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Drums and percussion instruments form the backbone of many genres of music. They set the rhythm, the pace, and keep everyone on track. While most people tend to think of the basic drum kit or marching band drums when thinking about percussion, there are many other drums, shakers, and other instruments that are incorporated into all different genres of music. From the congas to bongos to tambourines, Woodwind & Brasswind offers a full range of drums and percussion instruments.
The demand for the contemporary drum kit began during the Vaudeville era at the turn of the 20th century. Up until then, drums played in marching bands or orchestras would utilize separate drums often played by several musicians. The invention of the foot pedal in 1890 allowed the bass drum to be played while still keeping the arms free for other percussion possibilities. Though it was initially played standing, the bass drum has since become the central piece of the drum kit. In 1909 the Ludwig & Ludwig Co. patented the first bass drum pedal system.
With the bass drum as the foundation, drum kits evolved during jazz music with attached tom-tom drums, snare drums, and cymbals. On top of many of these drum kits a “contraption” or “trap” held whistles, cowbells, and other small instruments. The inclusion of this console caused early drum kits to be called “trap kits” instead. Around 1930, a standard trap kit was popular with a bass, a snare, a tom-tom, and a floor tom. A new wave of drummers grew after the release of “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris in 1963 and after Ringo Starr appeared on television playing a Ludwig drum kit.
Marching bands draw from a variety of percussion instruments including snare drums, bass drums, tenor drums, cymbals, and mallet percussion instruments such as the xylophone. Xylophones, marimbas, vibraphones, and timpani are typically part of the front ensemble of the band. Snare drums and tenor drums compose the “upper battery” section. The lead snare drum is the center snare and is typically the drum captain leader. The phrase, “play like your center,” comes from this effort to stay in line with the center snare.
Orchestras make use of drums and other percussive instruments such as the marimba, timpani, and gongs. Unlike other musical forms in which the bass drum frequently sets the primary rhythm, the bass drum in the orchestra usually provides more shading of sounds in accompaniment with other instruments. The snare drum is a recognizable part of the orchestra and will often accent the rhythms of other instruments. The crash cymbals became a memorable part of the orchestra during the age of Mozart and other auxiliary percussion instruments such as the triangle, castanets, and tambourine are also components of the modern orchestra.
Across genres and styles, percussion is an integral part of nearly all musical forms from jazz to orchestral to rock and roll. Whether you are in the market for bongos, congas, a drum kit, or a marching snare drum, look no further for your new percussion instrument.