Even though it seems like the drum kit is ancient and has always been around, we know that this is not the case. So far we’ve looked at double drumming HERE and the development of the bass drum pedal HERE but still the drum kit was missing something that is integral to the modern set up.
That is tunable toms. That’s right, before the 1930s drum kits or trap kits as they were known, more often featured contraptions which came in all manner of various percussive objects clamped to an arching tube that sat above the bass drum. The only type of tom that might be seen here was a Chinese tom which featured drum skins that were nailed to the drum kit.
And so the final move came to evolve the drum kit into the beautiful thing that we play today. And it came courtesy of the now household name, Gene Krupa. Krupa stripped away all the contraptions to create a streamlined kit. Having done away with the rattles, bells, whistles and other sound effects, his set up of snare, bass, 13 x 9 inch mounted tom as well as 16 x 16 and 16 x 18 inch floor toms is still favoured by many drummer s today. At first the floor tom sat in a three legged cradle but soon the legs were attached to the shell as recognized in today’s drums. The modern drum kit had been born.
Here is a video of Krupa playing ‘sing, sing, sing’ with the Benny Goodman orchestra. Throughout the track Krupa drives the band with his mastery of the kit and showmanship which makes this an early version of a drum hit. Can you think of any others?