Topic: History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads  (Read 2098 times)

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Joe

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« on: November 28, 2003, 08:57 PM »
On an older drumkit, the bass drum will often have a landscape or similar scene painted on it.  How did this come into being?

jokerjkny

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2003, 06:01 AM »
hmm... never heard of this, tho i could see a custom head done in this fashion.  is this an accepted historical drummer fact, where these landscapes were regularly painted on reso heads?

where did you see this?

Mister Acrolite

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2003, 07:17 AM »
hmm... never heard of this, tho i could see a custom head done in this fashion.  is this an accepted historical drummer fact, where these landscapes were regularly painted on reso heads?

where did you see this?

It was very common, although I don't know much about the history of the practice.

Here are some examples:






The second one is a recent paint job, styled after the more old-fashioned ones.

Jon E

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2003, 07:49 AM »
Maybe it had to do with "house bands" playing in certain locations.

"We'll be at Marty's Lakeside Retreat in the Poconos Aug. 4th thru 22nd.  Be sure to tip your waitress."

A nice wwodland scene would work well there.

 8) ;)  I don't know.

Bart Elliott

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2003, 08:15 AM »
I don't know the complete history behind it, but I know that it's been going on for decades ... as far back as the 1930's if not earlier.

Many drumkits, like those of Chick Webb, as an example, had Chinese Tom-Toms which had colorful decorated designs on the drumheads ... and not just the resonant heads. I have several of these Chinese Toms, and both heads are painted. I guessing, but suspect that the idea for the painted Kick drum resonant heads came from the Chinese.

The history of the drumkit is fairly short as it wasn't that long ago that it was created ... being brought into the dance hall. I know that bass drumheads were painted prior to this date, and the Kick drums that were used in these early drumkits were actually converted marching bass drums.

This is a cool topic and one that I'll do some digging to find some answers. Searching in a Ludwig or Leedy history book would probably be a good place to start. I suspect that someone like John Aldridge of Not So Modern Drummer would have the answer as well.

Chris Whitten

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2003, 08:33 AM »
I'd never heard of this either and thought if it did exists it would be tacky, but I like MrA's examples, especially the mountain scene.
Kind of looks like the drum kit you might play in the hotel from The Shining!
Much better than the hunting scenes engraved on Carl Palmers kit anyway. ;D

Mark Schlipper

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2003, 09:27 AM »
Although not a landscape, this is one of my favorite examples of vintage painted drums


Sean Welch

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2003, 01:44 PM »
Although not a landscape, this is one of my favorite examples of vintage painted drums


FAR more tasteful than an idea I've been kicking around, which is to put a Trucker's Favorite Lady on my front head :-X


Roger Beverage

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2003, 05:27 PM »
These scenes were almost always illuminated by a light inside the bass drum which served to keep the BD heads dry and tight.  

If you have ever played with calfskin heads in an old pavilion style dance hall, where the windows were open all the way around in the summer, it makes perfect sense.

My first teacher had a scene on his head, but I never asked him why.  

Roger

Floyd42

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2003, 05:33 AM »
I do not know where the idea of painting landscape scenes on bass drum heads comes from... But I have a few pics that I find great.

A great collection of vintage drums (do not know from where it comes):



A beautiful ludwig from the twenties:

paul

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2003, 06:27 AM »
A bass drum head is usually a large white space just begging to be filled with some kind of graphic.  Given that early bass drums were even larger than today's, going up to 32" in diameter, it would be surprising if people hadn't painted something interesting on them.

I've heard several older drummers wax nostalgic about what was painted on their bass heads.

I'd bet that this habit stopped when companies started putting logo heads on bass drums, and paying drummers to play their drums.  If you're giving Roy Haynes or Joe Morello drumsets on a regular basis you want to make sure that the company name is visible, and that the viewer's eye is not distracted by a colorful graphic.

Roger Beverage

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2003, 04:45 PM »
I've got a gorgeous bird's eye maple 12 x 26  in my cellar just waiting for this kind of treatment.  

Roger

BigBillInBoston

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2003, 09:36 AM »
As one of the "longer serving" drummer's in the forum I thought I'd add my $.02 on this.

Based on old photos I've seen over the years the practice was very common in the 30's and earlier for "dance band" drummers. And, I'd have to agree that it was likely just due to the fact that there was this large space available for a scene which could be used to visually "set a mood" for the band.

I'd also agree that the practice may have changed (at least in part) as drum endorsements became more common and as drummers wanted to be more clearly identified (the "initials in sheild" era).

My first set of drums (bought used in 1960) was a professionally used, high-end "Radio King" Slingerland kit from (I would guess) the late 30's. The large BD (28"?) had a tropical scene on the front head and 3 lights inside the BD that illuminated the scene and also sequentially flashed on and off  :D. Very cool.

Maybe this is a "tradition" that ought to be restarted. ;)

BigBill

P.S. here's a reference from the PAS (Percussive Arts Society) website on the subject.  http://www.pas.org/Museum/tour/0898.cfm   It notes that the marufacturers provide various BD scenes as options and (as noted in an earlier post) that the lights helped keep the calk-skin heads tight.

Dave Lemonds

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History of landscape scenes on bass drum resonant heads
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2003, 02:15 PM »
Okay- I just gave my Dad a ring to get his take on this (He used to be a big band drummer). He said the landscapes were just a trendy thing to do, and the light bulb inside the bass drum not only helped with the humidity factor, but it also lit up the painting.
Imagine being in a dance hall atmosphere with low lights and looking up on stage to see the outlines of the musicians and the front of the bass drum glowing behind this cool painting. Given that most people were not on sensory overload like we all are today, I imagine that was a pretty cool effect.

 

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