The Pictish drum reconstruction is now complete, at least mark 1 is. Reviewing the lacing tensioning technique it may not be identical to the one held in the Angus Museums archive. However the end result is most satisfying and tonally the drum compares very well. The construction method was as close to early medieval techniques as could be replicated. Dick Craig, greenwood craftsman, commissioned to build the drum has done a magnificent job and the building process has been documented throughout.
The next stage of the project will be to field test the drum in situ. Although no evidence exists that any instruments were ever used on the site of Wemyss caves, the playing and recording of the drum on site and within the acoustic environment of the caves will add an extra dimension to the auralisation project; that of musicology. It is hoped that percussionist Ronnie Goodman will accompany the field work team to play the drum.
Top left the carved out birch log ready for the heads and tensioning cords. The leather used on the drum are locally sourced (North East Scotland) Roe deer hides traditionally cured. The soaked tanned drum heads held in place with raw hide cords ready to be laced. Above right Dick Craig and I took a couple of attempts to get the lacing started in a manner that would resemble the archive artefact. Once we had the knack things came together quite quickly.
The drum was left at the Scottish Woodland Skills centre for initial drying, after a few days I was able to take the drum away to dry out and tension up properly.
Now compared to recordings taken of the artefact in the Angus Museums archive they sound remarkably alike. Field recordings and more controlled studio recordings are planned for completion with a film documentary scheduled for August. Please keep you eye on the main hub for an update.
A huge thanks to Dick Craig at the Scottish Woodland Skills Centre for his expertise and willingness to help.
The drum can be visually compared to the archive artefact in previous posts.
The rambling thoughts and musings of an audio engineer/sound designer turned archaeoacoustician