Discuss drumming technique here
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By Crispy
I've noticed recently that while I'm playing, my technique changes subtly according to the volume and intensity of what I'm playing. Is this normal? It seems to come from continually adjusting for the right sound and my 'quiet technique' doesn't work at high volume and vice versa.

I find my hands are slightly further over the rim and less strongly angled towards each other at high volume. In both cases, the difference is only a couple of millimeters, but the difference in feeling is quite significant. Neither feels particularly wrong though.

Anyway... Is this a bad habit?
Interesting question. I noticed a while ago that I cannot differentiate my volume with the technique I have. I was trying to mimic Famoudou Konate's entering chauff-like patterns when he starts into Fefo. I like it so much how he emphasizes some of the strokes he does in the row of subpulses, thereby bringing rhythmic structure and melody into the equal row of strokes -- but I couldn't. I experimented a lot an found that I have to hold my hands much further over the rim and go a bit more into the center (well, much is relative, since it is always only a question of milimeters in that respect, but that can make a lot of difference!) in order to play both gentle and loud with one position of my hands.

I guess it doesn't really matter if you adapt slightly as long as it doesn't disrupt your playing, but I think it's not what those really good African players would do. You cannot see any change whether they play tone or slap, gentle or loud. But I tend to be more relaxed on those questions since I found that a forced training of technique does not always get me where I want to be. The more experienced I become, the more "organic" my technique changes, but in little steps at a time, just naturally...
As long as it sounds good and doesn't interfere with playing ability, I wouldn't worry a bit about this subtle hand changing positions. On contrary...

Sometimes I also deliberatly change position of hands, depending on wheather I am playing accompaniment or solo. The thing is that moving hands towards the center, more over the rim, produces louder, plump, resonant sound which is best for soloing. Moving hands just a milimeter or two back or offcenter, produces somewhat shorter, sharper but more descreete sounds which are more suitable for some accompaniniments in my opinion. This isn't the rule of thumb I would stick with all the time but in some rhythm arrangements I found it works very well.

I would be surprised to say the least, if some djembe masters wouldn't also use subtle, visualy almost undetected changes in hand positioning when playing djembe in general (accompaniment, solo, phrazing, etc.), as it allows greater richness and versatilty in sound.
Living in a one bedroom apartment in the San Francisco I definitely have learned a thing or two about playing the djembe and dununs quietly. I used to take them down to the park to practice, but I got lazy and wanted to figure out how to practice at home.I have been working on playing soft so that I can practice without bothering anyone. But back to the subject of technique- I have found that in practicing quietly my technique has, I think, changed for the better. For me, playing tones and slaps at a very low volume required developing a lighter touch and when playing for dance class at a higher volume I have found that if I can keep the same feeling and technique my sound is much cleaner. I think that I was, for lack of a better word "overplaying" the drum and now I'm working on playing with more finesse. A little off subject, but I hope relevant.