Genuine Rawhide Drums & the Effects of Weather & Humidity
When they are first made, handmade rawhide drums are tied tightly; however, this will vary from one maker to the next. Tightness depends a great deal on the relative humidity and the temperature as well as the thickness of the hide. While a rawhide drum might be very tight in one area of the country, it could be less tight and even sound flat if the humidity is high in another part of the country. If the humidity is particularly high and the drum is outside, a normally nice sounding drum can sound rather flat.
When singers are at an outdoor powwow and have a supper break or similar period of not singing, they will quite often cover the drum with a blanket to help keep it warm. If the sun is still up, they often stand the drum on its side in the sun to help keep it tight and have at times been known to use a hair dryer to help warm it up. The Osage Tribe has a special position in their Ilonshka Dance that is known as "Drum Warmer". This is normally filled by two fellows who warm the drum before the dance in order to keep it at the right tightness, depending on the weather at the time.