Dunnett's Astute Sense of Rhythm Earns Him ITA's 2016 Titanium Applications Development Award
Musician, designer and innovator Ronn Dunnett is the recipient of the 2016 International Titanium Association’s (ITA) Titanium Applications Development Award. The award lauds Dunnett for his development of a precision titanium snare drum shell.
Members of the ITA's executive board will present Dunnett with the award at TITANIUM USA 2016, the 32nd annual international conference and exhibition sponsored and organized by the ITA, which will be held Sept. 25-28 at the J. W. Marriott Desert Ridge Golf Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.
"This is my Grammy award, my Oscar, my Nobel peace prize," an exuberant Dunnett said.
Dunnett, 54, grew up in the prairie town of Regina, Saskatchewan, just north of the Montana state border line, and eventually relocated to the Pacific Northwest region of Vancouver, Canada. His love for music and the drums took shape during his high school years. As a teenager he was self-taught and quickly learned he had a gift for music. He also developed an aptitude for tinkering with his drum gear.
In 1989, Dunnett and his wife, Christina, relocated in Australia. He worked as a photo lab technician commuted to work by riding a bike. He purchased a mountain bike and was intrigued by its light weight. During one of his commutes, a bar end accidentally became detached from the bike, hitting the concrete and making an unusual sound. Upon examining the component, Dunnett learned it was made of very thin titanium.
He and his wife returned to the Vancouver area in early 1991, but he kept thinking about the titanium bar end and the distinctive sound that it made. "I wondered what it would be like to make a drum shell out of titanium." He learned that a Boeing warehouse in nearby Seattle housed titanium scrap from its aerospace operations. He purchased titanium sheets and began to brainstorm. Dunnett did work in his own "factory" (a one-car garage), sought out a metal fabricator and, through a trial and error process, created a viable titanium snare drum shell prototype.
After several prototypes, Dunnett created a titanium snare drum, which he shared with his cousin Kurt Dahle, a renowned Canadian rock drummer. Dahle had a recording session in early 1992 and used the titanium snare in his drum set. Dahle called Dunnett after the recording session. "Can you make one of those titanium drum shells for me?" Dahle requested. "Oh, and by the way, the studio wants one, the producer wants one and the recording engineer wants one."
Dunnett has worked with and created "limited edition" titanium drums for major instrument builders such as DW Drums, Ludwig, GMS and others. As for describing titanium’s sonic properties when used as a drum shell, Dunnett said the metal creates an almost gong-like sound wave. In addition, titanium, as a drum shell material, eliminates the "organic weirdness" typically associated with wooden drum shells, according to Dunnett. His website (www.dunnett.com) provides technical details on the "Dunnett Classic" titanium drum shell properties.