The History Of The Drumset Essay Research

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The History Of The Drumset Essay, Research Paper The History of the Drumset Drums are among the most ancient and diverse of all musical instruments (Jaffe 2). The power of the rhythm and drums has long been respected (2). The drumset however, in its current configuration, is a relatively recent addition to the percussionist’s repertoire. It has only been in existence since around the 1930s (Aldriage 5). This information introduces the question of how did the drumset evolve to its current condition? In his book Guide to Vintage Drums, John Aldriage states “the evolution of the drumset has been a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ proposition from the start, with trends coming and going and repeating themselves later” (30). That statement just barely begins to

illustrate the extensive past behind the history of the drumset. The influence that Africa had can be traced back to the drumset’s earliest forms. That influence was originally brought over by the North American slave trade. The slave trade brought over new percussion ideas and instruments. When Americans saw those instruments they began to create different versions of them, which would later evolve to be part of the percussionist’s repertoire. For example, the dundun. The dundun is an hourglass-shaped, two-headed drum whose twin heads are laced together by thongs of gut or leather (Hart, 52). By manipulating the tension on these thongs a player can alter the pitch of the tone he is making, thus enabling the dundun to “talk”, or produce tones that sound like words (52).

This allows him to communicate with neighboring tribes (52). Americans took this idea and converted it into a single-head drum, constructed of brass, in which a foot pedal altered the pitch of the drum. This drum was first called the kettledrum and was later renamed to the timpani drum (”Early Percussion”). Another influence to the drumset was the symphonic percussion instruments. These instruments originated in the European area. They spanned a wide array of instruments such as mallet percussion, timpani, bass drums, woodblocks, cymbals, “knick nacks” used to create sound effects, and many others. The last main influence to the drumset was the early (1790s-1890s) marching percussion instruments. The primary reason for a marching percussion section was to provide a tempo

for troops to march along with. Every modern army at the time developed a drum language to control the flow of the troops, whether they were marching between camps or in battle (Hart 51). The two primary instruments in this section were the snare and bass drums. This required a minimum of two players. Up until the late 1800s bands required 2 or 3 percussionists to cover all of the parts. In the early 1900s percussionists began to play with brass bands. To accommodate the lack of space, a “set-up” to have one drummer play three parts was created (Falzerano 22). Drummers used elements from around the world to create a new instrument originally known as a “contraption”, later shortened to the “trapset” (Hart 184). The early configuration standards for a “trapset”

consisted of a snare drum, bass drum, and a cymbal that were all struck with the drummer’s sticks. Later on drummers began ransacking the percussive inventory (184). They took elements from all over the planet (184). “The first addition to the drumset after the bass drum, cymbal, and snare drum were the sound effects” (Aldriage 11). The most important of the sound effects added to the trapset were the chinese toms. They were relatively thin and about 10 inches in diameter. On each side they had a batter head that was held to they shell of the drum by tacs. On each individual head there was a painting of various chinese figures. (Barclay, Lecture) Shortly following the new additions they began to develop ways to simplify their playing and to involve their legs. This included