

In pop music electronic music is starting to play a more and more important role. In studio often the role of the drummer is taken over by a drum computer. To create those sounds on stage more and more drummers combine  their acoustic kit with electronic versions.

The advent of drums has grown into the technological sphere with electronic and music producing software.  Lately such software has a virtual drum-kit and the cursor serves as a drumstick.  Can this be a definite substitute to live recordings?
“No it can’t because of the human element.  Every time you hit the drum it is not the same as when you do it again, that is what make live music like jazz to be great and timeless whereas the loop that you may find on the software program will be too perfect almost an will lose that of jazz.”

Other musicians have found an alternative to buying a drum-kit by just downloading one from such sites: http://www.freedrumkits.net/drum-kits.  What are the types of software you recommend for producing quality music electronically?
“I like to use Logic Pro, and I am the kind of person that wants to spend a lot of time with the program so that I can master it rather than to work with many and know less of each than required”

In closing, all musicians have to earn a living, can you share the pro’s and con’s of getting a drum-kit and focusing on software technology to make music?
“I have been a session player for rock music recordings and I have also played drums for a theatre play.  On both instances I can say that if you as a drummer are interested in playing live music then you must invest on a drum-kit but if you would like to start a hip hop record studio then invest of the right digital equipment and make the best of it all."



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