Drums can't be tuned -- Buddy Rich

Vistalite Black

Ludwigs in the Basement
Joined
Feb 17, 2015
Messages
2,624
Reaction score
456
Location
North Carolina
Who's going to argue with the great Buddy Rich?

"I don't tune them, I tension them. There's a great difference. If you tune a drum, that means you're looking for a note. If you try to tune to any given note, as soon as the audience comes in, or the weather changes, or it gets hotter or colder or damp, the heads go down. They can't be tuned. You can only tension them."

https://www.moderndrummer.com/article/january-1977-buddy-rich/
 

sksmith-1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
198
Reaction score
32
Technically, I think he's correct.
Unless you are tuning to a note, you are tensioning a drum.
With tympani's, they are tuned to notes for the key of the song.
Steve
 

bellbrass

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 11, 2005
Messages
6,388
Reaction score
396
Location
Bluegrass of Kentucky
He has a point.... a small one. Every musical instrument produces overtones, even if "perfectly" tuned. Drums are worse than most instruments for this. You can still tune a drum to a note, and make is sound musical and pleasing to the ear. Just tightening them will not do this. I know; I did it the wrong way for many years.
 

Tornado

Very well Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
1,128
Reaction score
555
Location
Dallas
MD: Are any of your drums specially made?

BR: Nope, right off the rack.

MD: That’s interesting. I thought many name players used custom-made equipment?

BR: Yeah, well that’s because they can’t play. I mean it’s obvious you know … you put a race driver in a car, if he knows how to drive, he can drive anything. If he can’t drive, he can’t push a kiddie car.
 

Tornado

Very well Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
1,128
Reaction score
555
Location
Dallas
This is one of the greatest drummer interviews ever.

MD: What advice do you have for young drummers?

BR: None. I don’t give advice to anybody. Everybody has to make their own decisions and everybody should make their own decisions.

MD: Do you think it’s harder for the young drummer today to make it to the top than it was when you started?

BR: Well, I think it’s a lot easier. In those days you had to be able to play. It’s easier now because the kids that are playing today have no musical background. They luck out with an album and they become stars. I mean, where is their staying power? Where is their creativity? Most drummers I hear today play what every other drummer has played on record. I don’t hear one bit of originality. I hear triplets coming off tom-toms by every kid that’s been able to hold a pair of sticks. That’s not my idea of playing drums.
 

multijd

Very well Known Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2013
Messages
785
Reaction score
139
Location
Buffalo, NY
Everything he says has to be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe a whole shaker). He was a fabulous drummer and from all accounts could be a warm person. But he also had an arrogant streak and could be downright nasty. He also talked a lot of b.s. including his rants against country music, matched grip and written drum parts for which he has been disproved many times over. Personally I wish i could have met him and hung out with him for a few days.
 

Tornado

Very well Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
1,128
Reaction score
555
Location
Dallas
Tell this to Terry Bozzio.
Well, Terry does this for sure. I think you have to keep in mind how Buddy would talk about almost everything. Broad generalizations that were true in 99.9% of situations. I think his real point was that even attempting this is useless and even futile for almost everyone in almost any situation.
 

Radio King

DFO Veteran
Joined
Dec 22, 2011
Messages
2,176
Reaction score
544
Location
VA Beach
Everything he says has to be taken with a grain of salt (or maybe a whole shaker). He was a fabulous drummer and from all accounts could be a warm person. But he also had an arrogant streak and could be downright nasty. He also talked a lot of b.s. including his rants against country music, matched grip and written drum parts for which he has been disproved many times over. Personally I wish i could have met him and hung out with him for a few days.
Well said. I believe his arrogance was part of the ingredient that made him so great. He WILLED himself to push the envelope, much like Muhammad Ali did in the ring. It also contributed to him contradicting himself. I believe he was the type of guy that would sometimes choose to see white instead of black, just to be a contrarian.
As to his warmth, there are countless stories about his kindness and loyalty towards friends and family. Complex and fascinating man.
 

gwbasley

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 7, 2012
Messages
2,614
Reaction score
221
Location
Holiday, Florida
Buddy's statement about the weather and room conditions is very revealing. Even though he now uses mylar heads, his mindset is from a calfskin head perspective. Environmental, (especially humidity), changes have a drastic effect on skin heads and I would bet that Buddy's early experiences playing on them influenced that answer....my$.02!
 

Rick

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
244
Reaction score
132
Location
Atlanta
No need to care about what he says or feels about "tuning or tensioning" a drum just because he is Buddy Rich; no matter how great he was at playing the drums. I still feel exactly the same as I did before I read his quote as I do after I read it LOL.
Me too. I'm a huge Buddy Rich fan. Absolutely love his playing! And his snare drum, bass drum, and even floor tom (as sparingly as he used it) I thought always sounded great. But his rack tom to my ear sounds pretty narly in some of the videos. I've always gotten the impression that he didn't spend a lot of time tuning... excuse me, "tensioning"... that drum. LOL Anyway, it doesn't take anything away from his phenomenal (unparalleled IMO) playing. I just think, especially with today's drums and some of the tools we have, drums can be "tuned" and made to sound really nice.
 

cutaway79

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2016
Messages
452
Reaction score
153
Just because he was a good player, doesn't automatically mean he knows $|-|!t about anything else. I've met great drummers that don't even know the proper sizes of their drums. I've read multiple Buddy Rich quotes over the years that just sound like the ramblings of an egotistical jackass.
 

wayne

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2016
Messages
1,147
Reaction score
117
Location
canada
Maybe BR meant to say "personally desired tension"...it is a personal thing I assume?
 


Top