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|The drum kit|
The traditional drum kit consists of a mix of drums (classified as classically as membranophones, Hornbostel-Sachs high-level classification 2) and idiophones (Hornbostel-Sachs high-level classification 1, most significantly cymbals but also including the woodblock and cowbell for example). More recently kits have also included electronic instruments (Hornbostel-Sachs classification 53), with both hybrid and entirely electronic kits now in common use.
- A snare drum, mounted on a stand, placed between the player's knees and played with drum sticks (which may include rutes or brushes)
- A bass drum, played by a pedal operated by the right/left foot
- A hi-hat stand and cymbals, operated by the left foot and played with the sticks, particularly but not only the right hand stick
- One or more tom-tom drums, played with the sticks
- One or more cymbals, played with the sticks
All of these are classed as non-pitched percussion, allowing for the music to be scored using percussion notation, for which a loose semi-standardized form exists for the drum kit. If some or all of them are replaced by electronic drums, the scoring and most often positioning remains the same, allowing a standard teaching approach. The drum kit is usually played seated on a drum stool or throne. The drum kit differs in general from those traditional instruments that produce melody or chords/pitch per se: even though drums are often placed musically alongside others that do, such as the piano or stringed instruments. (See Peter Magadini "The Drummers Guide to Music theory",2004,published by Hal Leonard, on the 'Elements of Music' & 'Form'pp. 6–18;48-52)
Many drummers extend their kits from this basic pattern, adding more drums, more cymbals, and many other instruments including pitched percussion. In some styles of music particular extensions are normal, for example double bass drums in heavy metal music. On the other extreme but more rarely, some performers omit elements from even the basic setup, also dependent on the style of music and individual preferences.
- 1 History
- 2 Components
- 2.1 Terminology
- 2.2 Drums
- 2.3 Cymbals
- 2.4 Other acoustic instruments
- 2.5 Electronic drums
- 2.6 Hardware
- 3 Common configurations
- 4 Accessories
- 5 Playing
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The first recognizable ancestors of the modern drum kit were born in the Vaudeville era and specifically the 1920s of New Orleans's. Pecuniary and theater space considerations demanded that fewer percussionists cover more percussion parts. In military and orchestral music settings, drums and cymbals were traditionally played separately by one or many percussionists. The bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, and other percussion instruments were all played using hand-held drum sticks. Circa 1890, experimentation with foot pedals began. Many patented their systems such as Dee Dee Chandler of New Orleans 1904-05. Liberating the hands for the first time, this evolution saw the bass drum played with the foot of a standing percussionist (thus the term "kick drum") and became the central piece around which every other percussion instruments would later revolve. Ludwig-Mussier, William F. Ludwig, Sr., and his brother, Theobald Ludwig, founded the Ludwig & Ludwig Co. in 1909 and patented the first workable bass drum pedal system, paving the way for what was to become the modern drum kit. It was the golden age of drum building for many famous drum company's with Ludwig introducing... "The ornately engraved Black Beauty Brass Snare drum; Slanderer premiered its Radio King solid Maple shell; Needy invented the floating drum head & self-aligning lug;& Gretchen originated the three-way tension system of the Gladstone snare drum". (Latter Quote from pages 5–6 of Jon Cohan's "Star Sets- Drum kits of the Great Drummers", with a forward by Bill Bruford).
By World War I, drum kits were characterized by very large bold marching military bass drums and many percussion items suspended on and around them, and they became a central part of jazz music, specifically (but not limited to) dixieland. Metal consoles were only later developed to hold Chinese tom-toms, with swing out stands for snare drums and cymbals. On top of the console was a "contraption" tray (shortened to "trap"), used to hold items like whistles, klaxons, and cowbells, so these drums/kits were dubbed "trap kits". Hi-hat stands became available around 1926. As early as 1918 Baby Dodds ( Warren "Baby" Dodds circa 1898-1959), playing on riverboats with Louis Armstrong on the Mississippi, was modifying the Military marching set up that existed in the early century and he began experimenting using rims instead of woodblocks, hitting cymbals with sticks in 1919 which was not normalized and creating a side cymbal above the bass drum; we now know this today as the Ride Cymbal. William Ludwig's "Sock" or early (low)High- Hat was made using observations of Dodds drumming and his foot measurements on paper- when he met Dodds on a St. Louis riverboat & saw him always tapping his left foot all the time. Baby Dodds had Ludwig raise the newly produced low Hats that Ludwig brought him, 9 inches higher,as it was easier to play: and then we have a High Hat beginning! The evidence for all the above on Dodds, is found in Dodds own contemporary journals/biography "The Baby Dodds Story" -Louisiana State University Press, 1992, & also by contemporary witness- Drummer Gearge Wettling, who confirms Dodds was the first drummer to also keep a now famous broken triplet beat that became the standard pulse/roll of what we call ride cymbal playing. Baby Dodds, also made popular the use of Chinese cymbals- [pages 8–9, Jon Cohan's- "Star Sets"- Wording,see page nine; paragraphs 1-4 and see above paragraphs for ISBN & pub/date] Further: see the Percussive Arts Society, 'Hall of Fame' Article, by Rick Mattingly- pasorg].
By the 1930s, Ben Duncan and others popularized streamlined trap kits leading to a basic four piece drum set standard: bass, snare, tom-tom, and floor tom. In time legs were fitted to larger floor toms, and "consolettes" were devised to hold smaller tom-toms on the bass drum. Chick Webb, & Gene Krupa at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem; throughout the 1930s increased the visual and musical driving force of the drummer and their equipment by simply being so popular and in demand- and they ensured that their drum kits became not only functionally developed but dazzling and well designed. (ref: J. Cohan page 13- entire page). In the 1940s, Louie Bellson pioneered the use of two bass drums, or the double bass drum kit. Gene Krupa was the first drummer to head his own orchestra and thrust the drums into the world spotlight with his drum solos. Others would soon follow his lead. Krupa is also known to have been the first to record a drum solo on a commercial record.
In this era, Jazz drummers were highly influential in developing both the concept of the modern drum kit and extending the playing techniques. Important drummers of the jazz tradition included Gene Krupa, "Papa" Jo Jones, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Morello, and many more.
Rock and Roll
With the ascendance of rock and roll, a watershed moment occurred between 1962 and 1964 when the Surfaris released "Wipe Out", as well as when Ringo Starr of The Beatles played his Ludwig kit on American television; these were events that motivated legions to take up the drums.
A trend towards bigger drum kits in Rock music began in the 1960s and gained momentum in the 1970s. By the 1980s, widely popular drummers like Billy Cobham, Carl Palmer, Nicko McBrain, Phil Collins, Stewart Copeland, Simon Phillips and Neil Peart were using large numbers of drums and cymbals and had also begun using electronic drums. In the 1990s and 2000s, many drummers in popular music and indie music reverted to the basic four piece drum set standard.
In the 21st century, it has not been uncommon for drummers to use a variety of auxiliary percussion instruments, found objects, and electronics as part of their "drum" kits. Popular electronics include: electronic sound modules; laptop computers used to activate loops, sequences and samples; metronomes and tempo meters; recording devices; and personal sound reinforcement equipment (e.g., a small PA system to amplify electronic drums and provide a monitor for singing) and triggers.
On early recording media (until 1925) such as wax cylinders and discs carved with an engraving needle, sound balancing meant that musicians had to be literally moved in the room. Drums were often put far from the horn (part of the mechanical transducer) to reduce sound distortion. Since this affected the rendition of cymbals at playback, sound engineers of the time remedied the situation by asking drummers to play the content of the cymbals onto woodblocks, temple blocks, and cowbells for their loudness and short decay.
This recording-specific particularity had the effect of altering the evolution of the drum set and of stigmatizing the sound of the music recorded at the time.
The drum kit featured in almost all rock and roll songs and the Rock and Roll period played a big role in modernizing the drum kit.
Breakables, shells, extensions, hardware
The drum kit may be loosely divided into four parts:
- The breakables: Sticks, various cymbals, snare drum, and sometimes the bass drum pedal, stool
- The shells: Bass drum and toms
- Extensions: Cowbell, tambourine, any other instrument not part of the standard kit
- Hardware: Cymbal stands, drum stands, pedals
There are several reasons for this division. When more than one band plays in a single performance, the drum kit is often considered part of the backline, and shared between the drummers. Often the main drawcard act will provide the drums, as they are being paid more, possibly have the better gear, and in any case have the prerogative of using their own. However sticks, snare drum and cymbals are commonly swapped, each drummer bringing their own, and sometimes other components. The term breakables in this context refers to whatever basic components the "guest" drummer is expected to bring.
Similar considerations apply if using a house kit (a drum kit owned by the venue), even if there is only one band at the performance.
The snare drum and cymbals are the core of the breakables, as they are particularly critical and individual components of the standard kit, in several related ways.
- Their tone varies a great deal from drummer to drummer, reflecting their individual styles and the styles of music they play.
- The snare drum often does not match the kit, for example being a metal or plain wood shell in a kit where the other drums are in a matching finish.
- Drummers tend to spend more on snare and cymbals than on the other drums.
- Thin and/or bell metal cymbals are easily broken by poor technique.
- Many drummers use thinner heads on their snare than the other drums.
- Often, a drummer will retain their snare drum and cymbals when upgrading the rest of the kit, or upgrade cymbals or snare while keeping the other drums.
Much the same considerations apply to bass drum pedals and the stool, but these are not always considered breakables, particularly if changeover time between bands is very limited. Swapping the snare drum in a standard kit can be done very quickly. Replacing cymbals on stands takes longer, particularly if there are many of them, and cymbals are easily damaged by incorrect mounting, so many drummers prefer to bring their own cymbal stands.
See Common configurations below for typical drum sizes.
Traditionally, in America drum sizes were expressed as depth x diameter, both in inches but in The United Kingdom it was the other way round. More recently, many drum kit manufacturers have begun to express their sizes in terms of diameter x depth; again in the measure of inches.
Manufacturers still using the American traditional format in their catalogues include these:
Those using the more European measures of diameter x depth include these:
- Brady Drum Company
- Mapex Drums
- Meinl Percussion
- Pearl Drums
- Premier Percussion
- Rogers Drums
- Yamaha Drums
For example, a hanging tom 12" in diameter and 8" deep would be described by Tama as 8" x 12", but by Pearl as 12" x 8", and a standard diameter Ludwig snare drum 5" deep is a 5" x 14", while the U.K.'s Premier Manufacturer offers the same dimensions as: a 14" x 5" snare.
The snare drum is essentially the centre of the kit. It provides the strongest regular accents, played by the left hand (if right handed), and the backbone for many fills. It produces its distinctive sound due to the snare wires fitted to the underside of the drum which buzz and vibrate against the bottom drum skin.
Tom-tom drums or toms for short are drums without snares and played with sticks (or whatever tools the music style requires), and are the most numerous drums in almost all kits. They provide the bulk of most drum fills and solos.
- Traditional double-headed rack toms, of varying depths
- Floor toms
- Single-headed concert toms
The naming of common configurations is largely a reflection of the number of toms, as only the drums are conventionally counted, and these configurations all contain one snare and one or more bass drums, (though not regularly any standardized use of 2 bass/kick drums) the balance usually being in toms.
The bass drum (also known as the "kick drum") gives a regular but often varied foundation to the rhythm. As a generalization on styles one could say that beginner drum kit players tend to play simple bass drum patterns, moderate players complex ones, with numerous strokes, and more accomplished players, the more subtle/nuanced rhythmic patterns with fewer strokes. The bass drum is the lowest pitched sounding drum and usually provides the basic beat or timing element with basic pulse patterns. Some drummers may use two or more bass drums or prefer to play with a double bass drum pedal, giving the ability to play a double bass drum style with only one bass drum and that also saves space in recording/performance areas.
Octobans/Rocket toms (Pearl)/Deccabons were designed for use within a drum kit, extending the Tom range upwards in pitch by their depth; rather than by their diameter.
Timbales are tuned much higher than a tom of the same diameter, and normally played with very light thinner sticks. They have relatively thin, fragile heads and a very different tone to a tom, but are used by some drummers/percussionists to extend the tom range upwards. Alternatively, they can be fitted with tom heads and tuned as shallow concert toms. Attack Timbales and mini timbales are reduced diameter timbales designed specifically for drum kit usage, the smaller diameter allowing for thicker heads for the same pitch and head tension and are clearly recognizable in Modern genres and in more traditional forms of Latin, Reggae & numerous world music styles too .
Similarly, most hand drum percussion cannot be played easily or suitably, with drum sticks without risking damage to the head and to the bearing edge, which is not protected by a drum rim. For use in a drum kit they may be fitted with a suitable drum head and played with care, or require playing by hand.
Cymbals are as important in most drum kits and drum/percussion kit scenarios, as the drums themselves. The oldest idiophones in music are cymbals, and were used throughout the Ancient near East very early in the Bronze Age period most associated with Turkey and Turkish craftsmanship, where Zildjian has predominantly made them since 1623.
Beginners cymbal packs normally contain four cymbals: one ride, one crash, and a pair of hi-hats. A few contain only three cymbals, using a crash/ride instead of the separate ride and crash. The sizes closely follow those given in Common configurations below.
Most drummers soon extend this by adding another crash, a splash a china/effects cymbal; or even all of those last mentioned.
Most drummers have a single main ride, located near their right hand,(& within easy playing reach as it is used very regularly) most often a 20" sizing but 16"-24" diameters are not uncommon. It is most often a heavy, or medium standard weighted cymbal that cuts through other instrumental sounds, but some drummers use a swish cymbal, sizzle cymbal or other exotic or lighter metal rides, as the main or only ride in their kit, particularly for jazz, gospel or ballad/folk sounds. In the 1960s Ringo Starr used a sizzle cymbal as a second ride particularly for use during guitar solos.
The hi-hat has a similar function to the ride cymbal; The two are rarely played consistently for long periods at the same time, but one or the other, usually is employed to keep the finer rhythm much of the time within a piece of music. Played by the right stick of a right-handed drummer. Changing between ride and hi-hat, or between either and a leaner sound with neither, is often used to mark a change from one passage to another, for example to distinguish verse and chorus.
The crash cymbals are usually the strongest accent markers within the kit, marking crescendos and climaxes, vocal entries, and major changes of mood/swells and effects. A crash cymbal is usually accompanied simultaneously, by a strong kick on the bass drum pedal, both for musical effect and to support the stroke. It provides a fuller sound when played thus and is a taught technique.
In the very smallest kits, in jazz, and at very high volumes, ride cymbals may be played in with the technique and sound of as crash cymbal. Some hi-hats will also give a useful crash, particularly thinner hats or those with an unusually severe taper. At low volumes, producing a good crash from a cymbal not particularly suited to it is a highly skilled art. Alternatively, specialised crash/ride and ride/crash cymbals are specifically designed to combine both functions.
All cymbals other than rides, hi-hats and crashes/splashes are more often called effects cymbals when used in a drum kit, though this is a non-classical or colloquial designation that has become a standardized label.
Most extended kits include one or more splash cymbals and at least one china cymbal. Major cymbal makers produce cymbal extension packs consisting of one splash and one china, or more rarely a second crash, a splash and a china, to match some of their starter packs of ride, crash and hi-hats. However any combination of options can be found in the marketplace.
Some cymbals may be considered effects in some kits but in another a basic set of components . A swish cymbal may for example serve as the main ride in some styles of music, but in a larger kit which includes a conventional ride cymbal as well it may well be considered an effects cymbal per se.
Cymbals of whatever type used to provide an accent rather than a regular pattern or groove are known as accent cymbals. While any cymbal can be used to provide an accent, the term is applied more correctly to cymbals whose main or most often sole purpose is to provide an accent. Accent cymbals include chime cymbals, small bell domed cymbals or those with a clear sonorous/oriental chime to them like specialized crash and splash cymbals and many china types too, particularly the smaller and/or thinner ones.
Other acoustic instruments
Other instruments that have regularly been incorporated into drum kits include:
- Wood block and cowbell. These are traditional in classical or culturally rich forms of music
- Tambourine, particularly mounted on the hi-hat stand above the cymbals; an ordinary tambourine can be used, or a tambourine produced specially for drum kit use
- Timbales can be used to extend the ring of tom-toms, particularly when the drummer owns them for other musical settings; a traditional timbale is tuned far higher than a tom of the same diameter, so the result is not always the most ideal (see also Timbales#Non-traditional use)
- Xylophone or glockenspiel
- Tubular bells
- Bar chimes/orchestral chimes
- Found objects, including spanners, brake drums, buckets, cardboard boxes, and jam and kerosene tins (anything ordinary that can be percussively struck to produce sounds, patterns and grooves for their setting)
See also Extended kits below.
As well as providing an alternative to a conventional acoustic drum kit, electronic drums can be incorporated into an acoustic drum kit to supplement it.
This is possible in two ways:
- Triggers are sensors that can be attached to drum kit components. In this way, an electronic drum sound will be produced when the instrument is played/struck, as well as the original sound voiced by the instrument being available if so desired .
- Trigger pads can be mounted alongside other kit components. These pads make no significant acoustic sound themselves (if not modified to do otherwise), but are used purely to trigger the electronic sound, within the electronic source and are played with the same drum sticks as are used on other drum kit components.
In either case, a control unit (module/"brain") with suitable sampled/modeled sounds, and amplification equipment are both required. see Electronic drum#Acoustic triggered drum kit.
A trigger pad can contain up to four independent sensors, each of them capable of sending to the drum module/brain, information describing the timing and dynamic intensity of a stroke. A circular drum pad may only have one sensor for triggering, but a modern cymbal-shaped rubber pad/cymbal will often contain two, one for the body and one for the bell of the cymbal, and perhaps a choke facility.
Trigger sensors are most commonly used to replace the acoustic drum sounds, but they can often also be used effectively with an acoustic kit to augment or supplement an instruments sound for the needs of the session. For example, in a live performance in a difficult acoustical space, a Trigger may be placed on each drum or cymbal, and used in each case to trigger a similar sound. These sounds are then able to be amplified through the PA so all the audience hears that, and they can be amplified to any level without the feedback or bleed problems associated with microphones in certain settings.
The sound of the drums and cymbals themselves is heard by the drummer and possibly other musicians in close proximity, but even so, the foldback system will be fed from the electronic sounds rather than the live acoustic sounds. The drums can be heavily dampened (made to resonate less or subdue the sound), and their tuning and even quality is less critical in the latter scenario. In this way therefore: much of the atmosphere of the live performance is retained in a large venue but without some of the problems associated with purely microphone amplified drums.
Triggers/sensors, can also be used in conjunction with conventional or built-in microphones. If some components of a kit prove more difficult to "mike" than others, Triggers may be used on only the more difficult instruments,balancing out a drummers/bands sound via the mix.
Trigger pads/drums on the other hand, when deployed in a conventional set-up, are most commonly used to produce sounds not possible to produce with an acoustic kit, or at least not with what is available. Any sound that can be sampled/recorded- can also be played, when the pad is struck by assigning the recorded sounds to specific items . Recordings of barking dogs, sirens, braking glass and stereo recordings of aircraft taking off and landing have all been used to great effect. As well as the more obvious electronically generated sounds there are human voices or song parts or even movie audio or digital video/pictures that (depending on device used can also be played/triggered.
The term commonly refers to a type of software that simulates a functional drum kit. Different drum software products offer a variety of features including a recording function, ability to select from several visually and acoustically distinctive drum kits as well as the option to incorporate different songs into the session. This is mostly on mobile or tablet format but not exclusively.
Hardware is carried along with sticks and other accessories in the traps case, and includes:
- Cymbal stands
- Hi-hat stand
- Floor tom feet
- Hanging tom brackets or arms
- Snare drum stand
- Bass drum pedal or pedals
- Drum key
Particularly for large kits, many or even all of the stands may be replaced by a drum rack.
Drum kits are traditionally categorised by the number of drums, ignoring cymbals and other instruments. Snare, tom-tom and bass drums are always counted; Other drums such as octobans may or may not be counted.
The sizes of drums and cymbals given below are typical. Many drummers differ slightly or radically from them. Where no size is given, it is because there is too much variety to call a typical size.
A basic, conventional three-piece kit consists of bass drum, 14" diameter snare drum, 12"-14" hi-hats, and a single 12" diameter hanging tom 8"–9" in depth and a suspended cymbal in the range 14"–18", both mounted on the bass drum.
Such kits were common in the 1950s and 1960s and may still be found in small acoustic dance bands. It is a common configuration for kits sold through mail order, and, with smaller size drums and cymbals, for very young drummers.
A four-piece kit extends the three-piece by one tom, either a second hanging tom mounted on the bass drum and often displacing the cymbal, or a floor tom. Normally another cymbal is added as well, so there are separate ride and crash cymbals, either on two stands, or the ride on the bass drum to the player's right and the crash on a stand.
The standard cymbal sizes are 16" crash and 18"–20" ride, with the 20" ride most common.
Four piece with floor tom
The floor tom is most often 14" for jazz, and 16" otherwise.
Many historic bands and early rock music recordings used this configuration, notable users including Ringo Starr in the Beatles, Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, John Barbata in the Turtles and many others.
The four-piece kit with floor tom remains popular, particularly for jazz.
Four piece with two hanging toms
If a second hanging tom is used, it is 10" diameter and 8" deep for fusion, or 13" diameter and one inch deeper than the 12" diameter tom otherwise, or very occasionally a 14" diameter hanging tom is added to the 12", both being 8" deep. In any case, both toms are most often mounted on the bass drum with the smaller of the two next to the hi-hats, on the left for a right-handed drummer.
These kits are particularly useful for smaller venues where space is limited.
The five-piece kit is the full entry level kit and the most common configuration. It adds a third tom, making three in all.
A fusion kit will normally add a 14" tom, either a floor tom or a hanging tom on a stand to the right of the bass drum, in either case making the tom lineup 10", 12" and 14".
Other kits will normally have 12" and 13" hanging toms plus either a 14" hanging tom on a stand, a 14" floor tom, or a 16" floor tom. For depths, see Tom-tom drum#Modern tom-toms. In recent years, it is very popular to have 10" and 12" hanging toms, with a 16" floor tom. This configuration is often called a hybrid setup.
The bass drum is most commonly 20" in diameter, but rock kits may use 22" or 24", jazz 18", and big bands up to 26".
A second crash cymbal is common, typically an inch or two larger or smaller than the 16", with the larger of the two to the right for a right-handed drummer, but a big band may use crashes up to 27" and ride up to 24" or very occasionally 26". A rock kit may also substitute a larger ride cymbal or larger hi-hats, typically 22" for the ride and 15" for the hats.
Most five-piece kits at more than entry level also have one or more effects cymbals. Adding cymbals beyond the basic ride, hi-hats and one crash configuration requires stands in addition to that of standard drum hardware packs. Because of this, many higher level kits are sold with little or even no hardware, to allow the drummer to choose the stands and also the bass drum pedal they prefer. At the other extreme, many entry level kits are sold as a five-piece kit complete with two cymbal stands, most often one straight and one boom, and some even with a standard cymbal pack, a stool and a pair of 5A drum sticks.
If the toms are omitted completely, or the bass drum replaced by a pedal-operated beater on the bottom skin of a floor tom and the hanging toms omitted, in either case the result is a two-piece kit. Such kits are particularly favoured in musical genres such as trad jazz, rockabilly and jump blues.
Some rockabilly kits and beginners kits for very young players omit the hi-hat stand. In rockabilly, this allows the drummer to play standing rather than seated.
Although these kits may be small with respect to the number of drums used, the drums themselves are most often normal sizes, or even larger in the case of the bass drum. Kits using smaller drums in both smaller and larger configurations are also produced for particular uses, such as boutique kits designed to reduce visual impact or space requirements, travelling kits to reduce luggage volume, and junior kits for very young players. Smaller drums also tend to be quieter, again suiting smaller venues, and many of these kits extend this with easily fitted extra muffling to the point of allowing quiet or even silent practice in a hotel room or bedroom.
Common extensions beyond these standard configurations include:
- Effects cymbals, particularly splash cymbals and china cymbals
- Double bass drums. Double bass drums or a double bass pedal are standard for some genres, particularly in heavy rock music
- Extra hanging or rack toms
- Extra Crash cymbals
- A crash/ride cymbal in addition to the main ride
- A second, larger floor tom
- One or more octobans or a pair of mini timbales
- A second pair of hi-hats mounted as cable hats or x-hats
- Cymbal stacks
- Individual tiger, wind or chau gongs
- Multiple ride cymbals. A sizzle cymbal thinner and larger than the main ride was once common as a second ride or crash/ride even in a four-piece kit but is now less so (jazz drummers however may still have two or more ride cymbals even in a small kit)
Less common extensions found particularly but not only in very large kits include:
- Multiple snare drums
- Multiple bass drums beyond the double bass drum setup
- Gong drums (single headed bass drums, played with sticks or mallets)
- Sets of gongs, tuned or untuned
- Sound effects such as a thunder sheet
- One or more crotales
- Instruments "borrowed" from orchestral percussion, such as timpani
- Instruments "borrowed" from marching band percussion, such as the tuned bass drums used in the drumline
The most common kit drumming sticks are wooden sticks modelled on, or in some cases identical to, those originally designed for use with the snare drum. These come in a variety of weights, conventionally expressed as a number, and tip designs, expressed as a letter following the number, with the higher numbers indicating lighter sticks. Thus, a 7A is a common jazz stick with a wooden tip, while a 7N is the same weight of stick with a nylon tip, and a 7B is a wooden tip but with a different tip profile, shorter and rounder than a 7A. A 5A is a common wood tipped rock stick, heavier than a 7A but with a similar profile. The numbers are most commonly odd but even numbers are used occasionally, in the range 2 (heaviest) to 9 (lightest).
The exact meanings of both numbers and letters differ from manufacturer to manufacturer, and some sticks are not described using this system at all, just being known as Jazz (typically a 7N or 8N) or Heavy Rock (typically a 4B or 5B) for example. The most general purpose stick is a 5A (wood tip, for snare tone) or 5N (nylon tip, for cymbal tone).
Other sticks commonly used are rutes, consisting of a bundle of canes, and wire or nylon drum brushes. More rarely, other beaters such as cartwheel mallets (known to kit drummers as "soft sticks") may be used. It is not uncommon for rock drummers to use the "wrong" end of a stick, and in view of this some makers now produce tipless sticks with two "wrong" ends.
Drum muffles can reduce the ring, overtone frequencies, or volume on a snare, bass, or tom. Controlling the ring is useful in studio or live settings when unwanted frequencies can clash with other instruments in the mix. There are internal and external muffling devices which rest on the inside or outside of the drumhead, respectively. Common types of mufflers include muffling rings, gels and tape, and placing one's wallet near the edge of the head.
Snare Drum and Tom-Tom Typical ways to muffle a snare or tom is to place an object on the outer edge of the drumhead. A piece of cloth, a wallet, gel, or fitted rings made of mylar are common objects. Also used are external clip-on muffles that work using the same principle. Internal mufflers that lie on the inside of the drumhead are often built into a drum, but are generally considered less effective than external muffles.
Bass Drum Muffling the bass can be achieved with the same muffling techniques as the snare, but bass drums in a drum kit are more commonly muffled with pillows between the heads. Cutting a small hole in the resonant head can also produce a more muffled tone.
Silencers/Mutes Another type of drum muffler is a piece of rubber that fits over the entire drumhead or cymbal. It interrupts contact between the stick and the head which dampens the sound even more. They are typically used in practice settings.
Exemplary list of companies with muffle products:
Historical Uses Muffled drums are often associated with funeral ceremonies as well, such as the funerals of John F. Kennedy and Queen Victoria. The use of muffled drums has been written about by such poets as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Mayne, and Theodore O'Hara. Drums have also been used for therapy and learning purposes, such as when an experienced player will sit with a number of students and by the end of the session have all of them relaxed and playing complex rhythms.
Three types of protective covers are common for kit drums:
- Drum bags are made from robust cloth such as cordura or from cloth-backed vinyl; they give minimal protection, but are adequate for drums transported rarely and in private cars for example, and may be the only option for working drummers starting out, particularly when air travel is involved
- Hard cases are of similar construction to suitcases, commonly of fibre composite
- Flight cases or road cases are standard for touring drummers
As with all musical instruments, the ultimate protection is afforded by a combination of a hard case or road case, padded on the inside, inside a soft padded bag.
Close micing of drums may be done using stands or by mounting the microphones on the rims of the drums, or even using microphones built into the drum itself, which eliminates the need for stands for these microphones, reducing both clutter and set-up time. In some styles of music, drummers use electronic effects on drums, such as individual noise gates that mute the attached microphone when the signal is below a threshold volume. This allows the sound engineer to use a higher overall volume for the drum kit by reducing the number of "active" mics which could feed back at any one time.
In some styles or settings, such as country music clubs or churches, or when a live recording is being made, the drummer may use a perspex or plexiglass drum screen (also known as a drum shield) to dampen the onstage volume of the drums. A screen that completely surrounds the drum kit is known as a drum booth.
Drummers who play in different venues generally carry carpeting, mats or rugs. The primary purpose of this is to prevent the bass drum and hi-hat stand from slipping on a wooden floor or similar slippery surface.
The carpet also reduces short reverberation (which is generally but not always an advantage), and helps to prevent damage to the flooring or floor coverings.
It is also known for the location of stands and pedals to be marked on the carpet to allow for quicker positioning of kits in comfortable positions when setting up.
Bass drums and hi-hat stands commonly have retractable spikes to help them to grip on surfaces such as carpet.
Drummers often use a variety of accessories when they are practicing. Metronomes and beat counters are used to develop a steady rhythm. Drum muffling pads may be used to lessen the volume of drums during practicing.
A practice pad, either held on the lap or mounted on a stand, is used for silent practice with drumsticks. A set of practice pads mounted to simulate an entire drum kit is known as a practice kit; These have largely been superseded by electronic drums and kits with non-sounding mesh heads.
An essential need of every drummer is a drum key, which is used for tuning of drums and handling with drum hardware. Besides a basic type of drum key exist various tuning wrenches and tools. Basic drum keys are divided in three types which allows tuning of three basic types of tuning screws on drum: square (most used), slotted and hexagonal.
- A groove which sets the feel and provides a framework
- Drum fills and other ornaments and variations which provide variety and substance
A fill is a departure from the repetitive rhythm. Fills vary from a simple, single stroke on a tom, to sequences several bars long that are short drum solos in themselves.
As well as simply adding interest and variation to the music, fills serve an important function in preparing and supporting significant events in the music. A vocal cue is a short drum fill that introduces a vocal entry. A fill ending on a cymbal crash on beat one is often used to lead into a chorus or verse.
Most drummers hold the drumsticks in one of two types of grip:
- The traditional grip, originally developed for playing the military side drum, most commonly with an overhand grip for the right hand and an underhand grip for the left.
- The matched grip, in which the sticks are held in similar (but mirror image) fashion.
Within these two types, there is still considerable variation, and even disagreements as to exactly how the stick is held in a particular method. For example, Jim Chapin, an early and influential exponent of the Moeller method, asserts that the technique does not rely on rebound, while Dave Weckl asserts that it does rely on rebound.
Drum kit music is most commonly written on a standard five-line staff. These days a special percussion clef is used, while previously the bass clef was used. However even if bass or no clef is used, each line and space is assigned an instrument of the kit rather than to a note.
|Component||Content||Audio (Vorbis: click the arrow to play)|
|Snare||Unmuffled snare drum|
|Muffled snare drum|
|Rim click on a snare|
|Bass drum||Muffled bass drum|
|Toms||8-inch (20 cm) rack tom|
|12-inch (30 cm) rack tom|
|Hi-hat being opened and closed by its foot pedal (chick)|
|Ride||Hit on the bow|
|Hit on the bell of the cymbal|
|Hit on the edge|
|Beat||A typical rock beat on hi-hat|
|Typical rock beat on ride cymbal|
Styles and techniques:
- Peckman, Jonathan (2007). Picture Yourself Drumming, p.30. ISBN 1-59863-330-9.
- "OnMusic Dictionary". Music.vt.edu. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- Remnant, M. (1989). Musical instruments. (pp. 159-174). London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.
- "Trinity College London | Home". Trinitycollege.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- Buford, Jon Cohan ; foreword by Bill (1995). Star sets : drum kits of the great drummers. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. ISBN 0-7935-3489-5.
- Porter/Hull man/Hazel (1993). Jazz - From its Origins to the Present, p.18. ISBN 0-13-512195-7.
- Porter/Hullman/Hazel (1993). Jazz - From its Origins to the Present, p.44. ISBN 0-13-512195-7.
- "Artist Series Attack Timbales (Dave Mackintosh)". Archived from the original on January 22, 2013.
a pair of 8” diameter timbale shells with a depth of 9” and 11” respectively... 8" x 9", 8" x 11"
- Remnant, M. (1989). Musical instruments. (pp. 159-174). London: B.T. Batsford Ltd
- "Warren 'Baby' Dodds". The Percussive Arts Society. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
Dodds' way of playing press rolls ultimately evolved into the standard jazz ride-cymbal pattern. Whereas many drummers would play very short press rolls on the backbeats, Dodds would start his rolls on the backbeats but extend each one to the following beat, providing a smoother time flow.
- Peckman (2007), p.31.
- Steve Weiss Music http://www.steveweissmusic.com/category/drum-sets 5/10/2012
- [dead link]
- "Funeral Of Queen Victoria - British Pathé". Britishpathe.com. 2010-07-18. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- Funeral of John F. Kennedy on YouTube
- "Longfellow's "A Psalm Of Life"". Blupete.com. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- "1805.4 - "The Muffled Drum" | Romantic Circles". Rc.umd.edu. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- Michael Robert Patterson. "Bivouac of the Dead - Arlington National Cemetery". Arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- Ryan , A. (n.d.). Learning to play the drum: an experiential. 43(4), 435-444.
- "Jim Chapin talks about the Moeller Method". 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
- "Dave Weckl - Moeller Technique". 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
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