WWW – Hardwoods, the Heartbeat of Jazz, Pt. 1

History of Drums

Single drums are among the oldest musical instruments, and drums have traditionally always been crafted out of hardwoods. The oldest known drum dates back to 5500 B.C. in China where drums were often used for religious rituals and ceremonies. Wooden drums also have a long history of being used to set a marching beat for soldiers in militaries throughout the world. The drum set as we know it today was created through centuries of evolution, with New Orleans being at the epicenter of creation.

Rise of Jazz Drumming

New Orleans plays a crucial role in music history and the development of the drum set. In the early 1800s, residents and visitors of New Orleans had the freedom to gather in streets and courtyards to sing, dance, and play music together. Cultural influences from France, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Louisiana-born Creoles, and Native Americans all came together and shared aspects of their cultures and traditions in ways that had previously never been possible. The New Orleans music scene started to develop with the revolutionary creation of jazz beats that were born out of the city’s diverse makeup.

Traditional marching bands were popular throughout the city and were often seen at weddings, funerals, parades, or any social event. New Orleans drummers were the first to take the rudimentary marching drum compositions and play them into more improvised jazz styles. The drum set made its first appearance in New Orleans as marching bands began to form smaller, non-marching groups. Consolidating drum duties saved time, space, and money. Jazz bands often featured a drummer playing both bass and snare drums with a cymbal attached to the side of one drum.

Drum Sets Today 

Drum sets today typically include a snare, cymbals, tom-toms, and a bass drum. Drum shells are most often made with birch, maple, or mahogany. These species produce the best tonal qualities and sound projection while providing top-quality strength. Drum sticks are most often crafted out of oak, hickory, and maple. The type of woods used in drum sticks does not directly affect the sound produced by each drum. Drummers prefer these species due to their durability and comfort on the hands.

Learn more about the history of jazz while you’re in New Orleans for the NHLA Convention from October 2-4! Learn more about the Convention here: http://bit.ly/Register_NHLA