In the Upper Paleolithic era, approximately 30,000 years ago, man figured out the art of making a drum using animal skin. The drum kit has long been at the heart of popular music.
In the late 1800s, separate percussionists were assigned to cymbals and drums in military and concert bands. Indoor concerts, on the other hand, had obvious physical constraints and therefore percussionists often had to do double shifts.
A smart solution to this issue was to get feet (Pedal driven) in the action. In 1909, William F. Ludwig, Head of the Ludwig Drum Co. helped drummers do just that when he pioneered a foot pedal for the bass drum. One drummer could then play multiple parts together simultaneously.
The evolution of drums
Basic drum then started evolving gradually began to take shape. A snare drum and cymbal, both stand-mounted so that a drummer could play seated, joined the bass drum.
But drummers wanted a little more and so the drum set evolved to include a pair of tom-toms and also holding horns, whistles and various other noisemakers.
In the 1920s the cymbal received a pedal, like the bass drum had done in the previous decade.
The drum modified further as a long list of percussionists of all stripes demanded certain changes to suit their styles. After the arrival of modern drum kit, artists began using the ride cymbal to delineate time in a swinging way, and this pattern is still the basic rhythmic unit of jazz.
In the 1950s, as more drummers took their kits to the roadside, they experienced technical difficulties when their drumheads, made from animal skins, got out of whack due to fluctuations in humidity and fluctuation. In response, the first Mylar polyester film drumhead was developed which allowed for consistent sound and easy maintenance, with a quicker response than its animal-skin counterpart.
Modern drums & drummers
Rock became the real voice in the next decade, thanks to the powerful sound-reinforcement equipment. Drummers adapted by modifying their kits to compete with electric guitars and basses. Manufacturers responded to this need for loudness by producing kits with greater numbers of components and by thickening their cymbals.
Another big development came in the ‘80s, was the introduction of MIDI technology allowing communication with drums using soft pads. The earliest electronic drums had physical advantages over traditional drums, not only were they compact but could also be used silently with headphones. Despite the early rejection by some skeptics the use of electronic drums continues to increase.
Interested in taking drum lessons? Kathryn Brickell Music school offers private drum instruction in the comfort of your own home. We service areas in NYC, Manhattan, Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Suffolk County and all other surrounding areas. Contact us today.