Drum kit

Drum kit

A drum kit (also drum set or trap set) is a collection of drums, cymbals and sometimes other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single drummer.

The term "drum kit" seems to have come from England. It was first created in the 1700s. In the U.S., the terms "drum set", and "trap set" were more prevalent historically.

The individual instruments of a drum kit are struck by a variety of implements held in the hand, including sticks, brushes, and mallets. Two notable exceptions include the bass drum, played by a foot-operated pedal, and the hi hat cymbals, which may be struck together using a foot pedal in addition to being played with sticks or brushes. Although other instruments can be played using a pedal, the feet are usually occupied by the bass drum and hi hat. Percussion notation is often used by drummers to signify which drum kit components are to be played. A full size drum set without all the extras has a bass drum, floor tom, snare drum, tom-toms, hi-hat cymbals, a ride cymbal and a crash cymbal.

Various music genres dictate the stylistically appropriate use of the drum kit’s components. For example, in most forms of rock music, the bass drum, hi-hat and snare drum are the primary instruments used to create a drum beat:

In jazz, however, the ride cymbal and hi hats (or brushed snare drum and hi hats) usually fill this role.

History and development

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 footpedals 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.

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."

By the 1930s, Gene Krupa and others popularized streamlined trap kits leading 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 pot 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 Billy Cobham, Carl Palmer, Bill Bruford, Phil Collins and Neil Peart were using large numbers of drums and cymbals and had also begun using electronic drums. Double bass pedals 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, found objects, 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.

Drum kit components

Audio samples
Component Content Audio (Vorbis)
Snare Unmuffled snare drum
Muffled snare drum
Rim click on a snare
Bass drum Muffled bass drum
Toms 8-inch (20 cm) rack tom
12-inch (30 cm) rack tom
Floor tom
Hi-hat Closed hi-hat
Open hi-hat
Hi-hat being opened and closed by its foot pedal
Crash Crash cymbal
Ride Hit normally
Hit on the bell of the cymbal
Hit on the edge
Beat A typical rock beat on hi-hat
Typical rock beat on ride cymbal
See the Drums category at Main Page for more
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. Drum kits can be very expensive pieces of equipment, with budget kits starting at £100-£200, and pro kits (shell packs) from £1000.

See also

External links

  • DMOZ – Drum resources.
  • OnlineDrummer – Online drumming resource including drum lessons, videos, shop and forum.
  • Drum Glossary—Explaining the various elements of the drumset
  • Drums Database – Huge database for drums info. and free drum lesson material.
  • DrumDeal - International Drums and Drummer resource and promotion site, Free e-zine to members.
  • Drummerworld – Drum resources.
  • Drums and Drummers – Resources on drums and drummers from 1900 to the present.

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