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:
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.
|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|
|Hi-hat being opened and closed by its foot pedal|
|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|