Saturday, May 12, 2018

DRUMS - Perhaps the Oldest of Musical Instruments

Some ethnic percussion instruments Français : ...
Some ethnic percussion instruments (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The drum is perhaps the oldest of musical instruments, dating back thousands of years. Most civilizations, ancient and otherwise, have developed their own unique variations on the basic drum design. Over the centuries, these instruments have been used to create distinct, indigenous musical styles for nearly every region of the planet.

As drums and other percussion instruments developed, many of them became specific to certain functions. The snare drum, for instance, became popular through its military functions. These drums were often used for communicating on the battlefield, as well as for more formal military ceremonies.
Gradually, as this drum type became more popular, it was incorporated into the symphonic works of many of the 18th and 19th century's most important composers.

Other percussion instruments, such as the bass drum, various hand drums, and cymbals continued to develop along their own unique lines. Cymbals, originally an Eastern invention, began being manufactured for a number of sonic effects. African and Indonesian hand drums of all shapes and sizes began making appearances in European music during the "exoticism" movement of the late 19th century.

With the dawning of the 20th century, a new musical movement was beginning in the port city of New Orleans, Louisiana. A combination of African and European musical traditions, with a heavy emphasis on improvisation, jazz had become the first authentically American art form. Because rhythm and syncopation were integral to the music, the drummer was the heart of a jazz ensemble.

Most venues for jazz music, in the beginning, were small clubs that had limited stage space. A drummer was therefore forced into a small dilemma; what to bring and where to put it. This was the beginning of what we consider modern drum sets.

Drum sets were essentially an assortment of commonly used drums and other percussion instruments that could be set up in a way that took up a minimal amount of space. A standard trap kit usually consisted of a kick drum (originally a marching bass drum was used), snare drum, high-hats (two small cymbals that are hit against one another using a foot pedal), and a ride/crash cymbal. Despite improvements in drum technology, modern drum kits are still based on this standard design.

Since the introduction of jazz, popular music has continually required the use of a drum set. Within American and European pop music the instrument has become ubiquitous. Over the last century, the drum kit has also become a popular instrument in many other parts of the world as well. Because of the nature of the instrument, drum sets are one of the most versatile instruments in the world; an attribute that will help ensure that it has a long musical life ahead of it.

Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for Web sites on gardening, parenting, and home decor. Her background also includes teaching, recreation, and fashion. 

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