When and where did the modern drum kit originate?
Drumming was the first form of musical expression and started before civilization. Drums have been around for a long time and been used for making music, used in the military and used in religious ceremonies. So when did the modern drum kit come about and where did it originate?
The modern drum kit is a relatively recent development and originated in New Orleans around the turn of the last century with the development of jazz, but each of the pieces has a history of its own.
Snare drums developed from a medieval drum call the tabor, which was a hand held, portable snare and was struck with only one stick. The snare was made of gut and strung across the bottom. Originally it was not used as a musical instrument but used militarily in cadence marching.
The bass drum was first used in European music in the 1700’s, but was originally a Turkish instrument. With the European migration it eventually crossed the Atlantic and came to America.
The first drum pedal was invented in the late 1800’s and allowed a drummer to play two drums at once. This was referred to as double drumming, and the drummer was referred to a double drummer. Before that drums were played individually.
The next addition was the Chinese tom tom, which made it’s way across the Pacific to America during the Chinese immigration in the 1800s, although the Native Americans had a similar drum. Any drum without snare coils is considered a tom tom, such as Congas and bongos.
Also Chinese and Turkish symbols started to be added to the kit, but the Turkish symbols won out as the most popular largely due to the efforts of the Zildjian brothers, who began manufacturing cymbals in Massachusetts in the 1920s. Avedis Ziljian was the first to develop drum-set cymbals, and gave his cymbals names.
In the mid 1930’s, Gene Krupa came up with the arrangement of the pieces that make up the modern drum kit. Four to six drums typically comprise a modern drum kit: bass drum, snare drum, two to more tom-toms, a hi-hat cymbal pair, a ride cymbal, and at least a couple of crash cymbals.
As can be seen, the modern drum kit is a testament to the rich cultural diversity of this nation and is truly a world instrument.
A brief history of the drum set (Jackson Krall)