History of Percussion

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  • Topic: Drum kit, Percussion instrument, Cymbal
  • Pages : 10 (3973 words )
  • Download(s) : 900
  • Published : November 27, 2010
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Percussion is known to have been around since the beginning of civilization, in all cultures and all major civilizations around the world. In 6000 B.C., the first time of a percussion instrument was evolved, and it was simply anything that could be found that could be hit together to create a sound. Percussion instruments have been used and associated with strong ceremonial, sacred, or symbolic events. For example, in Africa, drums symbolize and protect tribal royalty. The drums symbolize a family, sharing the same blood and feelings. The drums were are used to communicate through the villages and used as a type of language to transmit messages. In medieval and Renaissance Europe, the snare drum was used in the infantry to send coded instructions to the soldiers.

Some of the earliest percussion instruments are quite similar to modern percussion instruments in simplistic ways. There were many different types of percussion instruments used in each culture around the world. The first membrane drums are said to be consisted of a hollowed out tree trunk covered at one or both ends with the skins water animals, fish, or reptiles (mammals not yet used for skin). Later, the skins of hunted cattle were used. The bodies of the drums were usually made of wood, metal, earthenware, or bone. The heads were fastened onto the body by glue, nails, or wooden pegs. Sometimes, the head would be laced or lapped to the body of the drum.

In every culture, you can find numerous representations of drums, in a variety of all shapes and sizes that can be found in the art of Egypt, Southern Africa, Assyria, India, Samaria, China, and Persia. The Greeks and Romans possessed membrane drums. Small kettle drums (also known as akers, nakeres, nacara, or nacaries) and tabors of Arabic or Saracenic origin arrived in Europe in the 13th century crusades. Many of our modern percussion instruments have roots in Africa. Africans brought their drums and rhythms to the West during the slave trade, and a lot of modern music, styles, and instruments have evolved from that time period. Even though we have modernized these instruments, they still remain almost the same in Africa. They still collect and use natural materials found in the village, hollowed out tree trunks, animal skins, dried seeds, gourds, shells, etc. There is never any fiber glass being used, no synthetic drum heads, and no factories making these authentic drums. African drums are completely made by hand and using extremely simple tools. In an African drum ensemble, there are six main percussion instruments that make up a “family” within the ensemble. The Atsimevu, which is the lowest in the ensemble, is a large barrel drum about five feet long, and is played with a stick in one hand and one bare hand. This is the father or the mother of the ensemble and leads the ensemble with cues. The aunt/uncle would be the Sogo, a smaller drum deep in tone. The brother and sister is the kidi, a smaller high pitched drum, and the child is the cagan, a very small, high pitched sound that can be heard miles away. The axatse is a rattle that is used in the ensemble and is made out of a hollowed out gourd and is covered in laced shells to create the shaker noise. It is the blood of the family, keeping everything together and in time, flowing through every member of that family. The gankogui is a vibrating iron bell that is also played within the ensemble. It has a large iron bell with a small one attached to it that is higher in pitch, representing a mother holding a baby. The Africans used their drums to communicate through the village. Each tone and sound had a different meaning, and represented a different thought.

In traditional Australian Aboriginal cultures, percussion was utilized by hand clapping and leg slapping. Decorated drums were made from hollow logs and some were covered by reptile skins. Large conch shells were used in the Northern coastal areas for rattles. Percussion usage in the continent of...
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