Recording a drumkit under water..

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Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:11 pm

As some of you already know - I'm recording a drummer underneath the Derwent River for Monafoma in January.
….I always get the unorthodox gigs!....So……underwater drums eh?
Whats it gonna sound like? - I can only imagine….
The production crew behind this gig are fantastic - nothing is out of the question.
A custom steel grill stage with support struts is being built for a crane to safely lower and support Tina (the drummer) in her scuba gear to about 3 or so meters underwater. (i'm even micing the scuba mask for bubbles n grunts)
All the drums and stands are being bolted to the custom stage grill which allows water to flow though it.
Its all being recorded to HD for later mixing for video (yes there are a whole crew of underwater camera operators (and for the first time in my career - I think my assistant will be underwater!)
Rob is sussing out his old military hydrophone - see if its still works as a old submarine detector (should have good bottom end response)
I'm glueing bug mic's to all the skins and wiring up leads, silicon is being squeezed into every hole I can find and around the bearing edges of the shells to seal up any poss leaks through the skins.
The strange aspect is she is playing out of the water whilst the crane is lowering her - so getting a sound outside the water will be a hurdle as well considering what I've already committed to for the underwater aspect.
I will use an extra shotgun mic for outside of the water for the "overheads"
I'll have lots of EQ's > Neve/Electrodyne/MCIAmtec/Chandlers to bring out the tone of the drums which will end up sounding like a wet fish being slapped - unless I use radical EQ to bring out the fundamental tones needed so that it turns out sounding a bit like a kit - instead of cardboard boxes.
Also will use my new transient designer called the Nvelope - for radical transient shaping on the kick and snr

Advice>
- I would like to wire some internal drum mic's in addition to the bug mic's (with a cross section of wire to support the mic - and condoms ( of course) sealing these mic's.

I need a suggestion for cheap mic's that are very small - like a lapel mic that can be suspended inside the kick snr and toms for additional note/tone.
Can anyone point me toward small elcheapo (lapel type) mic's that will sound OK inside the drums?
Last edited by The Tasmanian on Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Manning » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:30 pm

I've got nothing to contribute, but I envy you and this gloriously ludicrous project :)
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby ChrisW » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:49 am

KInd of feel sad about all the gear that's going to be wrecked instantly, including the drums. :(
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Wiz » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:56 am

I am surprised, that she will get enough speed up on the stick, to produce sound...must have decent forearms...
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:42 am

Chris - well the drum kit is an old second hand Maxon crap kit we bought on Gumtree - the kid who sold it wanted the money for an IPhone - sign of the times eh? (he's probably getting an Iphone drumkit app!)
Also - Its getting washed and cleaned after and donated to someone as a begginers starter kit

Peter - I'm also glad its not me drumming > it would be a real hard workout.
We are getting steel drumsticks made so that there is some weight to help underwater..
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Wiz » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:09 am

The Tasmanian wrote:
Peter - I'm also glad its not me drumming > it would be a real hard workout.
We are getting steel drumsticks made so that there is some weight to help underwater..



This is a serious question, drag, through the water will be a major issue I guess. When I first thought about it, I thought perhaps the shape of the drumstick might need adjusting, but then I thought, wait a minute, her arms are going to be the biggest source of drag..I wonder if something like those suits, that the olympic swimmers used to use, at least on the arms (this is tasmania after all, the poor thing will freeze) would help.

Man, its going to be interesting, I honestly cant see how she will get enough force on the skin...cant wait to see/hear it thats for sure...

underwater drums, who woulda thunkit...

there have been some drummers I would have like to hold under water.... :)
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:18 am

Well - we've discussed this possible predicament at length, and as shes a really good (proper) drummer who uses her wrists - we should be OK (this gig is running on hope! - its not like we can go to a rehearsal room / tank)
My gig is gonna be just as dicey I rekon..... I'm hoping we can get a channel from Bonzo, didnt he drive his Rolls into his swimming pool?
I recon he'll be watching
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby jkhuri44 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:27 am

so how does this work when moving your body makes loud sounds too? im so confused by this concept, hehehe. im sure yo've thought about that too...
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:46 am

Jamil - I dont think this will be an issue, and if it does - I'll turn it into an advantage.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Wiz » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:55 am

The Tasmanian wrote:Well - we've discussed this possible predicament at length, and as shes a really good (proper) drummer who uses her wrists - we should be OK (this gig is running on hope! - its not like we can go to a rehearsal room / tank)
My gig is gonna be just as dicey I rekon..... I'm hoping we can get a channel from Bonzo, didnt he drive his Rolls into his swimming pool?
I recon he'll be watching


I think that was keith moon, but he, everyone was driving something into water back then :)

(you know, if it was april 1...... )
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby GlennS » Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:08 pm

How much will a drumskin resonate when there is water pressure on one side & air pressure on the other? Why not try removing the resonant heads & putting extra bug mics on the shells for additional tone? You should use google earth to locate a swimming pool close by in which you can test out your options (assuming there are some swimming pools in Tassie).
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Dec 06, 2012 3:39 pm

The drumskin wont really resonate much at all, thats why I want a suspended mic inside, and a bug on the skin for the thwack.
I dont think the shells will resonate much either at about 4 meters underwater. So the hollow shell should be a collection of sounds slightly resonating plus thwack - and then I do my black magic.
Its all a HUGE risk sonically (if a drumkit sounds uninteresting underwater then its my fault - not the rivers)

Can anyone recommend cheapish clip on drum mics I could use inside the drums?
Last edited by The Tasmanian on Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby mylesgm » Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:34 pm

I would be buying mini mics from tandy or radioshack or similar. Have a hunt online (and ebay) and you'll find a plethora of crappy lapel mics (some with in line battery power supplies) and go to town with them. You are going to have real problems with sealing the cables, mics, connectors etc to prevent water getting into them at 3 meters depth. The pressure is a lot more than simply dropping it in a sink to see if it is water tight. I'd definitely recommend taking a test setup of a tom and the mics you want to use and putting it in the deepest swimming pool you can find and see whether the gear actually survives it. At 3 meters deep in seawater (the Derwent is tidal so there'll be some seawater content and seawater is a little denser so I'm using that as a reference) the pressure will be around 8-8.5kgs oer square centimetre so every single connection and silicon coating will need to be able to resist that.

On the question of drums sticks, I reckon something very thin (wire?) with rigidity well help esp. if she plays from her wrists but I expect Wiz is right with regards to arms. Even if you do play from the wrists you've got to move your wrist from place to place and the drag on the arm will be a lot. Hop in a pool and see why they do resistance training in water.

Not to say I don't think the idea will work but I wouldn't be leaving it up to the performance moment to find out "maybe we should have used that approach instead." I reckon the cymbals will be the most interesting sound, I've recorded cymbals, gongs and tubular bells in water and the fundamental drops way low but the resonance also drops, sounds sort of like slowing down a tape machine...
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby rob » Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:53 pm

well i've been running the navy hydraphone in the fishpond all day. I rebuilt the headamp as the original was way too noisy and had frequency shaping filters in it. I got an earth loop between the fishpond and the preamp in the workshop ... go figure? Goldfish don't make much noise but the trickling of the fountain was clear and loud.
This is going to be one interesting gig!
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:06 pm

Also may put a PA underwater for extra volume in the water...
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby mylesgm » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:16 pm

and of course sound propagates much better underwater due to the density of water so any sounds will travel much further and be louder because the pressure differences between air and water. This works in your favour as she wont need to pound the crap out of the drums to make sound it'll just be a question of getting useful sound. You could use sealed transducers mounted onto metal or wood panels as the 'speakers' of an underwater PA.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Chinagraf » Fri Dec 07, 2012 1:16 pm

Have you got a date for this gig yet Chris? Might be time for a quick trip down to Tassie..
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:19 pm

Its on the 16th.
come and hear some fat splats....
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Kurt » Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:33 am

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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby jasound » Sat Dec 08, 2012 3:47 pm

Call me crazy but how about putting mics in/on the drum sticks.
Maybe you can't fathom it :)
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:28 pm

HA! Jason
Deep...
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Alistair » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:50 pm

F@#$ing bummed... thought I was going to make it down to this, but Mona Foma finally released the dates for this and it's on the Wednesday. not going to be in hobart til Thurs morning.
There's a big promo pic for this up in the CBD in Melbourne though- will try and take a pic and upload it.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:29 pm

That is a bummer Alistair - would have been good to have you hang out.
We'll have to catch up anyway.
Yeah there is 2 huge billboards for this gig up in Sydney - and 2 in Melbourne apparently.
The pressure is on... I had no idea about the billboards until a few days ago.....eeek
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby mylesgm » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:55 am

you could certainly put contact mics on the drumsticks but I can't see how you would get useable sound from them though you might get excellent trigger information. I've done wireless lapel mics on drummers sleeves before to great effect (not on the stick as we were going for acoustic sound) but can't see how that would work under water either.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Ben M » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:07 am

Yes, me thinks that mics on sticks underwater would sound like a washing machine cycle (especially when doing fills).
I like the idea of contact mics under skins and Alesis drum module as reinforcement or potential main sound as backup.
It's a tough one Chris. But I bet you're having fun though. Sounds like a hoot :) Best of luck
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:10 am

Or - an Alesis drum module (triggered by the bugs) playing back through an underwater submerged PA bin - blending it back in like a "room" mic with the drum mic's.
The military Hydraphone should pick up a nice blend of mainly cymbals (as Myles suggests) and the PA bin is pushing fat drum tones/samples through the water.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby jkhuri44 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:08 pm

drum machine? now your cheating :P jk...thats a good idea!
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby Alistair » Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:06 am

Changed my flights around so I will be down there to check it out. Looks like Wednesday night is actually one the biggest nights of the festival.

Got some pics of the billboard on my phone- looks pretty imposing- probably 10x10m in the middle of the CBD.
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby The Tasmanian » Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:00 pm

It will be great to have you there.
come and watch me sweat...
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Re: Recording a drumkit under water..

Postby NYMo » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:58 am

Hopefully she's done some rehearsal in the Hobart Olympic pool !
( I used to spend a lot of time at the bottom of the 16 foot end in my youth !)

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