Saturday, 15 May 2021

My home-made Renaissance side drum.

A side drum is an ancient kind of large drum that was used in Europe by the landsknechts, mercenaries from the German area. Said troops fought on the side of the highest bidder, and they even were part of the Spanish infantry under emperor Carlos I.

Said drum was played to one side, under the arm pit, thus its name. It was played together with fifes and was used to march, transmit orders, entertain the soldiers...

 


This project starts with a 18"x18" Gonalca surdo which was crying for a new chance.

 

© David Valdés

 

I took all the hardware and the wrap off, leaving the shell in its "natural" state.

 

© David Valdés

 

18"x13" seems to be a normal size for these drums, so I cut the shell to nearly 14" in depth.

 

© David Valdés


Quite obviously, I kept the remainig shell, which is now an instrument I will write about in the future. Now it was time to cover the holes...


© David Valdés


...and to cut the protuding dowels.


© David Valdés

 

I sanded both sides of the shell so they were smooth and then glued a new veneer:


© David Valdés


The shell was ready. I then drilled two diametrically opossed groups of three holes to accommodate the pegs in charge of tensioning the snares. Six viola tuning pegs were inserted, which I drilled so the gut could pass through:


© David Valdés

 

I got two wooden counterhoops at Thomann, which I drilled (16 times each) at a 22.5º angle to facilitate the passing of the rope.

 

© David Valdés

 

I cut two snare gates in the resonant counterhoop for the snares:

 

© David Valdés

 

I made 16 ears using leather pads and ribbon:

 

© David Valdés


Everything was ready: the 16 ears, 22 metres of hemp rope (7mm. thick) and two goat heads (the batter one slightly thicker, both mounted on wooden flesh hoops) I got at Baena Sonido.


© David Valdés


Here you can see the pig tail, the knot that ends the roping and keeps the tension. See how the ends of the rope are covered with leather tape so they do not fray:


© David Valdés


A chain is "knit" with the remaining rope, which is attached around the lower counterhoop. This is how the drum looks like once roped:

 

© David Valdés


I made the snares using natural gut I also got at Baena Sonido.


© David Valdés


I passed the gut through the hole I previously drilled on the pegs, securing it with a figure of 8 knot (the gut was wet, so it was malleable and easy to work with).

 

© David Valdés
 
 
© David Valdés


© David Valdés

 

As a last detail I added to rope loops, which will be used to secure the cotton sling I will use to hang the drum from my right shoulder. See how the ends of the rope are covered with leather tape:

 

© David Valdés

 

This is how the finished drum looks like:

 

© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés

 

And this is how it is played:

 

© David Valdés


© David Valdés


 

Stay tuned, as I will soon publish a video featuring this drum. As always, I will be more than happy to listen to your comments, advises, opinions...


…et in Arcadia ego.
© David Valdés

Monday, 24 February 2020

Building a Renaissance drum ("long drum").

I have been wanting a large drum, like the one my friend and colleage Manolo Durán has, for a long time.


© David Valdés

His drum has been used by the Oviedo Opera Foundation, by the OSPA in some baroque programs... I wanted one like his, but building brands do not offer such large sizes so I could make one myself, and buying one wasn´t an option, as they are ridiculously expensive. When I saw a couple of floor toms stored in my workshop, the gears inside my head started working...

This project starts with two 16"x16" floor toms I had lying around. One of them was a Sonor from a vintage "Swinger" kit, and the other was of unknown brand and procedence. Of course (as you already should know) I couldn´t care less for the woods of these two drums 😉.

Here you have both toms:


© David Valdés


Bare in mind that the height of these two drums together was 32", something not very practical, so I decided to slightly cut one of them so, once together, its height was more convenient: 29".


© David Valdés


The next thing I did was covering all the holes, a process that, should you have read previous articles, I´m already an expert at 😄. Here you can see the glued inserted dowels and how I cut them. You can also see how bad the interior was, but not anymore... I worked on it during the building process.


© David Valdés


In order to join both shells together, I vertically inserted loads of wooden dowels into the now flat edges. The holes in both shells are coincident, so I only had to join the shells inserting the common dowel in the corresponding holes in both drums.


© David Valdés


I must say this process was quite complicated, as the shells are quite thin, and drilling them and inserting the dowels was quite hard. If I´m not wrong, I think I used more than 20 dowels to ensure the correct joining of the two shells. Once everything was glued together, this is how it looked from the inside (still not sanded or oiled):


© David Valdés


This is how the seam looked from the outside:


© David Valdés


Next thing I did was sanding both the inside and the outside untill they were perfectly smooth, as if the shell was just one instead of two joined together. I also applied some tung oil to the interior.

I got another problem when I tried to cover the outside: the drum is so large that no vinyl cover exists or is commercially available. To solve this, I decided to go with a striped design. I used "Fablon" vinyl to cover the large bands (mahogany) and thinner strips of beech on the centre. This is how it looks once applied.


© David Valdés
  

As you can see, the final result is very nice.

The counterhoops are made of beech and I got them from Manuel Almeida de Ocampo. They are a single steam bent piece. Here you can see how I marked them to for drilling (in a 20º angle, so the rope "descends" through them).


© David Valdés


Once drilled, I applied some tung oil. Here you can see a raw one and an oiled one.


© David Valdés


This photo shows both counterhoops finished and the holes free from shavings. Have a look at the lower left corner: there´s the jig I used to drill the holes to a 20º angle.


© David Valdés


I got the goat heads at Baena Sonido, mounted on wooden hoops. The batter head is slighter thicker than the thinner resonant head.


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


I used natural rope and also made some leather ears:


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


Done. Time to put everything together:


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


© David Valdés


As a final detail, I added a carry hook so the drum can be hung from a sling.


© David Valdés


Mi Renaissance drum is finished... If you take Manolo´s as a reference (first photo), you have to know mine is a little bit larger (his is about 70 cm. high, mine is 29"), so you now have a rough idea of its size. I can tell you this drum sounds like a thunder, and is great for playing early music or things like the long drum in Aaron Copland´s  "Appalachian Spring".


…et in Arcadia ego.
© David Valdés