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Drums Yesterday and Today

Drums evoke rock and roll images of such greats as John Bonham, Neil Peart and Ian Paice.  A beat that is at times frenetic but can also be soft and soothing, depending on the style of the music.  Drums come in all shapes and sizes and those shapes and sizes as well as the pressure applied to them and the instrument used to beat on them determine the sound they emit.

Drums are  thought to be the oldest percussion instrument dating back to ancient times of war.  Everyone from Scots warriors to Native Americans use the drums in their ceremonial rituals and during times of battle.  But today, the drum is an instrument most associated with rock bands, jazz bands and marching bands.  The drum, and specifically the snare drum, is called “an instrument of indefinite pitch.” That means that its pitch cannot be accurately changed.  While the two most common drum sounds are the tap and the roll, anyone who has listened to music knows drums are capable of a near infinite number of sounds and rhythms.

It wasn’t until 1933 when a group of drummers from all over the United States gathered in Chicago to discuss methods of teaching drumming.  Prior to this, there was no standardized method of learning to play the drums. While many methods can be effective, it is hard to judge the aptitude of a drummer if they have learned using a different method. So this group of drummers put together “The Thirteen Rudiments of Drumming.”  Over time more rudiments were added to the list, resulting in 26 total rudiments and the formation of the National Association of Rudimental Drummers.

Modern technology has left its mark on the art of drumming as it has on so many other facets of life.  Drums now have the ability to make a faster, cleaner and more accurate sound when beaten.  Dedication and practice are the cornerstones of perfect stick control and stick control is what puts out the sound the drummer seeks.

Whether you fancy yourself leading a marching band in a parade, or being the soul of a rock band playing to a crowded arena, certain fundamentals of drumming need to be learned. But don’t despair, even Carter Beauford picked up a stick for the first time without a clue as to what to do with it. Even Lars Ulrich, Phil Collins and Keith Moon were novice drummers at one point in their lives.  What you put into learning the art of drumming, you will get back in increased skill level. And you have to admit, there is somewhat of an adrenaline rush in a really great drum solo.

 

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