The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 733: The History of Modern Drumkit

We are going to talk about drummers on this show. I just want you to know right from the start just in case you wanna roll your eyes and go “Really? Do we have to?”

Yes, we have to. In fact, this conversation is long overdue.

There have been countless stories told about great guitarists and singers and keyboardists. Drummers? Not so much, unless your name is Dave Grohl. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to him.)

This was going to a profile of my favourite drummers in alt-rock, but then I got to thinking: How much do we know what about drummers play?

Consider how many histories of the electric guitar have been written: monographs, coffee table books, books on collectible guitars—the list is endless. Now think about the books written about keyboards. There are about three linear feet of bookshelf in my office taken up just by books on the history of synthesizers.

But what about the drums today’s drummers play? Don’t tell me that you go to a Tool show and don’t stare at what Danny Carey is playing or marvel at what Chad Smith does with those roundy things behind Flea and Anthony at a Chili Peppers’ gig.

No, I think it’s time that we not only talked about drummers but also drums themselves. How did the modern drumkit come into being? There’s a pretty standard sort of set-up, so how did that come about? Why do we play drums the way we do? And who should we thank for making drums into what they are today? Cymbals and foot pedals and snare drums: where did all that come from?

See? You’re curious now, aren’t you? Stand by. The history of the modern drumkit is coming up—and this is stuff even most drummers don’t know.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Vancouver, Kamloops, Kelowna, Red Deer, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

Things are looking good for a debut in Singapore in January. And at least one US station wants to come on board. Anyone else? Love to hear from you.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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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