Percussion Equipment Alternatives To The Drumkit

Other than the standard drumkit, there are many types of

Percussion is a much-neglected area of music. Many people just see percussion as the standard drumkit that you bang on behind the band to keep time. Perhaps the first "shake-up "of these ideals, was the appearance of Chano Pozo, a Cuban drummer. When he joined Dizzy Gillespie's band in 1947, a New York audience was held spell bound for half an hour by his West African chanting and polyrhythms played on the conga.

Since then, several artists have risen to fame on the wings of the percussion beat such as Tito Puente, working in the latin community with bandleader Machito, Mongo Santamaria, who inspried many 60's percussionists and had a hit with Herbie Hancock on the song"Watermelon Man", Airto Moreira, rising in the world of fusion with such masters as Chick Corea, Weather Report, and Miles Davis, Trilok Gurtu, mixing the rhythms of his native India with modern Jazz and Nana Vasconcelos, whose Brazilian roots help her in her work with orchestras, break dancers and jazz and marching bands.

Brazil has given us several percussion instruments. A cuica is a friction drum. Inside the skin of the drum, a reed is moistened by the drummer, who then puts pressure on the skin. This creates a moaning sound, which is popular in fusion. A berimbau is a traditional instrument, that looks like a bow strung with steel wire. From one end hangs a gourd, and the instrument is played with a shaker and stick, stone or coin, creating a wide variety of sounds, from vocalized moanings to rattles and beats. The shekere is quite possibly the most well-known of the Brazilian percussion instruments. It is an essential part of music based on the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomble. It consists of a gourd covered with beads and makes a rattling sound when when shaken in rhythm.



Africa has also given us several percussion instruments. To name just a few, the Ghanaian uduh, basically a water jug, adapted for use in music, gives more of a warm rounded sound than usual percussion instruments. The African talking drum has strings stretched across the outside of a narrow waisted body. The head of the drum is struck with a curved stick, the tone and pitch being altered by squeezing the strings that surround the body.

A creative percussionist will use any hard surface available to make his rhythm heard. More unusual percussion instruments are being developed everyday. For great examples of this, check out the Broadway plays "Stomp" and "Blue Man Group". The next time you listen to music, listen a little closer to the rhythm section. Perhaps you will hear the sounds of Brazil and Africa behind that pop beat!

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