The Drums – Learning the Parts of the Drum Set

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 33,851
    Expert drummer Wes Crawford breaks down the different parts of the drum set.

    Wes Crawford

    Wes began his professional music career after graduating with a B.S. in Psychology at Virginia Tech. Soon thereafter, he began performing drumset with the extraordinary Jazz/R&B singer Jane L. Powell, a musical association that lasted eleven years and continues as a managerial relationship. The group toured throughout North America and the Caribbean performing at festivals, universities, resorts, nightclubs, and cruise ships. They opened for such acts as Ray Charles, Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, The Crusaders, Joan Jett, Ernie Watts, and Paula Poundstone, and occasionally performed alongside artists such as Tony Bennett, O.C. Smith, and Dorothy Moore. The 1,300 colleges and universities comprising the National Association for Campus Activities voted the group Entertainer of the Year in 1990, their highest honor, and Jazz Artist of the Year for 1990-1992. During these years of touring, Wes also recorded two albums with Ms. Powell as well as for several outside artists. Wes also conducted electronic percussion seminars at VA Tech and at the Virginia Governor’s School for the Gifted. In 1992, Wes settled with his family in the Washington, DC area as an independent artist on drumset and percussion where he currently performs and records with acts such as Shahin & Sepehr (Higher Octave/Narada world music recording artists), Cocktail Nuts (aka “C-NUTS”- Jazz versions of rock classics, on Wildchild/Mapleshade Records), mrudangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K. Shivaraman (including a clinic at PASIC 2000 and a featured performance at Baltimore Drum Day 2000), Squeeze Bayou (1998 winners of the “Best Non-Louisiana-Based Cajun Band Recording” awarded by the Cajun French Music Association), and Night Life (high-energy show band). Wes has also regularly performed and/or recorded with Aisha Kahlil (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), Eva Cassidy, Catalyst Events’ “Beatswork!,” Zydeco Crayz, Mary Ann Borelli, “Oh Susannah!”, Sugar Jones, and Armadillo recording artist Daryl Davis. His other noteworthy performances and recordings include those with the David Bach Consort (2nd place winner in the 1998 BET unsigned band video contest), Hennesy Jazz Search regional winner Jerry Gordon, and performances with Milestone recording artist Ron Holloway. Wes considers education to be an important link to the future of the percussive arts and teaches drumset privately and at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD. He also performs in public school assemblies with Mosaic, which provided the musical instruction and curriculum for the 2000 Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Wes serves as the Director of the annual Drumset And Percussion Camp of the Goucher Summer Arts Institute and as Vice-President of the MD/DE chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 2000, Wes started MusicAndGames4U.com, a site to feature his interactive educational media such as his popular “Drumset Play-Along DVD.” His latest “A Rhythmic Murder Mystery” interactive DVD features a solo electronic drumset concert, which he also performs live. Wes holds Associate Artist relationships with Maryland Drum Company and with Trueline Drumsticks, and he occasionally works as Music Consultant for the not-for-profit Sustainable Environments for Health + Shelter.

    Hi, I am Wes Crawford and were going to talk about the names of the drums. First, the most fundamental drum as part of our drum set is the Snare Drum. It has a very sharp, snappy sound because of the snare wires on the bottom. The next most fundamental part of the drum set is the Base Drum. We play that with the foot, and thats the lowest member of the family in the drum set, and has a nice punch, a little thud to it. The High Hat is a set of two cymbals on a stand which can be controlled by the foot to get different sounds. Most often we will play it with the stick. It can be closed, or open, or anywhere in between. So, we can get a lot of expression out of the High Hat. You might notice that these three fundamental parts of our drum set came from the marching band, the New Orleans marching band, which is where the drum set came from, from when the -- someone invented the base drum pedal to put the whole set of instruments together as a kit. Next lets talk about the Toms or the Tom-Toms. These are basically the same drum, just different sizes, and so we can get different pitches. We usually refer to these as high Tom, mid Tom, low Tom, you will see drum sets that have more Toms or fewer Toms, but theyre all the Toms. They can give a nice round tone to them, and we will use them as parts of beats or in fills, which we will discuss at another point. We also have cymbals surrounding us very often, and usually the biggest one is the Ride Cymbal. Although we can crash it, we most often play patterns with the tip of the stick on it. Other cymbals around the set could be Crash Cymbals, and we hit them with a glancing blow so as not to put all the stress right into the middle of the cymbal and potentially crack it. We can have different sizes, which will be different pitches of Crash Cymbals. If we have a smaller cymbal, it could be a Splash Cymbal. We can also have other kinds of different special effect Cymbals. But a basic drum set has a Base Drum, Snare Drum, Hi-Hat, a Ride Cymbal, and at least one Crash Cymbal, and then some number of Toms. I consider a basic set, three Toms. You will see a lot of rock and roll kids right now, particularly that have two Toms, but I like the idea of creating patterns out of a set of three; high, mid and low. Those are the members of the drum set.