Kick It: A Social History of the Drum Kit

ISBN : 9780190683863

Matt Brennan
392 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Mar 2020
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The drum kit has provided the pulse of popular music from before the dawn of jazz up to the present day pop charts. Kick It, a provocative social history of the instrument, looks closely at key innovators in the development of the drum kit: inventors and manufacturers like the Ludwig and Zildjian dynasties, jazz icons like Gene Krupa and Max Roach, rock stars from Ringo Starr to Keith Moon, and popular artists who haven't always got their dues as drummers, such as Karen Carpenter and J Dilla. Tackling the history of race relations, global migration, and the changing tension between high and low culture, author Matt Brennan makes the case for the drum kit's role as one of the most transformative musical inventions of the modern era. Kick It shows how the drum kit and drummers helped change modern music-and society as a whole-from the bottom up.



Introduction: Hanging around with musicians

Chapter 1: Clever drummers, primitivism, entrepreneurialism, and the invention of the trap drummer's outfit

DT The transatlantic slave trade

DT The snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals come together

DT The birth of highbrow and lowbrow music

DT Being a drummer in nineteenth century America

DT Tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs

DT The trap drummer's outfit

Chapter 2: Noisy drummers, ragtime, jazz, and the avant-garde

DT Ragged time

DT Instruments of a lower order

DT Trap drummers, sound effects, and moving pictures

DT Noisy women, immigrant cultures, and Tin Pan Alley

DT The birth of jazz

DT Quiet in the studio!

DT Drums and noise conquer the classical world

Chapter 3: Studious drummers, selling drum outfits, standardization, and stardom

DT Fakers versus readers

DT Selling the drum kit

DT The drum outfit travels the world

DT Cymbal making and the invention of the hi-hat

DT Swing bands and star drummers

DT Slingerland and the standardization of the drum outfit

Chapter 4: Creative drummers, artistry, virtuosity, and playing time

DT Prodigies and showmen

DT Bebop and the melody of the drum kit

DT Drummers and drum makers in dialogue

DT The rise of the backbeat

DT The drum kit in Britain and the birth of beat groups

DT The recruitment of Ringo

DT Theorizing creativity on the drum kit

Chapter 5: Working drummers, musical labour, role playing, and authorship

DT The job of a session drummer

DT The job of a rock star drummer

DT The globalization of drum kit production

DT Credit where credit is due

DT Song authorship and getting paid

Chapter 6: Indispensable drummers, drum machines, and record production

DT The drum kit on record

DT The multi-track recording studio

DT Diasporic drumming practices and dance records

DT Rise of the machines

DT From the margins to the centre of the mix

DT Drummers as producers

DT Augmenting the drum kit and drumming without drummers

Conclusion: The tyranny of the snare drum




About the author: 

Matt Brennan is Reader in Popular Music at the University of Glasgow. He has served as Chair of the UK and Ireland branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) and published several books in the field of popular music studies. His previous monograph, When Genres Collide, was named as one of Pitchfork's Favourite Music Books of 2017.

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