How to record gallows/firing squad press roll

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Professor T
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How to record gallows/firing squad press roll

Post by Professor T » Mon Dec 27, 2010 8:55 pm

For our upcoming album, I need a section of a song to have a gallows or sort of colonial "ready, aim, fire" snare buzz roll. My first attempt was to do one ribbon room mic and make three passes at it with the drummer in a different location for each take (so it sounds like more of a drum corp.) The drummer set the snare tension really low, so the snares were super rattle-y. The result: it sounds like rain.

Can you guys give me some tips on this? Should the snare be tight or loose? Should I just close mic the bottom? Anything else?

Last edited by Professor T on Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by CurtZHP » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:04 pm

Didn't drums used by drum corps of the era have a much deeper shell than a standard snare drum? Not sure if this could be done, but try fitting snare heads, snares, etc. to a rack tom or floor tom shell.

Come to think of it, I don't think those drums had snares in the first place.

Of course, I could be talking out my ass, too.
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Post by weatherbox » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:47 pm

actually, just read what he wrote below.
Last edited by weatherbox on Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by The Scum » Mon Dec 27, 2010 9:52 pm

Most of the vintage sound comes from having the correct knots tied in the drag rope. For the French revolution sound, accompany with cake & guillotine.

Old parade drums are pretty crude, and made almost entirely of organic materials: wooden shell and hoops, skin heads, gut snares, tension via leather ears that tighten the rope between hoops. And longish, highly tapered, wood-tipped sticks, in traditional grip.

The shells were a lot larger than we use today - 16 x 16 wasn't uncommon.

The tension of everything was lower than we use today, too. The strainer only went so-so tight, and the ropes only get so tight on the heads. The giant shell kept the snares from being very sensitive - you usually hear as much of the heads and shell as of the snares. There wasn't much rebound, either, so loud rolls were played using a very open double stroke.

Here's a maker of reproduction drums for reference:

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Post by drumsound » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:12 pm

You might find out if there's a military recreation group around, or, even better, a band that does that period. I don't doubt that the snare drummer would come by for free and cut a roll for you. We have a Military band like that here. I know they have period instruments.

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Post by Professor T » Tue Dec 28, 2010 8:06 am

Thanks for the tips and links everyone! I didn't realize how much bigger and lower tensioned those snare drums were. I'll see what kind of big snares we can muster up.

BTW, has anybody seen the youtube videos of the Top Secret Drum Corps? These guys are pretty awesome.

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Post by losthighway » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:20 am

Incidentally, I was trying out snares with a drummer who had an oddly dark sounding snare- you almost couldn't hear the snare wires no matter what the tension. I put my Tama Starclassic that was tuned pretty tight and snappy and he said it sounded too much like a marching band.

Obviously this does not match the historical knowledge listed above, but sound is a subjective thing. I would keep trying different extremes of tuning and setup. The point is to get a sound that makes a listener think of an old drum corps, that might not end up matching what a real drum corps sounds like.

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Post by farview » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:59 am

losthighway wrote: I put my Tama Starclassic that was tuned pretty tight and snappy and he said it sounded too much like a marching band.

Obviously this does not match the historical knowledge listed above, but sound is a subjective thing.
A modern marching snare uses kevlar heads that are tuned insanely high. Much different than what was going on even 50 years ago, much less 150 years.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:12 am

You might want to try mixing some overdubbed live snares (normal tension) with some midi sounds that you can tune any way you want, rather than trying to find period drums and drummers (replete with long wool coats and tri-corner hats). You might also sample your own drum rolls, change pitch, add reverb to taste, etc. As mentioned, it is what is evoked, rather than how precisely you match the sound of Revolutionary/Civil War era/whatever tenor drums.


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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:40 am

Professor T wrote:Top Secret Drum Corps
that was amazing. thanks!

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Post by Jonkan » Thu Dec 30, 2010 5:36 pm

Tune low, use big sticks. And most important: play the drum in the way you want to portray. If possible use a deep drum (for shits and giggles why not even try a floor tom tuned higher than usual, with a snare mat taped to the bottom head?)


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Post by Bill @ Irie Lab » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:55 am

Useful DIY?

Knotted rawhide shoelaces across a deep double-headed tom, held tight with elastic cord.

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