Where Drummers are Heading
I've never really been big on long, concert drum solos. There are people who think that such percussive orgies are the most awesome experience in the world, something like a sonic return to the primeval ooze.
Well, maybe for them there is some special part of their lymbic system which gets activated by the concert drum solo, but for the most part that particular set of neural firings has never seemed especially important to me.
Still, there is something to this intuition exhibited by my lymbic-motivated peers. The oldest instrument ever found is a neanderthal flute, but I'd be willing to bet that the drum is actually the oldest instrument. Surprisingly, however, the *drum set* has not been around that long:
The first drum sets were put together in the late 1800s sometime after the invention of the bass drum pedal. This invention made it possible for one person to play several percussion instruments (snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals) at one time. The set developed as it was used to accompany jazz musicians in New Orleans during the 1920s.
As new instruments were introduced to the drum set (tom-toms and the high hat cymbal) in the late 1920s and 1930s, new techniques developed. Gene Krupa, one of the greatest jazz drummers of the big band era, highlighted tom-toms in his pieces and did solos using the drum set as the featured instrument.
I used to be fairly impressed by a drummer named Buddy Rich, but that was a long time ago. However, and for the first time in decades (maybe ever), I've found a concert drum solo to be interesting. If you have a good pair of speakers (or headphones) hooked up to your computer (in order to appreciate the full effect of bass drum, and on up), then I'd highly recommend investing about eight minutes of your time in listening to this.
The drummer is Neil Peart, a member of long-established band called Rush. He is often billed as the most popular drummer today, since he is always voted number 1 in the magazines, Modern Drummer and Drummerworld. I think there is more to his success than popularity, for his use of tap-n-play, digital track music integration exhibits a cutting-edge, new form of life for the percussionist. In some ways, this moves drummers out of their speciality position into being much more general contributors to a band's overall sound. Again, some will find this a passe observation, but others might not have considered the full implication of this until they hear something like what Peart is doing. Listen for yourself.
 "Rhythmic Percussion" ThinkQuest Library (Accessed 11/21/06)