New Orleans Drumming
Drum Kit
About the book
Copyright 2002-2003
1900-1945 1945-1970 1970-2000 Drum Techniques > 1945 - 1970

In the hybrid post war years many style borders were crossed and when jazz, gospel and rhythm-and-blues was crossbread with rhumba and mambo rhythms in the 1950's, the modern soul, rock and funk music could freely take off. In setting the new standards for 'grooving' on the modern drum set, again - as with the initiating of the early trap set - New Orleans drummers played a catylyzing part.

Eager for new developments the postwar drummers combined traditional Second Line elements - phrasing, accenting, rolling, timing - with innovations of the day like bebop technique and Latin rhythms.

- snare drum
Figure 3-3 shows a shuffle time pattern played entirely on the snare. This practice was new to rhythm and blues but long time routine for Crescent City drummers who overheard brass band and trad jazz drummers do the same thing all thier lives. The traditional snare technique was adjusted to the Latin and shuffle rhythms. This enabled drummers to produce a backbeat embedded in grace notes, larded with flams, drags and rolls.


- rhumba boogie
During the early 1950's the Latin rhythms of maracas, congas and cascara were being played on the drum set. Because Carribean music was all over town, New orleans drummers were among the first to try their hands at it. One of the first patterns used was the well-known rhumba figure played on snare, in which the brushes imitate the original maracas part.
"Hey Little Girl" by Professor Longhair, is one the first recorded R&B songs with a rhumba boogie piano and drum pattern (figure 3-5). Note the syncopated accents (fig. taken from SECOND LINE, more figs. in the book).

Soon sticks replaced the brushes and lots of variations of color, snare / rim / toms, occured. Figure 3-8 shows a much used syncopated bass line.
- conga and cascara
Charles "Hungry" Williams was known for his experiments with adapting Latin percussion patterns to the drum set. In his playing on "When I Meet My Girl" (Tommy Ridgley, 1957), Williams came upon the well-known drum set figure of performing the high-low conga accents with rimshot-on-snare and open snare or tom-tom.
The shrill, metal cascara sound was provided on drum set by using the bell of the cymbal, as in "Free, Single and Disengaged" (Huey Smith,'57) played by Hungry.

In 1958 the Latin cascara-cymbal and conga accents were masterfully applied by Earl Palmer on Ritchie Valens' major hit "La Bamba". The following year the Latin touch was brought together with gopsel singing on Ray Charles' famous "What'd I Say".

- the clave beat
Although the New Orleans two-beat and the Cuban clave vary in character, they share the same basic two-bar structure, guiding function and preference of cut time meter. Within the R&B of the late 1950's the two "keys" of rhythm were combined and dovetailed into each other in a natural way.

One very common Second Line figure from this period, for both bass drum and string bass, is a "two-three" pattern with a Cuban "three-side". Watch the bass line in this one.

figure 3 - 16 [coming soon]

Also the "three-two" pattern is often heard in New Orleans. The bass drum closely follows the original pattern, while the buzzing snare plays around the accents.

figure 3 - 17 [coming soon]
1945 - 1970
From R&B to Soul and Funk