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 The  History of :  Blues | CountryFolk Music | Heavy Metal | Hip Hop | Jazz | Punk | Reggae | Rock n' Roll | Rockabilly

Piano | Guitar | Microphone |Drum


Piano | Guitar | Microphone |Drum | Amplifiers


Drum - Drum-kit - Electronic - Drum Machine

 The Drum is a member of the percussion group, technically classified as a membranophone. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with parts of a player's body, or with some sort of implement such as a drumstick, to produce sound. Other techniques have been used to cause drums to make sound, such as the "Thumb roll". Drums are the world's oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Most drums are considered "un-tuned instruments", however many modern musicians are beginning to tune drums to songs; Terry Bozzio has constructed a kit using diatonic and chromatically tuned drums. A few such as timpani are always tuned to a certain pitch. Often, several drums are arranged together to create a drum kit that can be played by one musician with all four limbs.

 The shell almost invariably has a circular opening over which the drumhead is stretched, but the shape of the remainder of the shell varies widely. In the western musical tradition, the most usual shape is a cylinder, although timpani, for example, use bowl-shaped shells. Other shapes include a frame design (tar, Bodhrán), truncated cones (Bongos, Ashiko), goblet shaped (Djembe), and joined truncated cones (talking drum).

Hand Drums

 The Talking Drum is a Nigerian instrument whose pitch can be regulated to the extent that it is said the drum "talks" and can be used for drum communication. Talking drums are hour-glass shaped with two heads (made from either goat, lizard (iguana), or fish skin) tuned by straps that connect the heads with each other. The player puts the drum under one shoulder and beats the instrument with a specialized beater. The pitch is raised or lowered by squeezing or releasing the drum's strings with the upper arm. This can produce highly informative sounds to convey complicated messages. The ability to change the drum's pitch is analogous to the language tonality of some African languages.

 Drums with cylindrical shells can be open at one end, (as is the case with timbales), or can have two drum heads. Single-headed drums normally consist of a skin which is stretched over an enclosed space, or over one of the ends of a hollow vessel. Drums with two heads covering both ends of a cylindrical shell often have a small hole somewhat halfway between the two heads; the shell forms a resonating chamber for the resulting sound. Exceptions include the African slit drum, made from a hollowed-out tree trunk, and the Caribbean steel drum, made from a metal barrel. Drums with two heads can also have a set of wires, called snares, held across the bottom head, top head, or both heads, hence the name snare drum.

 On modern band and orchestral drums, the drumhead is placed over the opening of the drum, which in turn is held onto the shell by a "counter hoop" (or "rim), which is then held by means of a number of tuning key screws called "tension rods" (also known as lugs) placed regularly around the circumference. The head's tension can be adjusted by loosening or tightening the rods. Many such drums have six to ten tension rods. The sound of a drum depends on several variables, including shape, size and thickness of its shell, materials from which the shell was made, counter hoop material, type of drumhead used and tension applied to it, position of the drum, location, and the velocity and angle in which it is struck. Prior to the invention of tension rods drum skins were attached and tuned by rope systems such as that used on the Djembe or pegs and ropes such as that used on Ewe Drums, a system rarely used today, although sometimes seen on regimental marching band snare drums.

Drum carried by John Unger, Company B, 40th Regiment
New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry Mozart Regiment, December 20, 1863
Mozart Regiment Drum

  Several factors determine the sound a drum produces, including the type of shell the drum has, the type of drumheads it has, and the tension of the drumheads. Different drum sounds have different uses in music. For example, a jazz drummer may want drums that sound crisp, clean, and a little on the soft side, whereas a rock and roll drummer may prefer drums that sound loud and deep. Because these drummers want different sounds, their drums will be constructed differently.

 The drumhead has the most effect on how a drum sounds. Each type of drumhead serves its own musical purpose and has its own unique sound. Thicker drumheads are lower-pitched and can be very loud. Drumheads with a white plastic coating on them muffle the overtones of the drumhead slightly, producing a less diverse pitch. Drumheads with central silver or black dots tend to muffle the overtones even more. And drumheads with perimeter sound rings mostly eliminate overtones (Howie 2005). Some jazz drummers avoid using thick drumheads, preferring single ply drumheads or drumheads with no muffling. Rock drummers often prefer the thicker or coated drumheads.

 The second biggest factor affecting the sound produced by a drum is the tension at which the drumhead is held against the shell of the drum. When the hoop is placed around the drumhead and shell and tightened down with bolts, the tension of the head can be adjusted. When the tension is increased, the amplitude of the sound is reduced and the frequency is increased, making the pitch higher and the volume lower.

 The type of shell also affects the sound of a drum. Because the vibrations resonate in the shell of the drum, the shell can be used to increase the volume and to manipulate the type of sound produced. The larger the diameter of the shell, the lower the pitch of the drum will be. The type of wood is important as well. Birch generates a bright, crisp, and clean sound, maple reproduces the frequency of the drumhead as it resonates and has a warm, wholesome sound while mahogany raises the frequency of low pitches and keeps higher frequencies at about the same speed. When choosing a set of shells, a jazz drummer may want smaller maple shells, while a rock drummer may want larger birch shells.

 Drums are usually played by the hands, or by one or two sticks. In many traditional cultures drums have a symbolic function and are often used in religious ceremonies. Drums are often used in music therapy, especially hand drums, because of their tactile nature and easy use by a wide variety of people. Within the realm of popular music and jazz, "drums" usually refers to a drum kit or a set of drums, and "drummer" to the actual band member or person who plays them.

 In the past drums have been used not only for their musical qualities, but also as a means of communication, especially through signals. The talking drums of Africa can imitate the inflections and pitch variations of a spoken language and are used for communicating over great distances. Throughout Sri Lankan history drums have been used for communication between the state and the community, and Sri Lankan drums have a history stretching back over 2500 years. Chinese troops used tàigǔ drums to motivate troops, to help set a marching pace, and to call out orders or announcements. Fife-and-drum corps of Swiss mercenary foot soldiers also used drums. They used an early version of the snare drum carried over the player's right shoulder, suspended by a strap (typically played with one hand using traditional grip). It is to this instrument that English word "drum" was first used. Similarly, during the English civil war rope-tension drums would be carried by junior officers as a means to relay commands from senior officers over the noise of battle. These were also hung over the shoulder of the drummer and typically played with two drum sticks. Different regiments and companies would have distinctive and unique drum beats which only they would recognize.



 Drum Sets were first developed due to financial and space considerations in theaters where drummers were encouraged to cover as many percussion parts as possible. Up until then, drums and cymbals were played separately in military and orchestral music settings. Initially, drummers played the bass and snare drums by hand, then in the 1890s they started experimenting with foot pedals to play the bass drum. William F. Ludwig made the bass drum pedal system workable in 1909, paving the way for the modern drum kit.

Drum Kit By World War I drum kits were characterized by very large marching bass drums and many percussion items suspended on and around it, and they became a central part of jazz music. Hi-hat stands appeared around 1926. Metal consoles were developed to hold Chinese tom-toms, with swing out stands for snare drums and cymbals. On top of the console was a "contraptions" (shortened to "trap") tray used to hold whistles, klaxons, and cowbells, thus drum kits were dubbed "trap kits."
  Gene Krupa and others popularized streamlined trap kits in the '30s that lead 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. In the 1940s, Louie Bellson pioneered use of two bass drums, or the double bass drum kit. With the ascendancy of rock and roll, the role of the drum kit player became more visible, accessible, and visceral. The watershed moment occurred in 1964, when Ringo Starr of The Beatles played his Ludwig kit on American television; an event that motivated legions to take up the drums.

 The trend toward bigger drum kits in Rock music began in the 1960s and gained momentum in the 1970s. By the 1980s, widely popular drummers like Neil Peart, Billy Cobham, Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford, and Mike Portnoy were using large numbers of drums and cymbals and had also begun using electronic drums. John Bonham of Led Zeppelin also helped to revolutionize the drum kit and master new unheard of beats. Double bass pedals (Often used in heavy metal) were developed to play on one bass drum, eliminating the need for a second bass drum. In the 1990s and 2000s, many drummers in popular music and indie music have reverted back to basic four piece drum set standard.

 In the present, it is not uncommon for drummers to use a variety of auxiliary percussion instruments 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.

 The exact collection of drum kit components depends on factors like musical style, personal preference, financial resources, and transportation options of the drummer. Cymbal, hi-hat, and tom-tom stands, as well as bass drum pedals and drummer thrones are usually standard. Most mass produced drum kits are sold in one of two five-piece configurations (referring to the number of drums only) which typically include a bass drum, a snare drum, and three toms. The standard sizes (sometimes called ‘rock’ sizes) are 22” (head size diameter) bass drum, 14” snare drum, 12” and 13” mounted toms, and a 16” floor tom. The other popular configuration is called Fusion size, a reference to Jazz fusion music, which usually includes a 22” (or sometimes 20") bass drum, a 14” snare drum, and 10”, 12” and 14” mounted toms. The standard hardware pack includes a hi hat stand, a snare drum stand, two or three cymbal stands, and a bass drum pedal. Drum kits are usually offered as either complete kits which include drums and hardware, or as “shell packs” which include only the drums and perhaps some tom mounting hardware. Cymbals are usually purchased separately and are also available in either packs or as individual pieces.


Roland Drums


 Electronic Drums are percussion instruments where the sound is generated by an electronic waveform generator or sampler instead of by acoustic vibration.

 When an electronic drum pad is struck, a voltage change is triggered in the embedded piezoelectric transducer (piezo) or force sensitive resistor (FSR). The resultant signals are transmitted to an electronic "drum brain" via TS or TRS cables, and are translated into digital waveforms, which produce the desired percussion sound assigned to that particular trigger pad. Most newer drum modules have trigger inputs for 2 or more cymbals, a kick, 3-4 toms, a dual-zone snare, (head and rim) and a hi-hat. The hi-hat has a foot controller which produces open and closed sounds with some models offering variations in-between.
  By having the ability to assign different sounds to any given pad, the electronic drummer has nearly unlimited potential for configuring many different sounding drum kits from one set of electronic drums. Additionally, electronic drummers can sample non-percussive sounds and use them as drum sounds, as is the case with most industrial music. Many see this as a great advantage over acoustic drums, as one can have a jazz, rock or ballad drumset by merely changing the kit selector switch on the module.


 A Drum Machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums and/or other percussion instruments. Drum machines are very useful instruments for a wide variety of musical genres, not just purely electronic music. They are also a common necessity when session drummers are not available or desired.

 Most modern drum machines are sequencers with a sample playback, or synthesizer component that specializes in the reproduction of drum timbres as well as the sound of other traditional percussion instruments. Though features vary from model to model, many modern drum machines can also produce unique sounds (though usually percussive in nature), and allow the user to compose unique drum beats.


Music educator Joseph Schillinger and the Rhythmicon (1932)

 Early drum machines were often referred to as "rhythm machines." In 1930–32, the spectacularly innovative and complex Rhythmicon was realized by Léon Theremin on the commission of composer-theorist Henry Cowell, who wanted an instrument with which to play compositions whose multiple rhythmic patterns, based on the overtone series, were far too difficult to perform on existing keyboard instruments. The invention could produce sixteen different rhythms, each associated with a particular pitch, either individually or in any combination, including in mass, if desired. Received with considerable interest when it was publicly introduced in 1932, the Rhythmicon was soon set aside by Cowell and was virtually forgotten for decades. The next generation of rhythm machines played only preprogrammed rhythms such as mambo, tango, or the like.

 In 1947 Californian Harry Chamberlin constructed a tape loop based drum machine called the Chamberlin Rhythmate. It had 14 tape loops with a sliding head that allowed playback of different tracks on each piece of tape, or a blending between them. It contained a volume and a pitch/speed control and also had a separate amplifier with bass, treble, and volume controls, and an input jack for a guitar, microphone or other instrument. The tape loops were of real acoustic jazz drum kits playing different style beats, with some additions to tracks such as bongos, clave, castanets, etc.

 In 1959 Wurlitzer released an electro-mechanical drum machine called the Sideman, which was the first ever commercially-produced drum machine. The Sideman was intended as a percussive accompaniment for the Wurlitzer organ range. The Sideman offered a choice of 12 electronically generated, predefined rhythm patterns with variable tempos. The sound source was a series of vacuum tubes which created 10 preset electronic drum sounds. The drum sounds were 'sequenced' by a set of rotating discs with metal contacts on the edge, spaced in a certain pattern to generate parts of a particular rhythm. Combinations of these different sets of rhythms and drum sounds created popular rhythmic patterns of the day, eg: waltzes, fox trots etc. These combinations were selected by a rotary knob on the top of the Sideman box. The tempo of the patterns was controlled by a slider that increased the speed of rotation of the disc. The Sideman had a panel of 10 buttons for manually triggering drum sounds, and a remote player to control the machine while playing from an organ keyboard. The Sideman was housed in a wooden cabinet that contained the sound generating circuitry, amplifier and speaker.

 The first widely commercially available rhythm machines were included in organs in the late 1960s, and were intended to accompany the organist, and the first successful drum machine was the Rhythm Ace. It was produced by a company then called Ace Tone (later called Roland). In 1964 it developed the Ace Electronics R1 Rhythm Ace. The R1 was possibly the world's first fully transistorized rhythm machine but, despite interest and sample orders from American manufacturers, it didn't achieve a wider success. The machine produced sounds when the user pressed buttons, much like today's drum pads, but it offered no pre-programmed patterns. The FR1 Rhythm Ace appeared in 1967. The positive response was immediate, and the FR1 was adopted by the Hammond Organ Company for incorporation within its latest line of organs. The Rhythm Ace was a preset-only unit; it was not possible for the user to alter or modify the pre-programmed rhythms.

 A number of other preset drum machines were released in the 1970s. The first major pop song to use a drum machine was a cover version of Sly & the Family Stone's "Somebody's Watching You" recorded by Little Sister. The song, produced and composed by Sly Stone, entered the R&B charts in 1971. Drum machine tracks were also heavily used on the Sly & the Family Stone album There's a Riot Goin' On, released the same year. The German krautrock band Can also used a drum machine on their album Tago Mago (1971), especially in the song "Peking O". The first album on which a drum machine produced all the percussion was Arthur Brown/Kingdom Come's Journey, recorded in November 1972 using a Bentley Rhythm Ace.

 A key difference between such early machines and more modern equipment is that they used analog sound synthesis rather than digital sampling in order to generate their sounds. For example, a snare drum or maraca sound would typically be created using a burst of white noise whereas a bass drum sound would be made using sine waves or other basic waveforms. This meant that while the resulting sound was not very close to that of the real instrument, each model tended to have a unique character. For this reason, many of these early machines have achieved a certain "cult status" and are now sought after by DJs and producers for use in production of modern electronic music.



Programmable Drum Machines
 The first stand-alone drum machine, the PAiA Programmable Drum Set, also happened to be the very first programmable drum machine. It was first introduced in 1975, and was sold as a kit with parts and instructions which the buyer would use to build the machine.
  In 1978, the Roland CR-78 drum machine was released. It was one of the first programmable rhythm machines, and had four memory locations which allowed users to store their own patterns. The following year, Roland offered the Boss DR-55. It was the first fully programmable drum machine for under $200. The DR-55 had four sounds, and enough memory for only 16 rhythms. Hardly passable by modern standards, but in its time, the DR-55 was a relatively affordable breakthrough.

Linn Lm1


 The Linn LM-1 Drum Computer (released in 1980, and expensive at $4,999) was the first drum machine to use digital samples. Only 500 were ever made, but the list of those who owned them was impressive. Its distinctive sound almost defines 1980s pop, and it can be heard on hundreds of hit records from the era, including The Human League's Dare, Gary Numan's Dance, and Ric Ocasek's Beatitude. Prince bought one of the very first LM-1s and used it on nearly all of his most popular recordings, including 1999 and Purple Rain.

  Many of the drum sounds on the LM-1 were composed of two chips that were triggered at the same time, and each voice was individually tunable with individual outputs. Due to memory limitations, a crash cymbal sound was not available except as an expensive third-party modification. A cheaper version of the LM-1 was released in 1982 called the LM-2 (or simply LinnDrum). It cost around $3,000 and not all of its voices were tunable, making it less desirable than the original LM-1. The Linndrum included a crash cymbal sound as standard and, like its predecessor the LM-1, featured replaceable sound chips. The Linndrum can be heard on records such as Men Without Hats' Rhythm of Youth and The Cars' Heartbeat City.

 It was feared the LM-1 would put every session drummer in Los Angeles out of work and it caused many of L.A's top session drummers (Jeff Porcaro is one example) to purchase their own drum machines and learn to program them themselves in order to stay employed.
  Following the success of the LM-1, Oberheim introduced the DMX, which also featured digitally-sampled sounds and a "swing" feature similar to the one found on the Linn machines. It became very popular in its own right, becoming a staple of the nascent hip-hop scene.


Roland Tr 808 The famous Roland TR-808 was also launched in 1980. At the time it was received with little fanfare, as it did not have digitally sampled sounds; drum machines using digital samples were much more popular. In time, though, the TR-808, along with its successor, the TR-909 (released in 1983), would become a fixture of the burgeoning underground dance, techno, and hip-hop genres, mainly because of its low cost (relative to that of the Linn machines), and the unique character of its analogue-generated sounds. In a somewhat ironic twist it is the analogue-based Roland machines that have endured over time as the Linn sound became somewhat overused and dated by the end of the decade. The TR-808 and TR-909's beats have since been widely featured in pop music, and can be heard on countless recordings up to the present day.

Programming can be done (depending on the machine) in real time: the user creates drum patterns by pressing the trigger pads as though a drum kit were being played; or using step-sequencing: the pattern is built up over time by adding individual sounds at certain points by placing them, as with the TR-808 and TR-909, along a 16-step bar. For example, a generic 4-on-the-floor dance pattern could be made by placing a closed high hat on the 3rd, 7th, 11th, and 15th steps, then a kick drum on the 1st, 5th, 9th, and 13th steps, and a clap on the 5th and 13th. This pattern could be varied in a multitude of ways to obtain fills, break-downs and other elements that the programmer sees fit, which in turn could be sequenced — essentially the drum machine plays back the programmed patterns from memory in an order the programmer has chosen. The machine will quantify entries that are slightly off-beat in order to make them exactly in time.

  Because these early drum machines came out before the introduction of MIDI in 1983, they used a variety of methods of having their rhythms synchronized to other electronic devices. Some used a method of synchronization called DIN-sync, or sync-24. Some of these machines also output analog CV/Gate voltages that could be used to synchronize or control analog synthesizers and other music equipment. The Oberheim DMX came with a feature allowing it to be synchronized to its proprietary Oberheim Parallel Buss interfacing system, developed prior to the introduction of MIDI. If the drum machine has MIDI connectivity, then one could program the drum machine with a computer or another MIDI device.

 By the year 2000, standalone drum machines became much less common, being partly supplanted by general-purpose hardware samplers controlled by sequencers (built-in or external), software-based sequencing and sampling and the use of loops, and music workstations with integrated sequencing and drum sounds. TR-808 and other digitized drum machine sounds can be found in archives on the Internet. However, traditional drum machines are still being made by companies such as Roland Corporation (under the name Boss), Zoom, Korg and Alesis, whose SR-16 drum machine has remained popular since it was introduced in 1991. There are percussion-specific sound modules that can be triggered by pickups, trigger pads, or through MIDI. These are called drum modules; the Alesis D4 and Roland TD-8 are popular examples. Unless such a sound module also features a sequencer, it is, strictly speaking, not a drum machine.

 The  History of :  Blues | CountryFolk Music | Heavy Metal | Hip Hop | Jazz | Punk | Reggae | Rock n' Roll | Rockabilly

Piano | Guitar | Microphone |Drum


Piano | Guitar | Microphone |Drum | Amplifiers

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