Motor Rhythms

Motor Rhythms

December 24, 2011

iPad and SoundCloud

This post is not completely a Motor Rhythms post, but more of a technology post.  Technology, which I hope to use with the MR set once I am more familiar with the possibilities.  I recently purchased an iPad and have been spending the last few weeks finding apps and leaning how to use them.  There are some really great ideas out there for music and recording.  I also found SoundCloud, which I had not explored yet.  SoundCloud is a social networking site, but it is based around sounds.  You upload sounds that you like or that mean something to you.  It could be your band's new song, an outdoor field recording, or your child's first words.  That is the beauty of it, where ever you are you can record sound and upload it to your SoundCloud page.

visit the Motor Rhythms SoundCloud page here.....

So here are a few of my sounds.  The first is a sampled recording that I made using an app called Loopy HD.  I went around inside an auto repair shop and recorded several sounds including an oil pump, air ratchet, impact gun, and a vehicle lift. Then using the Loopy HD app I turned those sounds into beats.

The second is a short beat on the Motor Rhythm set.  It uses a wide variety of sounds from the kit.

Motor Swap Video

I replaced an engine last month and filmed the whole job.  Over eight hours of work are compressed into two and a half minutes.  The sounds are where Motor Rhythms comes in.  Using a looping app for the iPad I recorded several different sounds in an auto repair shop.  Some of the sounds include an oil pump, air ratchets, and impact guns.  Then I looped the sounds together to form the rhythms that are in the video.

I hope you enjoy it!

November 19, 2011

Receiver Drier Chimes

A receiver drier, also called an accumulator, is part of the air conditioning system on a car.  The receiver drier's job is to store liquid refrigerant and also remove debris and moisture from the a/c system. They are usually made from aluminum and inside they have desiccant material to absorb and hold moisture.  The receiver drier is replaced when a major repair has been done to the a/c system, like replacing the compressor or condenser.

Here is a receiver drier still on the vehicle.  They
are often located behind the front grill or bumper. 

Another receiver drier still on the vehicle.

After saving receiver driers for a while, I decided to see what could be done with them.  I began by dissembling one.  Using a hack saw I cut the top off of the drier.  Once the top was off, all the guts could be removed and I was left with a hollow cylinder.  I found that it sounded a lot like a chime.        

The internal parts of a receiver drier.

With a Korg CA-40 Tuner, a saw and a file I have been slowly cutting the chimes to tune them as close to each individual pitch as possible.  I do not replace a lot of receiver driers at work so it is a slow process to add new notes.  The goal is a full octave of chimes, like the pulley bells.  As of right now there are 9 chimes total, but they are not chromatic.  The receiver driers that I have now are from a variety of different types of cars including Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, and BMW.

For mounting the chimes I drilled two small 1/8" holes near the top of each chime.  Then I strung all of the chimes on a wire above the pulley bells.  They have a good tone and blend well with the rest of the Motor Rhythms set.

September 12, 2011

completed set photos

The Motor Rhythms drum set is complete! Well almost, there are a few minor bugs to work out. I would say it is about 95% complete.  Now I am focusing on getting a good quality sound and video recording of the set in action.

Here are some photos of the set and a list of all the pieces.

Instrument List

- Pulley Bells, 15 notes
- Receiver Drier Chimes, 9 notes
- Brake Drums, 4 tones
- Reservoir Drums, 4 total
- Air Cleaner Gongs, 2 tones
- Oil Trap Wood blocks, 4 tones
- Gas Tank Bass Drums, 2 total
- Flywheel hi-hats
- Washer Bottle foot drum

Oddly enough, regular drum sticks do not sound very good on the set, so I am using a variety of different mallets and beaters.  For sticks I have hard felt beaters, as well as rubber, hard plastic and brass mallets.  There are tennis ball beaters for the gas tank bass drums and a super ball beater for the washer bottle foot drum.


August 22, 2011

Drum Pedal Base Plate - tutorial

This blog post ran in the March 2012 issue of Modern Drummer. Here is a copy of the article.

July 16, 2011

2011 Drummies!

The results are in and The Forgotten Foot was one of the runners-up for drum book of the year in DRUM! Magazine's annual Drummies awards.  It is awesome to be on a list with such amazing drummers and authors.  Thanks to DRUM! Magazine and to everyone who voted.  Here is a link to the full results of all the polls.  The results are also in the August 2011 issue of DRUM! Magazine.   

Drummies! 2011 Results (click on media or scroll to bottom of the page for books)

The Forgotten Foot is now on Facebook.  After logging onto Facebook click here to visit the page, or just search for The Forgotten Foot.  I will be adding new photos and more content as I find time.  Stop by if you want to become a fan or leave a comment.     

April 13, 2011

April Update

Here is an update on the Motor Rhythms project and life in general.  In my free time I have been working on fixing some problems with the existing instruments and building a few new ones.  The most current creation is a set Receiver Dryer Chimes, which I will be posting about soon.

I was able to get in a snow hike at the end of March.  I turned 30 years old in March, so this was a bit of a  birthday hike.  I went with a friend who also turned 30 in March.  We went up to Mt. Baldy, which is the closest 10,000 foot peak in the LA area. It was a great hike.  I took us about 7 hours to make it to the top and back down.  Here are a few photos.

There will be more posts coming soon. I also hope to have some good quality video/audio in the next couple of months.

March 20, 2011

Kofi Baker drum clinic

The local Sam Ash Music store in Westminster, California hosted a drum clinic with Kofi Baker last week. Here are some photos from the event. The clinic also served as a book release for 'The Forgotten Foot'. Kofi played several solos, fielded questions, and handed out raffle prizes at the end. Thanks to Sam Ash for hosting the event, and for supporting the book. Throughout the rest of the year Kofi will be playing more clinics. Click on the link below to see if he will be in your area.

March 3, 2011

The Forgotten Foot update

The Forgotten Foot is done and now available!! It is awesome to see the finished product and to be hearing from drummers that have purchased the book.

This is the cover of the book. The photo is Kofi Baker at a concert.

I co-wrote this drum method with Kofi Baker. Kofi is the son of legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker. Kofi learned from his father and a lot of those lessons are reflected in the book. The purpose of the book is to highlight the importance of left foot independence and build a left foot that is an asset not a liability. The book goes through beginner to advanced lessons. There are six chapters which include Fundamentals, Rudiments, Rock Beats & Fills, Jazz & Shuffle, Double Bass and Foot Patterns. A CD is also included with the book.

The book is available mostly online right now, but Sam Ash music stores will have the book soon if they don't already. Here is a list of some of the vendors that are selling the book.

Sam Ash - online and in stores

Thomann UK Cyberstore - for Europe

Tom Lee Music - for Canada

Thanks to anyone who already purchased the book, and it would be great if you could write a short review on any of the above listed websites. Thanks again and take care,


January 25, 2011

Gas Tank Bass Drums

One of the main parts of a normal drum set is the bass drum. I knew my car part drum set would need some sort of bass drum. I decided the only option would be a gas tank. A gas tank that was made out of plastic, not metal. Most newer model vehicles have plastic gas tanks. They will never rust and they weigh less than metal tanks. I have been working for six years in the shop I am at now, and in those six years I had never replaced a gas tank. I did not have much hope that I would get one anytime soon so I decided to go to the junkyard and buy a used gas tank. On my lunch break one day, I drove over to our local junkyard and found a wall of gas tanks.

After pulling down different gas tanks and beating on them with drum sticks, I settled on a small tank from an early 2000's Ford Focus. It has a 10 or 12 gallon capacity. Once I got the tank back to the shop I removed the fuel pump and cleaned all the old gas out of it.

This is what the gas tank looks like still in the vehicle.

(part of the tank is covered by a heat shield to protect it from the exhaust)

As luck would have it, two months after I bought the used tank we got one in at the shop. A 2006 Chevy Express Van was towed in because someone had drilled a hole in the gas tank to steal all the gas. The customer needed a 700 dollar new gas tank, and I got the old one. This tank was a lot larger than the one from the junkyard. It is over 5 feet long, and has a 30 gallon capacity.

These are the holes that were drilled in the tank.

The trick for both gas tank drums turned out to be the beater. When I played them with a regular felt bass drum beater they did not sound very good. They had no resonance. After trying several options I discovered that a tennis ball made an excellent beater. So I made several beaters out of old tennis balls.

Here is what the two bass drums sound like. The small drum is the washer bottle foot drum from an earlier post.

January 9, 2011

Ear to the Ground

I wanted this to be one of the first posts on this blog, but it has taken until now to find the 'Ear to the Ground' video. First of all I need to give credit to my wife and our friend Liz for finding this video on YouTube. I had been looking for it for several months now.

I first saw part of this video, by David Van Tieghem, on Sesame Street when I was a little kid. It has stuck with me till now. If I were to point at one reason as to why in the fifth grade I wanted to play the drums, this would be it. It is also a big part of the reason I started this blog and the Motor Rhythms project.

David Van Tieghem is a percussionist, composer, and performer. Visit his website with the link below, and check out his other videos on YouTube.

Watch the 'Ear to the Ground' video below. This video was filmed in 1981, on the streets of New York City.