What is the history of the battery?

An instrument not so old as that!

The drum set is an assembly of instruments, which took shape at the beginning of the 20th century (1906). The elements that make it up (bass drum, snare drum, crash cymbals, ride cymbals, toms, etc.) existed long before! They were indeed found in classical orchestras or brass bands. But it's mainly thanks to jazz that the regrouping of all these elements in what we know today as drums took place, and also to the different technical evolutions of the beginning of the 20th century. This is why the very first drums were called "jazz", directly linked to the musical current that gave them life.

To reconnect with its deep origins, we must go back a long way: the snare drum (around 1850) and the bass drum (17th century) come from Europe. Cymbals, on the other hand, come from Eastern countries (Turkey, for example) and are, according to some historians, one of the oldest instruments in the world! Indeed, the very first traces of objects that can be likened to cymbals date from the 3rd millennium BC and were found in India. Drums (or toms), on the other hand, come to us from Africa and the cultures of the American Indians. They were certainly created at the same time as the clay pots. The hi-hat, an assembly of two cymbals turned over against each other, comes from a Roman percussion instrument dating from Antiquity: the scabellum.

With the evolution of the style in New Orleans, the drum set, which was at that time only an assembly between a bass drum, a snare drum and a cymbal, became enormously complex and reached for the first time its true status of drum set at the time of the golden age of jazz, during the bop period (1945-1969), thanks to among others drummers like Elvin Jones, Kenny Clarke, Louis Hayes, Max Roach, Roy Haynes or Art Blakey. Linked to the enrichment of what we call today the set, that is to say the choice of the different elements that will compose the instrument and make it specific and almost unique to each drummer, also according to the period and the style, we can also specify that, since the birth of the drums, the musicians have never stopped enriching the technical possibilities of the instrument, in relation to their personal musical world.

The drums, the jazz instrument par excellence, have always been represented by a majority of Americans: Elvin Jones, Joe Morello, Philly Joe Jones, Louis Hayes, Roy Haynes, Dannie Richmond, Victor Jones, Max Roach, Connie Kay, Buddy Rich, Kenny Washington, Herlin Riley, Marvin Smith, Terry Line Carrington, Lex Humphries, Joe Chambers, Art Taylor, Vinnie Colaiuta, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Al Foster, Billy Cobham, Dennis Chambers, Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Bill Stewart, behind soloists like Kenny Garrett, Chris Potter, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Chick Corea, etc.

In Switzerland, however, we also have our share of celebrities, such as Daniel Humair, Jojo Mayer or Christian Schlatter. Every good drummer would dream of improving his skills and taking some drum lessons with these stars, but this is mostly not possible. To take drum lessons in Lausanne, you will generally have to fall back on the schools present in the area.


Why take drum lessons rather than another instrument? You will find the answer by reading our article about it: Taking drum lessons?