View Full Version : Why do drummers play behind the glass wall?
09-03-2004, 04:26 AM
I suppose I should know this being that I took drum lessons from age 8 up until I was almost 11 before my drum teacher moved away but I don't know and I thought about it now... Why do drummers always play behind glass?
I have an idea but I could be completely wrong, the only place I ever really played was in church when I was much younger but never used the glass wall thingie.
09-03-2004, 05:42 AM
Well? What's your idea?
WAG: They don't want the sound from the drums to pick up on the microphones of the other instruments, because they're loud enough already and don't need microphones.
09-03-2004, 06:10 AM
Which drummers? Where?
The nearest I've seen to this was Pete Townshend playing in a (plexiglass?) box on stage to save what's left of his hearing.
It must be to prevent sound leakage but I can't think this would be needed in a rock context, electric guitars can hold their own against a mere drummer.
Insuffcient data to compute. Need input.
09-03-2004, 06:23 AM
It's plexiglass, not glass.
It's to stop the sound from the drums getting to the other microphones on stage, and the sound of other instruments on stage from getting into the drum microphones. This makes for better overall sound, and is much better especially if they are recording the performance. Without the plexiglass you end up with bleeding between tracks, which affects the total sound quality when you try to mix all of the instruments together on the mixing board.
09-03-2004, 06:54 AM
In a smallish building, such as a church hall, drums are often simply too loud for the other instruments, even without amplification - you can turn up the level of all the others to compensate, but this results in a sound that is just too loud overall - putting the drumkit behind a wall allows the mix to be managed sensibly.
09-03-2004, 08:49 AM
Sometimes, you can't even afford plexiglass! Link (http://www.edentrap.com/Default.aspx?tabid=200&mid=637&ctl=Photo&ItemID=70) :D
Interesting OP. I had to read all the subsequent posts before I understood the OP's frame of reference. They play behind a glass wall, apparently, at concerts - enormously loud guitar and electric bass band concerts. Back in the day, my own frame of reference, players attended to a musical concept known as "balance." It meant that all players needed to listen to each other and to blend together in such a way so as to make each part a significant aspect of the whole. This meant sometimes playing what we used to call "quieter." Even when playing on a stage or in a larger hall, the individual musicianship of the players was central to the way the work sounded, including the way one modified one's dynamics. (Dynamics is a term that refers to the relative loudness and forcefullness of the music.) Top-notch ensemble playing, particularly in improvisational forms such as jazz, required players with great ears, to listen to one another and to adjust accordingly. Apparently, today's music, particularly concert form, does not require some of the same features as it once did. Incidentally, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as several others I'd imagine, has experimented with plexiglass barriers between the percussion section and the rest of the band, meaning that, despite the sarcastic tone of my response, certain composers wrote in such a way that meant even the finest of musicians could not avoid overpowering other players, thus necessitating such measures.
09-03-2004, 10:18 AM
In can answer the "where" part some people asked.
You see this a lot on small stages, in particular TV studios (ie: The Tonight Show Band, The CBS Orchestra from Letterman's show and the Saturday Night Live Band usually have the drummer behind glass.)
09-03-2004, 10:44 AM
Sounds shields are often used as a courtesy to other musicians. When I played in the El Paso Symphony, I was seated with the timpani right behind me and the piccolo to my left. I believe that the timpani always had a shield around it. We used one more than once to keep the piccolo from deafening us. We also once had the whole orchestra shielded. This was when we were performing with the Moody Blues. We all had individual microphones, so it didn't matter that the shields were blocking the audience from hearing us directly. Although there may have been some issues with sound from the band getting picked up by our microphones, i believe the shields were also required in the musicians' contracts. (I didn't have a contract.)
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