Advice and questions on making and fixing instruments
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By boromir76
#37764
Cow is quite thick. If you look at the trimmed edge of the skin on this drum you'll get an idea of it's thickness. Let me tell you that, to me, the thickness on these pictures seems just a bit less than it actually is.
The area with thickest part of the skin is on the opposite side, on the upper right part of the ring area wich is not visible on the photo... I would not bet on cow, but it has to be skin which is quite thick, because of its asymethrical spine positioning...
User avatar
By drtom
#37765
Your reasoning seems solid, but you cannot know that the thickness of the skin is quite uniform throughout. After soaking, it became thoroughly supple throughout.

The thickness is maybe two sheets of paper thicker than the thickest goat skin I've mounted. Perhaps comparing it to medium going on thick calf will mean to you what it means to me.

It's a bit frustrating, isn't it? There is variance in goat, variance in calf, and variance in our experience.
User avatar
By boromir76
#37766
....the thickness of the skin is quite uniform throughout. After soaking, it became thoroughly supple throughout.
Thats interesting. In my experiences the smaller spine part thickness was at least one to two times thicker than thinnest and most distanced part from spine on the other side.
User avatar
By drtom
#37767
Yes '76, it's been my experience as well that the spine tends to be thicker. Even the hair tends to grow thicker and stiffer there. I've handled skins that remain stiff and unyielding along the spine even after prolonged soaking.

One of the things I look for in a skin is a spine that's not too thick. I look for a uniform thickness. There are skins that are only slightly thicker at the spine or not thicker at all, though these are definitely the exception.
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By drtom
#38126
I think you've had enough time to mull it over.

It's elk. One thing I thought might be a good clue to someone is the venous tracks on the skin. I've found these to be fairly common to elk, but not so much on other types of skins (goat for instance). I knew I had lain down a challenge, since it can be difficult to tell even with a first hand inspection.
User avatar
By michi
#38135
drtom wrote:It's elk.
Doh, very common. I really should have thought of that myself! ;)
I knew I had lain down a challenge, since it can be difficult to tell even with a first hand inspection.
Naw, this one was a bit too easy. I would have chosen okapi… ;)

Michi.
User avatar
By the kid
#38161
I gave up guessing after you didn't reject my guess of deer. But we would have got to elk eventually... maybe.

How did the elk sound. Does it kick like a mule or neigh like a horse.
User avatar
By drtom
#38163
I was thrilled with the sound kid. Great range, definition and volume, and I'm confident of its durability. I was particularly happy with what seemed to me flawless articulation. I know some people like the overtones, but I'm not one of them.
User avatar
By batadunbata
#38187
drtom wrote:I was thrilled with the sound kid. Great range, definition and volume, and I'm confident of its durability. I was particularly happy with what seemed to me flawless articulation. I know some people like the overtones, but I'm not one of them.
Could you say a little more about what you mean by more articulation vs overtones?
For instance, I could say goat is more articulate than cow because it has clearer sounds, and less fuzziness. But it also has more ringing overtones which as you mention, hinder articulation.
So I could say cow is more articulate, because it has less ringing, making the underlying tones more pronounced. But it's also muddy sounding, not focused.

So do you mean elk is both clearer than cow and less ringey than goat?

I'd love to hear a recording, it's very intriguing. It looks noticably different than any skin I've seen. There's a natural pigment in it which is very diffusely dispersed, and together with the smooth surface it looks almost like stone, as The Kid said, marble. Beautiful.
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By the kid
#38190
I could say goat is more articulate than cow because it has clearer sounds, and less fuzziness. But it also has more ringing overtones which as you mention, hinder articulation.
So I could say cow is more articulate, because it has less ringing, making the underlying tones more pronounced. But it's also muddy sounding, not focused.
I'd like to hear a definition of your terms like muddy. What does that mean. Fuzziness etc?

There are weird and wonderful sounds inside a djembe for sure.

How would describe this specific clip of calf skin.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkUBEBzwRxw&feature=youtu.be
User avatar
By drtom
#38196
I think you have a good grasp of what I mean bdb, though it's certainly arguable that tuning has more to do with the ringing and overtones than skin type.

The drum we speak of has been reunited with her person for some time now, but I'll send a request for a recording. This is a busy person that has always been slow to respond, so it may take some time, assuming a positive response.
the kid wrote:I'd like to hear a definition of your terms like muddy. What does that mean. Fuzziness etc?
Conveying the sound of a djembe is a challenge; the hearing is subjective; words are muddy and fuzzy.
User avatar
By batadunbata
#38197
Re the Elk skin Dr Tom:
It sounds like it might be a discovery, although I don't know how numerous Elk are, or how available the skin is. Thanks for asking the owner for a recording, hopefully they're flattered, and it helps them appreciate how awesome it sounds. I'd be interested whenever.

Re sounds being hard to describe: So true, and adding to that is the large number of variables in a given sound, especially Djembe sounds, so it's hard to accurately summarize. Wish there was more vocabulary for it.

Re the sound clip The Kid:
I would describe the sounds in that clip as somewhat typical of calf.
So it's got warm punchiness to the tones.
But there's a quality to calf/cow which sort of reduces the higher overtones to a uniform hard sharp sound. This sound decays faster than the overtones of goat, but it has less variability than goat, and can actually make cow sound "hard" in one sense, even though the core tones are "softer".
If I were to use calf/cow, I'd either put it on a wide djembe (13.75" and over) or tune it lower than goat, so it's got enough flex to get rid of that hard "ring". (I don't know what else to call the sound)
(Yes I'm aware it's a Khadi drum, so it has more high "ring", I'm factoring for that, it's always true of calf/cow, regardless of the wood, when tuned up, but less pronounced on diameters over 13.5")

Muddy to me means "not clear". Sometimes loss of clarity can be good, as in "warm", "earthy", "nutty", "chewy". But it can also be bad, as in "flat", "bland", "mushy", depending on the overall result/effect/goal.
I'm referring to how the overtones are blurred together, rather than standing apart.
The result is calf/cow has more body to the tone, but less distinction between the overtones that exist within the tone. The overtones are dampened, and in order to come through, they're selected for being harmonic with each other, to create enough power to be heard. So the fundamental tone (or tonal group let's say) is enhanced, but at a cost to clarity and precision.
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By drtom
#38201
batadunbata wrote:Re sounds being hard to describe: So true, and adding to that is the large number of variables in a given sound, especially Djembe sounds, so it's hard to accurately summarize. Wish there was more vocabulary for it.
Exactly. Skin type and thickness, type of wood, size, shape and proportions, technique, etc.

I'm intrigued by the turn of the discussion. Great idea to post a clip as a reference point. It would be progress even if all we achieved was some consensus on our terminology.