The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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In any analysis of the role of the drummer in the development of jazz it should be borne in mind that an essential difference exists on several levels-dynamically, tonally, empirically, prag­matically—between the terms "drums" and "percussion." The drum specifically, in one form or another, has been an ancestor of jazz as far back as Dr. Marshall Stearns was able to trace its genealogy.1 A set of three drums at West African tribal cere­monies may have produced, two or three hundred years ago, a complex of rhythms such as 4/4, 6/8 and 3/4 simultaneously, without regard for bar lines. Drums of various sizes were pum-meled by the fingers, fists and feet of performers in New Orleans' Congo Square in the late nineteenth century.
Percussion, taken in the broad sense to embrace all instruments that must be struck to produce a sound, and in the special sense applied to it by jazzmen to denote the variety of equipment at the disposal of the jazz drummer, is a more comprehensive art than drumming in that its products are not limited to a few specific tone colors produced by drums. Drumming is predomi­nantly rhythmic in nature; percussion involves, at times, both melody and harmony. The completely equipped percussionist can double on bells, chimes, xylophone and related mallet-struck in­struments. Tuned tympani and tonal effects on the snare drum have also been used effectively by many jazz drummers.
The history of jazz percussion, in direct relationship to the bar-lines, syncopations and compositional forms of the earliest jazz, is of comparatively recent origin. Washboards and other primi-