Tag: improve live performance
These are some observations that I made while running sound at a small venue that will guide you to being a better live performer. The bands that were great already did all of these things. The bands that “needed work” showed it by not doing them.
First of all, you need to be able to play at three volumes: soft, medium, and hard. I realize that drumming is a very tactile endeavor, very much a “feel” instrument, but it’s crucial to be able to do this. It also makes for a more interesting listening experience if you are able to use hard and soft dynamics in various songs.
Second, look and listen to the room you’re going to be playing and determine which level is appropriate for the room. If it’s small and/or has lots of hard surfaces, use your softer volume. Drums carry extremely well, and depending on the shape and materials in the room, may get naturally amplified. When you hit your kit, listen to sound going out into the room and adjust accordingly.
Conversely, if you’re in a small room that has lots of soft surface that will not be amplifying your hits, then it’s ok to play a little harder, but always keep in mind how close your band mates are having to stand to your kit. If you overplay, your guitarist and or bassist will start cranking up to hear themselves over you, and congratulations, you’ve just started an inter-band volume war. No one wins in this war, especially the audience whom you came to impress. It’s simply just going to sound better if you focus on play tighter and blending well rather than any amount of volume you attempt to put out.
If you are on a stage in a couple-hundred capacity club, then your medium volume comes into play, keeping in mind the room reflections. If you are in a warehouse with lots concrete and corrugated metal, and thus lots of echos and amplification, keep it down so that it sounds pleasant, not overbearing. You can work with the room in order to achieve a pleasant balance. Likewise, if it’s a carpeted room with lots of absorbent surfaces, you can kick it up a notch keeping in mind your band mates’ proximity.
And it goes without saying, in a big room, on a stage with plenty of space, feel free to wail away.
Thirdly, tune your kit! This is one of those things that your average music fan won’t be able to put their finger on, but when they listen to a band where the drums are in tune, and the heads are still “live,” they simply describe it as sounding “better.” The tonality and the overtones of of each drum come through and results in a more defined sound. Since the drums are now more sonically defined to the ear, they are easily distinguishable without increasing any volume, and they sound more melodious and complement the overall band sound better.