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When you listen to music you often miss just how much work has gone into its production before it ever reaches you. Some of it is art and some of it qualifies as pure manipulation. On the artistic side of it, include drum production. The way drums are commonly recorded in most "rock" music puts you on the drum throne. Essentially, you are not hearing the drums where they would be if you were facing the drum kit as an audience member, rather you are hearing them as they would be placed in relation to your body, were you the drummer. This means the snare drum is more prominent in the left speaker than the right, as that is where the drum would be in relation to you, if you were drumming (admittedly this would be reversed if you were left-handed).

The toms are spaced out in such a manner that the higher toms (commonly placed to the left of the other toms) are mixed more to the left speaker and vice-versa for the lower toms commonly placed on the right. Listening to Slayer or some other band with a drummer who uses a lot of toms this becomes very clear. The overall effect of this is to give you the impression you are not facing the band, so much as part of the band, right there, involved in the music.

When producing drums one of the main factors is how many microphones you can devote to each sound. Depending on what equipment you are using you can have any number of microphones on a drum kit. If you are limited by how many tracks you can have going into the main mixing board you can set up another mixing board just for drums and mix those seperately and add them into the mix later. This all depends on how much equipment you have access to.

Some drummers go a little overboard when it comes to microphones. On the and justice for all... album Lars Ulrich was said to have miked each drum and cymbal with at least 3 microphones. He basically went back and listened to the drum mix later and picked out which of the 3 mikes picked up exactly what he wanted at any given moment and used that mike for that individual note. A bit excessive, especially if you don't have all the money in the world, but that is one way to do it.

A more economically sensible way to do it is to mike each drum with a single microphone pointed at the spatial center of the drum. Not the center of the drum head, but the center of the drum itself. Also, keep the mikes pointed away from other drums lest they pick up extra noise from those drums. It might seem easier to put the mikes as far away from the drummer as possible (so they don't hit them), but that often leaves you with microphones pointing towards other drums. For the cymbals, use individual mikes, if you can afford it, or use ambient mikes that pick up everything in the room. Mix these ambient mikes in such a way so as to drop out all the bass. This way they only pick up treble and act as cymbal mikes quite nicely.

For live production it totally depends what side of the production you'll be on. If you're playing, the main rule is don't piss off the sound guy. Be polite to the sound guy and he will make you sound good. If he is incompetent, you're sort of lost anyway. If you can afford your own sound people, all the better, make sure you communicate your needs to them. If you *are* the sound guy then be prepared. Have as many mikes as you're going to need. If it is a punk rock show, 3 to 4 mikes will do. Get the snare and bass sounding great and just toss the cymbals and toms on the same mikes if you want. It won't make a hell of a lot of difference for a lot of punk stuff. It you're producing a jazz band, get everything as clean as possible, mike everything. Ultimately, the rule is be prepared.

When recording as the drummer, or when advising a drummer on how to play, make sure you note that steady playing is key. It's important that every snare hit be approximately as loud as the last one (assuming that's how you want it and you're not using ghost notes or anything). One thing that ruins drum production is when the drums don't sound the same from note to note. The drum will just sit there doing nothing until you hit it. Your playing it is important and needs to be even, lest it just sound like crap.

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