Although drums have been in existence for what seems to be forever, the
drum kit could be considered young! The basic components of the drum kit
weren’t assembled in their modern form until the 1930’s! Also, in the
1970’,s the electronic drum kit emerged. This consisted of a set of pads with
pick-ups, like a guitars, inside that sensed the hit of stick. Today drum kits
of all kinds are played in pop bands, rock groups, jazz ensembles, and any other
group where a colorful beat is desired.
The basic ingredients of a drum kit are the bass drum, snare drum, and one
suspended cymbal, however many others have been added to make the combo more
Bass Drum - This rich drum sits vertically on legs holding it slightly above
the ground. It is played with a pedal to free the musicians hands.
Snare Drum - This drum is double-headed with strands of wire stretched across
the lower head. These wires, known as snares, produce the high-pitched rattling
snare drums are known for. When not needed a switch allows the musician to lower
these snares and remove the rattle from the drums sound.
Cymbals - The cymbals of a drum set include the hi-hat, the crash cymbal, and
the ride cymbal. The hi-hat produces its sound by the use of a pedal, which
clinks the two cymbals together, or by sticks, or both. The crash cymbal
produces a fantastic “crash” sound when hit with sticks, or a shimmering
sound when hit with brushes. Finally, the ride cymbal produces a full, ringing
sound when hit with sticks.
Others - Some other common additions to a drum kit include tom-toms.
Rack toms are are held above the bass drum and have a higher pitch than floor
toms which sit on a stand, suspended above the floor.
Drums are incredibly diverse instruments. The name is used by so many
different instruments. Drums can be dated back to whatever time man began
hitting things with something else to make noise. Since then, drums like the
bright steel drum, to the bouncy timbales have been associated with any type of
music where a beat is desired.
Frame drums are, as their name implies, drums with a frame. They include
the popular tambourine which uses metal disks on the frame to produce its
distinct, rattling sound.
Kettle drums are the family that timpani reside in. Although timpani can
have wonderful, brief, solos... they are rhythm percussion without a doubt.
Timpani players not only need great talent to strike the drum correctly, but to
tune the drum quickly and quietly in the middle of performances. This must be
done if a different pitch is needed.
Cymbals are bronze disks held at the center so the edges may vibrate.
They are found in virtually any music. They can produce a wide array of sounds
and have been in existence since their appearance in ancient Assyria.
Gongs are very interesting percussion instruments. A common gong is the
tam-tam, an instrument which produces a tremendous, filling noise. When struck,
it slowly gets louder and upon reaching its height, proceeds to die off.
Rattles include such instruments as the simple but well known maracas of
Latin America, and the highly elaborate Turkish Crescent. They also include the
simple, but festive sleigh bells. Aside from that, they include most anything
else that makes a sound when shaken!
Clappers are instruments whose sound comes from the “clapping” of two
devices, usually wood, together. They include the whip, a wooden instrument
developed for use in orchestras where an actual whip couldn’t have been used.
They also include the claves which produce one of the distinct sounds of Latin
Woodblocks are hollow blocks struck with a stick. They include the perky
temple blocks, which produce a sound like that made when hitting your cheeks
with your mouth open. As well, they include the simple woodblock which is as
says, a wooden block that is hit with a stick.
Scrapers make their sound from the action of a stick being dragged across
a series of notches. In instruments like the guiro, this is done manually by the
musician dragging a stick across another piece with notches in it. In a cog
rattle, the action is done with a simple mechanism that is whirled in the air.