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A choir is rehearsing a piece of mine for voices (approx. 30 people, SATB), piano, violin, and snare drum. In a fast/loud section, the snare drum overpowers the chorus. It's probably too late to change the snare drum part itself, but are there any things we can try to help improve the balance?

Would a particular set of sticks help, or would something heavy placed on the head help? I've seen jazz drummers put their wallet on the snare for this reason. Could something be put inside the drum to deaden it?

The drummer is a skilled performer, so I don't think it's a feature of a young player simply playing too loud.

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  • Does it seem to be the snap of the snare wires or the ring of the heads (or both) that's creating the issue? Does the drummer have different choices of instruments to offer (e.g. metal vs. wood, different head types)?
    – Theodore
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 13:11
  • If you're using amplification, and if you have it, you can of course but the drumset inside a plastic "cage" and mic as needed. This is ultimately the best way to control balance. But to get a good sound you'll need lots of mics (kick, snare, hi-hat, one above the whole set esp for ride), the cage is heavy and expensive, and you'll need good mixing. Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 13:58
  • @AndyBonner - no kit, only snare! So encapsulating suddenly becomes easier.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 17:52
  • No cages, no drumset (snare only)
    – nuggethead
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:35

1 Answer 1

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Volume suggestions…

Stick types, in volume order...

Heavy sticks 2B
Light sticks 7A
Wood whacks/rods
Thinner rods
Brushes

If the drum is too ringy, you can either tune it out, stick a piece of paper tissue over one edge using sticky tape [top/bottom skin or both], or in extremis put a tea towel over it.

After that, it's technique. I know drummers that are a lot louder on 7As than others with 2Bs, because of how they whip into the skin rather than swing at it from a distance.

In case you've not seen them before…
Wood whacks

enter image description here

Rods
enter image description here

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  • I guess 'rods' are also known as 'rutes'?
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 19:19
  • 2
    I've seen the whacks/rods sold in the US as "hot rods" and "cool rods" respectively. Moon Gels (not sure of generic term) will also kill ring and bring volume down somewhat.
    – Theodore
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 20:51
  • @Theodore - I've seen such ring-killer devices, but tbh if the ring is out of the park, the tuning is wrong. Fix that first.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 16:27
  • @Tetsujin Yes, if it's your drum to tune. If you're dealing with "someone else's ring", it's probably an easier sell to affix a damper device than to have at it with a tuning key.
    – Theodore
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 17:31
  • If I'm MD/engineer & the drummer can't tune his kit… I carry a key in my mic case :P
    – Tetsujin
    Commented May 3, 2022 at 17:42

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