Originally Posted by Pass.of.E.r.a.
I don't quite follow, yet I'm very intrigued! How would a drum resonate with the head having close to zero sustain? Isn't the head sustain nuanced by the shell, but not independant?
Good question Jonathan,
yes, head sustain is/can be nuanced/assisted by shell resonance, but not necessarily so. For example (extreme), I could make a shell out of 2" thick concrete & still get the heads to sustain with a combination of accurate tuning & sharp bearing edges. The biggest contribution a shell makes, other than providing an enclosed vessel, is how it affects the air column, & in turn, what the heads do. A highly resonant shell changes the tone of the drum (not a "better" statement). I'm referring primarily to the first second or so of the drum's sound. This is the period of time over which the shell is meaningfully excited. It vibrates, disturbing the air column & feeding those vibrations into the mix. That in turn is transmitted as sound by the heads.
Shell resonance (or a lack of it) is what delivers tone into the drum's resolved sound. It's the very voice of the drum, the sound you mostly hear. Head sustain after the initial note (decay) is mostly lost outside of a close mic'ing application, & is usually lost in all but the lowest dynamic music mix. Without a resonant shell, the sound is very one dimensional. That shell resonance adds a range of overtones that cumulatively, add a chorus of tones to the sound. All this happens in that vital first second or so. After that, it's all decay of the head vibrations/oscillations. Additionally, a shell's ability to be easily excited (really, the definition of a highly resonant shell) very much dictates how much tone the drum delivers at low dynamic. Played gently, a drum who's shell offers little resonant response produces a flat sound. A highly resonant drum opens up much more readily to produce a more full (& hence usually more satisfying) tone when played gently.
So, the more the shell resonates, the more tone augmentation takes place. Shell resonance detracts from sharpness of attack, so a balance is desirable. Also, managing that shell resonance is primarily a function of shell construction. A resonating shell can deliver unwanted (usually higher) overtones just as easily as the overtones you want to fatten out the sound, so it's not automatically good news.
All the above is where the real benefits of drum isolation lies. Not as a mechanism to prolong head decay, but as a means to assist in allowing the drum to deliver it's maximum voice potential at all dynamic levels.
I hope I'm making some sense :)
BTW Jonathan, been a while since we heard some of your superb playing!