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Drum kit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


A drum kit (or drum set or trap set) is mostly a collection of drums, cymbals and sometimes other percussion instruments arranged for convenient playing by a single drummer.

The drummer uses drum sticks to strike the drum head and to create a vibration. Bass drum pedals are used for the bass drum. The hi-hat is usually controlled also by a pedal, connected via a stand.


A drum kit from the player's perspective, showing a crash cymbal,  hi-hat, high tom-tom, ride cymbal, snare drum, floor tom-tom and bass drum.
A drum kit from the player's perspective, showing a crash cymbal, hi-hat, high tom-tom, ride cymbal, snare drum, floor tom-tom and bass drum.

Early drum kits were known as trap kits (from contraption). Though this term is now uncommon, it survives in the term trap case still given to a case used to transport stands, pedals, sticks, and miscellaneous percussion instruments, still commonly called traps.

Early kits usually consisted of a bass drum, a snare drum on a stand, a small cymbal and other small percussion instruments mounted on the bass drum or a small table, all played with drum sticks or brushes except for the bass drum. This drum is operated with one or more mechanical pedals. Due to being played with the foot (and to help distinguish from the bass guitar or string bass), the bass drum is also often referred to as the "kick" drum.

Modern kits and components

A drum kit with some additional cymbals and tom
A drum kit with some additional cymbals and tom

The exact collection of components to a drum kit varies greatly according to musical style, personal preference, financial resources, and transportation options of the drummer (See Breakables for more information about personalizing).

Though the use of two bass drums in a kit can be traced back decades to jazz drummers like Louie Bellson, more recent drummers -- especially in hard rock and heavy metal -- have used dual bass drums. Since the 1980s, drummers have used electronic drums, either as by themselves or incorporated into a standard drum set. Cowbells, gongs, tambourines and other percussion instruments are sometimes used in drum sets.

Some drummers (such as Terry Bozzio, Billy Cobham and Dale Crover) have become famous for using very large drum kits ranging to several dozen components, including a vast array of tuned tom-toms that let them contribute melodies as well as rhythms. Others have opted for smaller kits: Billy Conway of Treat Her Right used a "cocktail drum" (a floor tom affixed with a tambourine and cowbell), while Leon Parker used a small kit, sometimes reduced to a single ride cymbal.

Drum set notation

Notation of drum kit music once commonly employed the bass clef, but a neutral clef of two parallel vertical lines, sometimes referred to as the percussion or drum clef, is usually preferred now. (All note letter names in the "Techniques" section refer to the bass clef.) Drum set notation is not standardized, although there are some common conventions. It is usual to label each instrument and technique when it is introduced or to add an explanatory footnote on the score or part or to provide a drum legend to clarify this.



Rolls: Diagonal lines across stem (or above whole note). Open hi-hat: o above high-G X. Closed hi-hat: + above high-G X. Rim click: X in E snare space. Rim shot: Diagonal slash through note head. Brush sweep: Horizontal line (replacing note head) in E snare space with slur to show brush is not lifted.

Dynamic accents

Light: -- (tenuto). Medium: >. Heavy: ^ (marcato).


  1. Slightly softer than surrounding notes: u (breve above or below--inverted--notehead)
  2. Significantly softer than surrounding notes: ( ) (note head in parentheses)
  3. Much softer than surrounding notes: [ ] (note head in brackets)

(Ghost note is a less formal alternative term which may refer either to anti-accentuation in general or to a particular degree of anti-accentuation--ghost notes are often considered to be especially faint.)

See also

  • List of drummers
  • Drum solo
  • Zendrum
  • Drummania

External links

  • Drum Recording Tutorial - a thorough guide to recording & mixing drums.
  • - A site full of videos and pictures of famous jazz and rock drummers. Also includes a forum.
  • Over 1000 Drum Related Tips.
  • Tomás Howie Drumming Web - The articles and exercises are intended to help you become a better drummer.
  • Pearl Drummers Forum - Largest Drumming forum on the web with many educational resources and tips.
  • - Largest online drum magazine on the web
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