Many of you may already know the history of the kit but for those of you that don’t this short post simply highlights the relative infancy of our beloved instrument. It is only really in the last hundred years that it has existed in its current form, and with tunable toms it has been even less time!
Before this time several percussionists were required in the orchestra pit to carry out various duties with bass drums, snare drums, cymbals and other percussive effects. This was not only expensive as every musician needed paying, but also took up valuable space in the cramped theatre pits.
This situation was alleviated slightly when some bright spark conceived the idea of ‘double drumming’. This entailed the bass drum being positioned close enough to the snare drum so that a single drummer could operate one drum with a stick in his right hand and another drum with a stick in his left hand.
Now one drummer was effectively out of a job and the remaining man could do the jobs previously done by two men. Not good for the unemployment statistics but a positive step towards the drum kit.
I’ll talk about the next stage later but to give you a clue, a man named William F. Ludwig (you might have seen his name on the kits of some bright young players such as Ringo Starr and John Bonham) was heavily involved and it allowed the drummer to sit down…………what a relief!
Anyway, just to think how far the kit and the way we play it has come since then shows what can be achieved by forward thinking people. Who knows, maybe you can dream up the next drumming revolution and change the way we play.