Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Idiots, you're doing it wrong. Fools!

This is you trying to play a normal drum set.
Ergonomics! The science of putting things where scientists tell you to and shutting up. Our sad devotion to this clearly absurd contraption, the drum set,  has given us nothing but crippling injuries and a lifetime of frustration, but we are psychologically and intellectually unequipped to evolve it into a rational musical instrument. We don't know what the hell we're doing and we need help.

Well, our torment is finally at an end. Some scientists from the Philippines (home of the hard boiled fetal duck egg) have recognized our cognitive disability and taken pity on us, and have conducted a study to help us set up our drums and be not as stupid.

Now, before you start in with a lot of “what are you talking about I know how to set up my drums wtf is this” nonsense, let me show you some actual scientific equations used in this study:


Now let me back it up for those of you reading this and saying durm what is durm, and sadly pawing the computer screen, in some atavistic hope of making the words less incomprehensible to your inadequate drummer's brain. The scientists inform us:

A drum is simply any percussion instrument beaten by the hands or with some tool, as a stick or wire brush. However, the use of only a single drum may not be able to utilize the full capacity of a skilled drummer. This then leads to the development of the drum set.

Indeed it does.

The drum set or drum kit is a collection of percussion instruments to be struck by a single player seated at a drum throne/seat. It is, as often said, the backbone of every band, keeping the pace and driving the rhythm section of every performance. A standard set of drums consists of a snare drum, a bass drum, a hi-hat, two tom-tom drums and one or more cymbals. The hi-hat could be operated by the left foot; the bass drum is operated by the right foot, while the other drum components are struck with drum sticks. Drumsticks are normally held at their fulcrum points. 

Do not be deceived by the purposely vague language and general yada yada attitude towards this seemingly foundational part of the study. You only think that an actual understanding of the underlying issues is important because you don't think scientific. They are clearly attempting to lull us into a false sense of security— making it look like they haven't bothered to think about what actually happens in a drumming performance so they can trap us later on. That's what science is all about, man.

Though the drum kit arrangement is arbitrary, there is a common set-up widely used by drummers. The image shows the common arrangement of a drum kit (Fig. 2).

Totally arbitrary! Finally someone with a total lack of knowledge of how the drums are played has the balls to point this out.

Here is how the study team thinks you are setting up your drums. I had to invert the image from the study because they have disorientingly presented it the other way around, which makes no sense at all. This does not mean they don't know what they're doing so stop thinking that.

Fig. 2

I also want you to stop thinking what the f__ is this, who puts their floor tom off to the side of the bass drum, and the tom toms are apparently placed on snare drum stands in front of the bass drum, what the f__ is up with that, the hihats are also in a weird spot, and the crash cymbal a mile away on the far side of the small tom WHAT IS THIS— and so on. That's just what the scientists want you to think. The gross inaccuracy of the diagram will make the impact of the equations, which are truly rigorous, all the more seismic. Plus there's only so much rigor to go around. Here:

more science

Get off my back. The study looked at male drummers from the Philippines (home of revolting culinary traditions too numerous to mention) aged 14-30. I don't know why exclusively male— God knows what they thought was involved in including women in the study. They basically settled on a methodology of a) trying to figure out what drummers hit most, and b) putting those things closest. All the while ceding as little as possible to three-dimensional reality.


If you think I'm going to try to explain/understand the actual mathematical gibberish that went into this you're sadly mistaken. This is what they came up with:

Overwhelmed by your crippling hidebound conformism, you may find this confusing at first. For example:

— If we assume the player is facing north, the snare drum is positioned directly where the left knee would be on an intact human body, with the large tom tom positioned flush on its left. Assuming the player is allowed to keep that portion of his leg, the snare drum will have to be severely elevated and mounted on some kind of boom or bracket mount with enough leg clearance to allow heel-up playing on whatever pedal that foot operates. Playing the snare drum normally with both hands would require a weird asymmetrical posture by the drummer,

— The hihat is on the right, meaning either it will now be played with the right foot, or we all have to buy remote systems, the cost of which could feed an average Filipino family of five for six months. Most hihat stands also have a thin metal stick protruding 8-10" above the cymbals, which is also problematic for positioning tom 2.

— The ride cymbal is way off to the right, a bit of a reach if you jazz players ever want to ding on that thing here and there, but no big woop; going cshhh-chick-a-cshhhh on the hihat sounds way more “jazzy.” You'll get used to it. Just play different stuff.

— The placement of the second tom tom would seem to be problematic, but that may just be my relentless pig-ignorance talking. Since it overlaps the hihat, and tom toms are actual three dimensional objects in the real world, and not two dimensional circles you drag around the screen with your mouse, the drum will have to be positioned at considerable height over the hihat to be playable— just look at your drumset and imagine how a 13" tom tom would have to be positioned to match the diagram.

— The smallest tom tom is not too horrible, but if you play the toms as an ensemble, they are arranged high - middle - then low way off to the left with a crash cymbal directly in between. And if you read the description of this dream set up, the crash cymbal and smaller toms are to be positioned at the same “level 3” height. So any hand motion between the low and higher tom toms is hereby consigned to the dustbin of drumming history.

— Just put that big-ass 22" bass drum any old place. Ergonomics!


Now, I know what you're saying: “that won't work”, and “there's no f__in' way I'm f__in' doing this you f__, what's wrong with you. The f__ is wrong with you.” A torrent of f-bombs, basically.

After we've all calmed down, the general awkwardness sets in. I don't know what else to tell you. Visit the Philippines. Try the hard boiled fetal duck egg.

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