New Orleans Drumming
Drum Kit
About the book
Copyright 2002-2003
1900-1945 1945-1970 1970-2000 Drum Techniques > 1 New Orleans Brass Bands
The traditional New Orleans brass band is made up of 10 to 11 pieces: 3 cornets or trumpets, 2 trombones, 2 saxophones, 1 clarinet, 1 sousaphone, 1 bassdrum and 1 snaredrum. Bands differ by size and instrumentation and over the years they have gone through several changes of style.

The two-man drum section produces the sound of a one-man drumset. They vary the music with interlocking rhythm patterns, played hand-in-glove. Fig. 1-1 shows the basic two-beat pattern (taken from "SECOND LINE", more figures in the book).

The small bass drum cymbal is struck with a round metal wire beater called a 'coat hanger'. It produces a double 'cling' beat, just like the double cymbals used earlier and the hi-hats used later.

In slow tempos snaredrummers make use of two-handed rolls. The medium and up tempo rolls, though, can be done with one hand rolling (or dragging)and the other hand beating. So while the L-hand gives four steady pulses and the R-hand rolls on '2'and '4', the backbeat is supported by both hands, generating a very specific drive.

Alfred Williams
Alfred Williams

New Orleans drummers play their press rolls with a loose grip. Try what Alfred Williams does here: rolling the snare while holding your cigar.

Here are a few Second Line steps as eye witnessed by a choreographer. "The dancers moved with pelvis thrown forward, the upper body slightly tilted back, loose and responding freely to the rhythm, legs slightly apart and propelling a shuffling step with a subtle bounce - a step charactaristic of Africa and found often in Brazil and the West Indies." Try them!
1 New Orleans Brass Bands
1 New Orleans Brass Bands
Cadence and Intro
2 Traditional Jazz
Baby Dodds
Portret gallary