Tag Archives: Drums

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Pine 10 inch drum

03.03.2017 – Pine and Cedar drums

I’ve been making more and more drums over the winter – I have 7 or 8 now under my belt.  I’m making them because I want to become great at making them – tone, playability, looks, pitch, toughness, beauty, record-ability – all of that – but also because I am doing R&D for Hexagon Craftworks, trying to ramp up to being able to sell a very nice set of items that people will love having in their set of instruments.  I also enjoy the creative process of doing it.  I have made a few improvements with these two, and every time I do one, it gets better.

P I N E   D E C A G O N   D R U M

First, I made a pine-based decagon with 10 sides.  It’s about 10″ wide by 11″ deep.  I have always loved the knots and grain of pine, and it’s look when it’s stained dark.  Before stain, the drum shell was almost white!  Very light.  Pine gets “fluffy”, too – it takes stain deeply and I had to sand the hell out of it, with 60, 150, up to 400, and it came out great!  The reddish stain sank in and gave it a super-awesome look after the clear.

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Pine 10 inch drum

The tone of this drum has the best tone from any drum I have made so far!  And, it’s light.  Maybe the shell resonates more?  I don’t know.  An oak drum that has half the dimensions still weighs twice as much as this (roughly).  The oak ones have their own kind of tone, but this one just came out great with a thicker goat skin.

As I said, the wood is softer, and that comes with advantages and disadvantages.  The advantage is that it’s easy to sculpt, and part of the disadvantage is that… it’s easy to sculpt!  Make one mistake trying to carve that logo in there and it’s very hard to overcome, so I had to be extremely careful carving detail this wood.  But, using the router and sanders to shape it was a great experience.

C E D A R   D E C A G O N   D R U M

I made another 10-sided drum from cedar, but this time I went crazy and made the width 4″ and gave it a foot height.  This thing “pops”!  I love this drum, too!  An added benefit with this one is that it just matches my arm length with my fingers on the head, so I can get my upper arm behind the drum and use it to bend the pitch when I need to without using an extra hand – nice advantage.

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Cedar 4 inch drum

The wood is of course darker in color so the added stain on top makes it darker than the reference.  I used a charcoal-like stain on this one and it came out great!  I did the straps differently on this one and I really like it.  It’s a better “system” for keeping the skin tight, plus managing the exposed strap.  I will do this more.

Now I know what seems to be the limit of a medium-thickness head – I’d say about a 4-inch diameter.  I think it would have been better to use a lighter gauge head on it as the tone is a bit muted, but still has some good overtones – actually probably pretty useful for mic’ing it up, but I do enjoy a small drum that is rather spilling out with higher harmonics.  I also made the bearing edge more rounded, so that affects it.  It still sounds really good and unique and I love playing it.

I N   T H E   E N D

After it’s all said and done, these drums are my favorites, and they’ve gotten great response from the initial groups I have shown them to – from both players and collectors, and including general art and music enthusiasts.  I try to get the most honest feedback from people as possible to help me identify what people are liking and what they would like to see better.  That’s for the market research, but I also just take them to jam sessions to actually play and have fun, as well. 🙂

Brad Ormand - Hexagon Craftworks Drum Clamps

I have a few more drums I’ll do in March, one with more exotic wood, one with a thinner oak, and another with pine.  And, I’d love to do one with birch!  I’ll do some lighter tints and experiment with mixing paint with some of the stain to get a vingette effect around the borders.  Also, I will do at least one with more carving detail around the sides, like a plant sprouting out or hanging from the top.  And, there’s even the idea of making a drum from a geometric platonic solid – that would be super awesome cool!  Still working on that one…  Lots of ideas, I just gotta keep on making and making!

Native Stave Drum 8 Inch Rawhide

11.25.2016 – New Hand Drums

I’ve been making drums in anticipation of releasing a few lines of instruments through Hexagon Craftworks.  I’m doing a little R&D, making different kinds and proving different techniques.  I’ve built 5 so far and modified a few more that I had built in the past, and I have several upcoming.

I used to work in a drum shop and I’ve been a drummer since school, so making them to play them is a good combination – a great way to spend my time and fulfilling as well.  My academic background is in both audio and computer engineering, so that also helps me tune the sound because afterwards, I can record them to the machine and analyze what sound properties each building technique has produced, and where to go from there.

The goal for me now is to have 10 or so varying kinds that I can take out with me and have musicians play them, collectors look at them and hold them and to see what people like or don’t like about them, in general.  Of course, my vote counts as well.  I’ll be seeing what features I consistently like in them.  Then, once I have the feedback, I can go on to produce more of the drums and features that make the most sense to do.

Hopefully, I’ll be releasing this line of drums to my web store ( https://www.hexagoncraftworks.com ) sometime during the Spring of 2017.  I also have other things I’m making to sell in the store so I will have to determine priorities at the time, such as the Snub Dodecahedron model and the wood tools.

Native Stave Drum 18 Inch Rawhide

 

This one (above) is a big one – an 18″ hexadecagonal stave drum made out of oak.  It’s got a thick cow rawhide head.  The properties, of course, change with moisture and temperature, but at about 75 degrees F and 50% humidity (comfortable indoors), it’s fundamental tone is somewhere around 38Hertz, with a loud overtone around 100Hz.  Perfect little boom and punch combo.

 

Native Stave Drum 10 Inch Rawhide

This next one is about 10″ in diameter and it started out as an octagon.  It’s also made out of oak.  The thin rawhide is very transparent and was a pleasure to work with.  I really like the sound of it, too.  It’s got lots of overtones and resonance.

Native Stave Drum 8 Inch Rawhide

And, this one is another oak drum (I love working with oak, but have some made out of cedar and pine, as well).  It’s smaller – about 8 inches OD and is rounded octagonal as well.  It’s got a very high, tight, pingy tone – perfect for a slap or backbeat with ghost notes.  Also, it has a carved logo right in the front, and I took some creative liberties with the lacing and forming.

I have a few more not shown on this post, but these 3 are my finest examples.  All in all, they were all made from hardwood lumber that I cut and processed, and I’m still refining my methodologies, but I have a solid hold on the techniques I’ve used to make these.  After a few more, I’ll have decided on a good base set of techniques to call my “style”.

There were a few challenges along the way – cutting and forming wet wood, getting the router to stay in place and not damage the sides when it binds, the notches becoming to small to twist the leather lace around, sanding across the grain, ripping various angles along a long piece, and of course, heads tearing and popping from excessive tension.  I got those worked out and look forward to doing this again!

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

09.14.2015 – The Music Journey

So, my album “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” was released this month on the 4th.  I wrote the songs, played the parts, sang, recorded, produced, edited, mixed, and mastered it.  And, now I have released what I made to the public.  I’m both excited and relieved!  Now, I can mature my style and move on to the next batch of songs.  I have lots of new things planned!

It’s out in all major outlets – iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, XBox Store, and a lot of other places.

Here it is on iTunes  &  Google Play  &  Amazon :

==================================================

It’s out for sale and stream, but it’s also simply a statement that “I’m out here, too” and “I want to have fun with music, too, and engage in business with it, too“.  And, I’ve been receiving some attention for it from players in the industry.  It helps to put me in place to do more and more and more of it.  And, I’ll only get better and better at it because I’m determined to do so and I just work all the time.

Brad Ormand Album on Google Play

This one was far better-sounding and more balanced than my last, and the product gets better with each release.  My plans are to keep continuing to release every year or so until I am coming up with hit records every time with Grammy potential.  I may or may not be capable, in the end, we’ll see, but I’m sure going to try. 🙂  I mean, if you examine a successful entrepreneur’s or artist’s or businessman’s early work, it was likely not his defining work.  But, when they do succeed in a big way, the lessons and potential came from practice and those earlier experiences and their grit.

I’m already inspired by other July and August releases, such as from Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers, Astralwerks, and Skrillex’s labels that have forged my image of what better, more intricate touches the next album can contain.  I’m not saying the album I released this month is not strong work, because it is, but I am saying that I have even better-sounding stuff coming through the pipe, which is why I am somewhat relieved – it’s because now, I get to switch over to work on the new ones and prepare them for massiveness!  I’m going to keep doing this.

Brad Ormand Album on iTunes

In 2013, I completely re-vamped my production and engineering style.  I went back to basics and learned other ways to do many things, and then combined it with what I was already good at.  The process and practice paid off.  Now, in 2015, I am at that platform again.  I have dug deep into the interworkings of modern vocal synths and more advanced synth parameter automation with Pro Tools in the last few months, which was my 2015 goal – to do more with synthetic harmonics using formants and organic, voicebox sounds – both beautiful AND retched!  And, I can’t wait to take it to its depths in the next few months.  Also, I have a much better narrative and storytelling sense now, and I have an idea how I can improve my mastering approach.  I have so many ideas for sonic production that I can hardly stand it – from heavy songs to really chill, beautiful, warm songs.  A lot of good stuff is coming, I truly believe.

Anyway, I’m excited about Spirit of Adventure because it contains a few gems, some great choruses, and some powerful sub bass and kick drums (that I’m proud of) – all of that can garner attention and be licensed for broadcast, sustaining this.  I want this business to fund my writing and production process (and each upcoming album), and so the engine goes on and on, etc…  That’s all I ask.

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

All this is part of my journey as a music producer.  The album had varied genres, and it can stand for what many things I am capable of doing up to 2015, my versatility.  I am an unknown artist, right now, but this album at least puts me on the map so that my next one comes through with people already paying attention.  I’m open for business, tho.

I’m dead set on making top-quality songs – songs that evoke real emotion and spread love and dazzle you and make you excited about life!  And, I already know where to go from here.

 

Spirit of Adventure - Playlist - Brad Ormand

08.25.2015 – My music will be released!

I have been working on music every available moment that I have, trying to make a deadline to release on September 4th, 2015!  Of course, the songs have been close to ready for a long time, but I’m just tidying up the production touches around the landscape, here and there.  Still, there are a million little things that I’d like to have solid.

It’s gonna be good.  I really have something exciting to share this time!  I have decided on a tentative mastering order, but I’m still seeing where Tonight, I and Doing Fine will go….  The songs are my best effort… ever!  They are more than I could’ve ever dreamed of, but I know my skills are actively growing and I have new ideas all the time, so even better music is to come.  Blood, sweat, and tears went into the production of this.   This one marks 2015.

Spirit of Adventure - Playlist - Brad Ormand

There’s so much left to do.  But, I am determined to get this music out to all avenues and to do it properly – the writing and recording work is done, just the lingering mix and master issues are left.  These songs mean a lot to me and have been re-worked to the bone, over and over, to get just the right aspect to them, over 2 years.  From the kicks to the hats to the vox to the production touches – everything paid attention to, time and time again – practicing parts relentlessly and overdubbing – listening countless times with maximum discretion and taking notes – listening on the phone, the tv system, the truck, in the studio…  Now, it’s time to set them free.  And, as with every album I release, it marks the time to start new music.

This one’s called: “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” .

May I have good luck with this album and may it bring with it the opportunity to make much, much more!

 

Brad Ormand Music 2015 07 17

07.17.2015 – I Love You

I put up a new version of “I Love You” this evening after working on it for a little bit, cleaning up the vox and adding a nice little melody.   I wanted to make the sub-bass kick hard with the bass drum, so I kind of “blended” the two with some cutting EQ for some tight interlacing.  There’s a lot of sub there, tied to the kick, and I want the typical car system driver to feel the bump in their chest and throat – and to feel the sub in their armrest, so I added a few freqs at different q’s to the kick to really cut through – like what an 6″ or 8″ sub is good for.  And, as for the sub, I decreased the 60 to 90 and accentuated the 30 and a half and 40 – like what a 12″ or 15″ would be good at.  Big bass!  But, with a tight kick – as I did in “What You Lookin’ For?”.  It really helps the chorus feel fat, too.

I also added a little melody line in a high synth hollow triangle sound that mirrors and accentuates the vocals pretty good.  It’s a bit funky, too – couldn’t help it.  Love that kind of stuff.  I have recorded these vocals like…  about 8 times to get the right feel.  Bout time it started to come together!

Also, I cut some parts out completely – a few parts that I sang that sounded really exotic and has good potential for dance.  While I’m sad about not using them in this song, I just can’t justify it for this song’s continuity.  It’s the nature of the biz.  I’ll revisit them later for a more appropriate song to tie them with.

Brad Ormand Music 2015 07 17

And, lastly, the lead vocals needed a lot of tenderizing.  Like, I cut a lot of 2k-ish and took some 500 hertz honk out of them.  I increased around 8k and made them sizzle a bit, along with a little more doubling – on top of all the other past EQ.  I increased the level of the second harmony for a bit of solidarity and the whole stem is sounding pretty good.  I’m surprised, actually.  I never thought I could *really* get this cut to work.  But, it’s turning out ok.

The cymbals on the chorus I left pretty much as they were.  I played two takes of sticks on a bell of a 16″ Zildjian A from, like 1976 (or something) – it’s a really old school cymbal with the marks rubbed off that I hand-picked when it came in used to a drum shop I used to work at.  I used to go over there and test crashes for a prime non-standard-sounding candidate, and this is my favorite one.  I hardly gigged with it since I wanted to preserve it for the studio.  It’s bad, man.

Ok, that’s it.  I’m really excited about this song.  I think it has some good potential for the market, and well…  I really like listening to it – That’s the main part of all my songs – if I keep listening 🙂  Take care.

9 Inch Log Drum - whole - Brad Ormand

06.14.2015 – Wood Drum, Mac Pro & WWDC

Every day after work this week, I carved just a little bit more out of the log for the large drum (about 9″) and finally finished it.  I used my wood mallet and 1-inch chisel for most of it, but I drilled some pilot holes with a 5/8’s bit, several times, on both sides to give me some tension relief so I wouldn’t just crack the outer shell as I hit it.  I had figured that I’d go to the hardware store to get a super long and fat bit later, but I was enjoying the chiseling, and I had already core’d it.

9 Inch Log Drum - whole - Brad Ormand

9 Inch Log Drum - cored - Brad Ormand

I set a flat rim up top, and sanded it down.  I went ahead and nailed a piece of mylar to the top opening and started seeing how it would sound.  It sounds awesome!  Like a real drum would.  I noticed that I was getting a lot of sub frequencies, too – like 30 to 50 hertz out of it.

Of course, the head isn’t tensioned really tightly like you could get with a commercial drum, but for now, I’d like to record some sounds off of it while it sounds low.  Earlier, I mentioned that I’d make a rim and lug system for it, but I didn’t have any large enough stock to go around it, and I wanted to just vibe with it and play it.  I think I’ll build a decagon rim (with 10 sides) or something like that to tension heads in the future, with some metal lugs bolted to the shell as I get a few more built.

(The pic was taken after a few days, and it got pret-ty flappy.  Moisture changes, etc.  on to plan B)

9 Inch Log Drum - temp head - Brad Ormand

And in other news…  my Mac Pro died again!  Welll..  actually either the display or the graphics card did.  Just in time for the Apple WWDC show!  It’s okay.  I looked at the diagnostic LEDs on the motherboard and they checked out – except when the display shuts down, the comp goes to standby..  Hmmm. Or maybe the comp goes to standby instantly and that’s what makes the display shut off.   I pulled the graphics card and reseated it,  I reset the PRAM, checked voltage on the backup batt, and reset the SMC.  Still nothing.

So, the next thing I’ll try is to rule out the display hardware itself.  This week, I’ll get some adapters to hook up to the female DVI ports on the graphics card and see if I can get any other monitor rolling.  I’m suspecting that the graphics card is fine, but that my monitor power supply blew.  Yeah, I’ve had that one since 2003.  so, yah – I just kept recycling it because it’s big and 1920 pix across, and new ones like that are expensive…  But, might be time.  I’ll test and find out.

And then…  The WWDC15 Apple developer conference was this week.  I spent a lot of time watching it.  I have an XCode project set up and waiting for me to start rendering objects to the screen.  I did a lot of Sprite Kit, SceneKit and Metal API research.  However, my 3D modeling package and toolkit is on my Mac Pro!  …So, gotta wait for the fix, there.  I have been brainstorming game ideas and have written and drawn out a few concepts.  I do love geometry and that kind of stuff, and I don’t do as much graphics programming as I did in the old days (5 years ago, etc).  So…  I’d really like to try to commit to some graphical software project and finish it and publish it.  I think I can do it, and the project log is helping me see where the bottlenecks are.

 

Brad Ormand - Building Wood Mallet

06.05.2015 – Woodworking & Drum

So, I took care of cutting the fallen tree down in my yard from the storm.  There’s plenty of wood to work with, and I made some things with it. I did a woodworking mallet for chisels, and a drum.  It was awesome fun.  I’m getting to know the anatomy of Cedar (or Ashe Juniper) pretty well – and, it smells wonderful!  The wood is fresh and green, and although, for some things, I could better use it dried, I’m trying things right now while it’s green, and I’ll learn the lessons from it, directly.

Brad Ormand - Fallen Tree Progress

First, I wanted to build a drum.  But, I needed chisels and I got some new solid chisels to work with – I only had some blunt ones that had chips and heavy use.  Also, I only had steel hammers, and I wanted to hit them with a heavy wood mallet to not mar them up.  So, I built the hammer first, and then the drum, over the weekend.  If I had a lathe, I’d utilize it, but actually I’d like to hold off on that for now, and keep doing stuff by hand until I get the basics down.  Plus, it’s really fulfilling.  I want to record a song later using only instruments from this tree.  Jus’ Cuz.

Wood Mallet:

Brad Ormand - Building Wood Mallet

I have some inner bark that I kept intact that I am going to use as a veneer, and perhaps even a drum head / playing surface.  I have those drying out under weight on the patio…  Also, I talked to my brother about getting some rawhide to use as well.  But, I ended up buying some mylar sheets from the local hobby store, for now.  I used to work at a drum shop (with a drum factory next door), so I have lots of real, practical experience with drum stuff.  I’ll do a few different sizes and types of drums, and then see where it takes me. 🙂

Drum:

Brad Ormand - Using Mallet to Chisel Drum

The one I made this weekend was a small one, roughly a 4″ hollow.  At first, I put some dry 1/4″ plywood over the top of it with silicone, and well, it’s wasn’t very resonant at all…  at ALL. 🙁   It sounded more like a woodblock than a drum.  It’d be a good addition to a set, but not for a drum sound, and that’s really what I wanna make – a responsive hand or stick drum that has a bit of woooof to it.  Then, later, I made an edge and nailed on some mylar.  Much better!

Now, as I go along, I’m cutting another piece off the (fallen) tree this week (this time 8″), and I’ll make a little rim system for it (out of the same tree) to secure it nice and tight.  Should be a fun project.

All-in-all, I’m really feeling great doing this kind of work.  It’s stress-free, natural, challenging, and it’s real, man work.  After I finish this one, I’ll move on to the table…  But, I revolve from woodworking to software projects and research, to working on music, to electrical stuff, to painting – all at the same time.  And, when I get good updates, I post it here.  But, that’s the thing, everything is working in concert with each other by fulfilling a certain kind of creative interest with each discipline, by which I get ideas for the other stuff as I get my mind directly off of it, and so on.  Ok, until next time…