The History of the Modern Drumset

If you’re into drums and drummers, this is a good history of how the modern drumset evolved.

The modern (or contemporary) drumset (“batterie” in French, meaning also “drumming” and “drum corps”), also called “jazz drums” (or “drum kit” to describe a group of drums played by one musician or “trap drums” to designate the use of pedals or perhaps sound effects), appeared in the early twentieth century in the United States of America. Nevertheless, we can already see the beginnings of this instrument with the appearance of “one-man band” at the end of the Middle Ages in Europe, which used a bass drum attached in the back and a beater attached to an axis of rotation and operated by a string attached to a foot.The bass drum pedal appears in the early twentieth century and the hi-hat pedal (or “high-hat”, “charleston” in French) appears in the 20s with the first big bands playing sitting on dancing paddle steamer or ballroom in New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz and blues.

In fact, to understand the modern drumset, you must first know that all the instruments that compose it, if we exclude all extensions, pedals and stands, which are there to help to use them, and are the only true inventions that make the drumset a modern instrument, are instruments whose origin dates back to the dawn of humanity (as most percussion instruments).

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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