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  • Chris Anderson

A Brief History Of The Drum Kit

The drum kit, also known as a drum set or simply drums, is a collection of drums, cymbals, and other percussion instruments that are set up in a specific arrangement for a drummer to play. The history of the drum kit is a fascinating journey that spans several centuries, evolving through various cultures and musical styles.


  • 18th Century: The drum set's origins can be traced back to the 18th century when individual percussion instruments were combined in military and marching band settings. Drummers in military bands began to set up bass drums, snare drums, and cymbals to be played simultaneously, providing a more versatile and dynamic sound.

  • Late 19th Century: As the 19th century progressed, the drum set found its way into various musical genres, including brass bands and vaudeville performances. Drummers continued to experiment with different combinations of drums and cymbals.

  • Early 20th Century: The drum kit gained prominence in the early 20th century with the rise of jazz music. Drummers like Baby Dodds and Zutty Singleton played a crucial role in popularising the drum set in jazz bands. The introduction of the hi-hat, a pair of cymbals mounted on a stand and played with a foot pedal, added further versatility to the drum kit.

  • Swing Era: In the 1930s and 1940s, the swing era saw the drum set becoming a standard part of big band setups. Drummers like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich became iconic figures, showcasing the drum kit's potential for intricate and expressive playing.

  • Post-WWII and Rock 'n' Roll: After World War II, the drum set became a central component of the emerging rock 'n' roll genre. Drummers like Ringo Starr of The Beatles and Keith Moon of The Who played a crucial role in shaping the sound and image of rock drumming.

  • 1960s and 1970s: The 1960s and 1970s brought further innovations, with drummers like Ginger Baker (Cream) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) pushing the boundaries of drumming technique and sound. Double bass drum pedals also became popular during this time.

  • Electronic Drums: In the late 20th century, electronic drums and drum machines emerged, providing new possibilities for drummers and producers. Drummers could now incorporate electronic sounds into their setups, expanding the sonic palette.

  • Contemporary Era: In the contemporary era, the drum kit continues to evolve with advancements in materials, technology, and playing techniques. Drummers across various genres continue to push the boundaries of what is possible on the drum set.


Throughout its history, the drum kit has played a vital role in shaping the rhythm and feel of countless musical genres, making it an indispensable part of the modern musical landscape.

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