Drummer Tony Allen | © Bernard Benant
Producer Jlin aka Jerrilynn Patton | © Mahdumita Nandi
The first drum set came on the market in 1918 and triggered a musical revolution: It took over urban dance music and established the triad of bass drum, snare and hi-hat as the combination used the world over. While percussion in European music had long only had an embellishing function, now the drummed backbeat became the heartbeat of music. In others words, the beats practiced by the African diaspora in North America and the Caribbean completely realigned European-influenced music.
100 Years of Beat tells this story and investigates the relationship between played and programmed beats. It presents style-influencing drummers and explores (back) beat concepts from Brazil, Japan, Ghana, and the Congo as well as the rhythms of Indian and Colombian music.
When in the eighteenth century drums were prohibited in North America—partly in fear that enslaved Africans and African Americans would use them as a means to organize revolts—the instruments disappeared, but not the drumming. Instead of using instruments, people then drummed on barrels and with spoons and the “pattin’ juba” (also known as the “hambone”) arose. This dance that uses the entire body as a drum introduced the roles given to the various frequencies that were later transferred to the bass drum, snare and hi-hat.
The first proto-jazz dance orchestras of the late nineteenth century performed with multiple drummers, each playing on one drum. Then, in 1918, the Ludwig Drum Company in Chicago put the first drum set on the market with bass drum, snare, hi-hat, tom toms and cymbals. With two foot-pedals, drummers were now able to play four instruments at one time. Similar to “pattin’ juba,” now only one body was responsible for the beat.
HKW curator Detlef Diederichsen explores the music of the past 100 years and traces leitmotifs of pop history from unexpected perspectives.
Part of 100 Years of Now