basses and the physics of drumsticks

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by nonsqtr, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi all, I'd like to explore a statement I made in another thread, and I got to thinking about it, and it led to this question. Do any of you know, when a drummer does a roll on a snare drum, do his fingers have to be moving at the same rate? I'm not a drummer, but I can do a roll. Whenever I do that, my fingers have to be supporting the motion of the stick. I'm not a physicist either, but I do know a little about biology, and I'm thinking that it would be impossible from that standpoint as well as from a physical standpoint, to have the stick moving at that rate, unless your fingers were also moving at the same rate. Is that true?

    (This question really applies to bass playing, we're trying to determine whether a bass can be played as fast as Billy Cobham shreds his drums. Really. Seriously. Who are the fastest bass players you know? Can any of them get that bumblebee sound that Billy gets when he shreds across the toms?)
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Think of a record - one of those old school, vinyl disks. Let's take a couple of 'measurements' - we'll say that the circumference of the label is 10cm and the circumference of the whole record is 100cm.

    Now put it on the turntable at 33RPM. In one minute, a speck of dust on the edge of the label will have travelled 330cm (33 x 10) while one on rim of the record will have gone 3,300cm (33 x 100). The record is travelling at a fixed number of revolutions but the speed of the dust speck depends on how far it is from the centre.

    Drumsticks are similar - a small move from the hand is 'magnified' into a much larger movement at the tip. The more the motion is in an arc, the more pronounced the effect becomes. Add to that the extra energy produced by bouncing off the drumskin and I don't think a bassist is going to be able to get the same kind of buzz going (unless they use sticks as well.... like Tony Levin's funk fingers).

  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Also remember that skins (& cymbals) have a high degree of bounce in them. The stick is bouncing at the end that is hitting the drum, and bouncing back at the end in the drummers hand.
    The delicate amount of pressure applied at the hand can mirror the amount of pressure from the skin, so the end of the stick is bouncing back and forth very fast.. like one of those really bouncy balls in a very narrow gap between two walls. If that makes any sense whatsoever?!

    As for bassists playing that fast... we dont have to, we have note length instead :)
  4. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Cool, that makes sense. Yeah, I wasn't necessarily referring to single fingers, I was thinking in terms of "any technique available to a bass player". This whole thing started out as a bet between me and my guitar player. He said there was no way a bass player could shred as fast as a guitar pleyer. I said yes there was, and I showed him how it's done. Then I explained to him that most bass players just don't do that type of thing because the bass is traditionally a different instrument and it's used for a different purpose. And then I made the bold statement that it was possible for a bass player to shred the bass as fast as Billy Cobham shreds his drums. And he didn't believe it, and it resulted in a bet.

    That was about three months ago. Since then a lot of strange and wonderful things have happened. But I'll tell you about that later. So the next part of the question is, how does one objectively measure the speed of a technique? If you had a drummer, let's say, doing a roll with a snare drum, is there a method for measuring how fast he's going?
  5. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    No, they don't. As others have explained, a drum roll is what percusionists refer to as a 'multiple bounce technique' meaning that for each time the hand brings the stick to the drum head, the stick will bounce against the head several times. Playing a nice tight drum roll (fast) really has more to do with good multiple bounce technique than it has to do with generating hand speed.
    Good multiple bounce technique just comes from the feel of the stick in your hand - what your grip is like and how the stick reacts off the head

    beats per minute?

    I really don't think there is.
  6. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Okay, I get that concept about the multiple bounce technique. In other words, you're saying that the drum stick is moving at some higher harmonic of the drummer's hand/wrist motion, because of the multiple bounce thing? That would mean that in a drum roll (or whatever else uses this technique), the amplitude of the individual mini-hits should vary periodically, right? In other words, if I look at a digitized waveform of a drum roll, and note the amplitude of each peak, I should be able to visually identify the periodicity?
  7. Hurley


    Feb 12, 2004
    Cape Cod, MA
    I don't know about that, but there is a device that can measure drum speed. All it does is measure beats, and I believe it has a timer (for measuring total beats in a set amount of time). It's called the Drumometer, and it measures speed on a trigger pad. It's used by the World's Fastest Drummer competition. They measure single rolls (L,R,L,R...) and double rolls (L,L,R,R...), as well as bpm of bass drums.

    To see some world-record drumming, check this out...

    World's Fastest Drummer Competition
    (try the "Battle for 1200" video - bottom right)
  8. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Cool, thanks for that!

    Here's my proposed method so far: digitize a recording into ProTools or some other audio software, then use a software filter (and maybe a gate/expander) to remove the garbage and/or emphasize the events of interest. Then you could do one of two things: either use the "grid" tool to expand the waveform and count the number of events visually on the screen, or slow down the track by applying one of those time-expansion transforms and count the number of events by ear. Obviously the count achieved by the two methods should agree. The key criterion is that it has to be an objective method that two or more independent observers can agree on.
  9. xush


    Jul 4, 2001
    mobile AL
    Well, what sort of ideas do you have for approximating the technique on bass?
    The only way I can picture getting that '11-stroke roll' kind of effect is if you could double-thump with each finger really fast or maybe the old 'pick-on-a-power-drill' routine. How about one of those little hand-held plastic fans? Put the blades up to the string and rip away?

    Whatchya got in mind?
  10. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well, there's three different ways I've kinda come close to doing this. One is with two handed tapping, another is fingerstyle, and a third uses slapping.

    The two handed tapping method is obvious, you just use all ten fingers! (or eight of them, that works pretty well).

    Fingerstyle, I use this bizarre little method I came up with myself, it's kind of like a Flamenco strum but it's more controlled, you run each finger backwards and forwards over the string in a staggered pattern, and with three fingers you can get really fast.

    Slapping-wise I can do it several different ways, all of which involve left hand slapping. It has to be done on a bass with incredibly low action, and you have to use a feather touch to do it, but it can be done. The easiest way is to slap with the fingers of your left hand while rolling on the strings with your right. You can also tap with your right, that's a pretty cool sound.

    I haven't figured out a way to get that fast with a pick yet. I'm not sure it can be done. But then again, I listen to Yngwie and all those shred guitar player guys, and some of 'em get pretty close. I can get pretty fast with a Sharkfin pick, like doing the fast Spanish guitar type stuff, but not as fast as a drum roll.
  11. dracovyrn


    Jun 26, 2012
    I made an account here because other than playing percussion, I also play bass.

    Looking at this thread, it kind of makes me laugh because this guy is asking here. :p

    Alright, so a multiple bounce roll, which is a the buzz roll, press roll, or fast triple stroke roll, is basically a roll that is not meant to have time. On the classical guitar, the player rolls on a string (also know as tremolo) by doing a three or four finger roll, in the order of thumb, first finger, middle finger, and ring finger, going back to the thumb and repeat.

    This technique is used to do many plucks or notes really fast for an amount of time, but does not have a definite speed or amount of notes. As long as the amount of strikes fit into a half note tremolo, it works.

    The same idea goes for a buzz roll. A buzz roll is basically a tremolo. The idea is to get as many strokes per hand without accenting any notes. My favorite percussionist, Bill Bachman, describes buzz rolls as "really fast triple strokes" meaning three hits per hand.

    Physically, its not possible to do every single note with the sticks. Instead, the sticks rebounds off the head like a basketball being dribbled. Really slow, a person can bounce the ball bounce by bounce. As you get faster, you have to get closer to the ground and soon the ball will bounce from the ground andfrom the resistance of your hand. That's what its like for a. Drumstick during a buzzroll.