Nico Arnicho demonstrates Cajons made in MISSOM®

Nico Arnicho, a famous percussionist from Uruguay, demonstrates in these two videos how to use the Cajons made in MISSOM®.

It’s a great pleasure for us to introduce our instruments by such valuable players like Nico Arnicho, to who we send our best regards for his generosity. We hope that you can enjoy the videos!

Part 1

Part 2

Drumsticks as musician requires

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MISSOM® is for many people a name totally unknown. For others is a custom tool. We speak of a Portuguese brand created by Miguel Ralha, dedicated to the creation of drumsticks to drums and other musical instruments. Come with us and discover this musical universe.

By pronouncing the word drumsticks the image of the two “wood sticks” used to play drums arises immediately. There are those who say that they are an extension of the arms of drummer, however, not everyone knows that the simple design of these simple “sticks” – that can have different sizes, weights and thicknesses – can be much more complex than at first imagined view.

Let’s go to the discovery of MISSOM ®, a manufacturer of this tool so precious to the drummers, in Rua dos Navegantes, 73 in the city of Porto, Portugal.

Miguel Ralha, pioneer in creating custom drumsticks for percussion

Miguel Ralha, pioneer in creating custom drumsticks for percussion

To receive us is Miguel Ralha, craftsman and flute teacher in Gambozinos – Cultural Association. His journey began in 1978 as a craftsman, where he worked in various areas inside the craft. Music has always occupied a place in his life, having already played in groups like TocáRufar and Roda Viva. In fact, Miguel Ralha began teaching flute at age 15.

The request of friends and musicians to build some instruments led him to join the craft of music. A fusion which subsequently threw a new challenge: the creation of drumsticks to play drums. Uniting his own two vocations, Miguel Ralha with MISSOM® fulfill the project of a lifetime with preference for wooden instruments because it believes they are the best for student learning.

As recalled by Miguel Ralha, it all begin with the proposal of the musician Miguel Bernat, responsible for Drumming. “He had conceived some sticks that did not exist in the market and gave me the challenge to be the one to do them,” he says.

For at least one year, they both developed an intensive research prototypes until they reach the final model.

Neither the craftsman, not the musician, realized whatever was the work to build drumsticks. “The only thing Miquel Bernat knew is what he wanted in terms of performer, but he had no idea how it’s constructed or what kind of wood we would use,” confesses Miguel Ralha. Finally, the model was calculated and from it emerged other variants.

According to the explanation, the drumsticks of Miquel Bernat to multipercussion are used by him and Drumming in contemporary classical repertoire. Beyond the model Drumming, they also created “the model Tactus which are extremely stringent and designed to box orchestra and the model Hibrid that have a multifunctionality that makes a model two in one”, he explains. This was the first step to start MISSOM® brand.

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And curiosity imposes itself: why this name?

In a short and objective answer Miguel Ralha unraveled the mystery. “It was decided on a meeting of friends. On the one hand, as I call Miguel, friends and students call me Mi. The sound suggests the sound of the note Mi, then MISSOM. On the other side, and thinking about the possibility of internationalization, is a word that allows you to be read in any language.”

Wood, extent and time of life of drumsticks MISSOM®

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The choice of wood is one of the fundamental steps for the design of drumsticks. A wrong choice may compromise all the work that follows. The ash and rosewood are the basis of the production line of drumsticks MISSOM®, however, there is space for experimentation with other materials such as, for example, cherry wood or Ipê wood.

According to Miguel Ralha, “the ash is used for drumsticks of multipercussion such as snarde drums and skins. The rosewood for drums of Jazz and Orchestra”.

Also because the job requires raw material quality, investment is great and sometimes it is tempting to try to enjoy a little more of the wooden plank that often comes still with bark edges to the workshop of Miguel Ralha.

When this happens and the term thinking “this will do” is pronounced the work stops immediatly. “This will do” means “a big mistake” and does not worth risking and compromising the quality of the final product.

When we speak of woods there is also the need to define the measures and by extension the weight that each pair of drumsticks may have, still allied to the personal taste of each musician. If there are those who prefer longer drumsticks and heavy, there are others who prefer drumsticks shorter and lighter. The same goes for the time of life of this valuable tool can have. Some lasts a lifetime, others just about 30 minutes. Everything depends on the performer, repertoire and instruments played.

From the prototype to the final Drumstick

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The design of a model of drumsticks does not always translate into a peaceful process. For Miguel Ralha can develop a prototype with a musician that means working manually 10/12 pairs of “wooden chopsticks”, each of which can take five / six hours to get ready. For the craftsman, the stop only happens when the musician says: “This is what I want.”

And if Miguel Ralha had initially thought just making prototypes which wore then reproduced by another craftsman, the truth is that this demand has become fruitless, and the lack of rigor has been a major obstacle to overcome this idea.

Miguel Ralha states that the complicity and friendships that are created with the musicians and the fact that they are monitoring the entire creation process makes his work far more interesting. Incidentally, confesses that his greatest pleasure is to see the musicians perform their art with a pair of drumsticks Made in MISSOM®.

Instruments designed to detail

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Quality, innovation and ability to meet the demands of each musician are the watchwords that Miguel Ralha imposes on his work in MISSOM®, where the models are designed to the last detail, since they have a specificity that can go to the tenth millimeter.

Contrary to what one might think, the drumsticks also have sound and it is on the cymbals where it usually becames more complex. The rigor that involves each creation associated with the precision that some musicians impose on their art and how to perform leave no space for errors.

Since the beginning of the brand MISSOM® the challenge was high and, therefore, “it is essential that we have always this strict quality control so that we can ensure that the final product is impeccable,” said the artisan, noting that “we are not creating the gun powder dry. We are in a market where there are very strong companies that distribute throughout the world and have an amazing production capacity. To keep the brand MISSOM® it is necessary that our work allows us, on one hand, to innovate in certain aspects, and on the other side maintaining a versatility that responds to each request to us, since they are requests that a large company can not give. ”

Precisely because MISSOM® started working together with musicians recognized in the area of classical music and jazz, the words responsibility and requirement are two essential criteria of the brand.