In this episode, Daniel recounts the fascinating story of the tom tom, from its origins as a Chinese ethnic instrument used for making sound effects, to its current role as a key component of the drum set.
What’s covered in this session:
- A definition of the term “Tom Tom,” and how it’s been used over the years.
- A descriptions of “Chinese” tom toms and their adaption as sound effects by early users of the drum set.
- Two kinds of tom toms that were NOT adapted by early drum set players.
- How early jazz was the first style to integrate the tom tom in its modern capacity – to play “fill ins.”
- Gene Krupa modernized the look and usage of tom toms in the 1930s.
- Bebop drummers opted for smaller and more melodic approach with their tom toms.
- In the 1940s and 50s, R&B drummers established the drum set sizes that are still standard today.
- In the mid-1950s, the drummers of early rock roll like Sandy Nelson revived the concept of the tom tom feature.
- In the late 1960s, the Beatles rewrote the book on what was possible to do with tom toms in the studio.
- The Beatles’ influence led to toms sounding much deeper and “thuddier” in 1970s rock and pop.
- The introduction of “power toms,” and the ever growing use of electronic after-effects like echo and reverb gave the toms a “larger than life” sound in the 1980s.
- The 1990s saw a return to capturing more of a natural sound out of tom toms.
- Here’s what a classic Chinese tom tom looks like.
- 1920s drum sets integrated the Chinese tom, as well as various classical percussion.
- Gene Krupa’s 1930s work with Benny Goodman’s big band modernized the look and use of tom toms, and made them a featured part of the drum set.
- Art Blakey epitomized the use of smaller toms in bebop.
- Early rock drummers like Sandy Nelson gave toms a new lease on life in the 1950s.
- Ringo Starr “treated” his toms, putting towels on them to get a different effect in the studio.