This Article is About
evolution
goat skin
physical expression
physical burden
percussion instruments
musical bands
horn section
heart beat
drummers
Evolution Of The Junkanoo Drum
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Evolution Of the Junkanoo Drum

During the 1960 - 1980 drums were made from sheep and goat skin; and were the main percussion instruments of the parade. Their circular body, were once kegs used for the transportation of salt beef; They were extremely heavy, and created a physical burden for the drummers. So there was a frantic search for a replacement, that was lighter, but strong enough endure the physical pounding and vigor's of a street parade.

During the 1970 the tom - tom, a new type of drum was introduced; It was a drum that was originally used by regular musical bands. Made from synthetic skin, it gave a higher tenor pitch, and produced more rhythm, and was replacement the sheep skin in parades.

In 1990 a solution was found to reduce the weight of the drum; with the introduction of plywood soaked in water, held by clamps and glue to provide a circular body, needed for its' construction. However there were others that used containers made from tin in the construction also.

It wasn't long afterward that the goat skin was eliminated and replaced with the cow; this provided a deeper base than the goat, enhancing the flavor of it's melody and rhythm; relaying a transformation of excitement, a trance like physical expression of the participants, which visitors absorb and chants as the approaching group draws near.

The beating of the drum tends to correspond with the heart beat of the drummer, the parade starts with the first and second beat of the tom tom; which is answered by the third and forth base section of the parade, under the direction of the drum leader; the horn section will play a fanfare and the parade is launch into action, with drummers drumming, cow bellers shaking, dancers dancing, the parade explodes into a majestic display of cohesiveness, displaying the theme of months of preperations.

The leader of tom tom drummers; is responsible for the whole parade, they are like long distant runners, they will drum out rhythm from the beginning of the parade until the parade ends.

After completing their first lap, the groups are given a break to rest and recharge the drums. A small fire is lit under the drum, the heat causes the skin on the drum to expand, enhancing tone, melody and tempo. This toning process normally goes on for about fortyfive minutes and the drum is ready.

The song that is selected to blend with the theme, must be perfected by all section to the group, everybody must be in harmony, for maximum effect. The wind instrument adds a special flavour to this street parade, it enhances the effect of human emotion which relays a friendly disposition of competitors and visitors alike.


Street Talk

A lot of work goes into good quality instruments. Thanks for the article Alfred.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Dear Shawn, I am happy that the article was useful to you, thanks for your comment.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Excellent info, they looks similar to cuban's "tumbadora". Are they in any way related each other? I asked it because I am cuban and I love my music.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Dear Juan, They may be similar, that drum is most likely a cow skin drum, used in are carnival we call junkanoo..

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Dear Rob, Thank you very much for your comment, but your last article that I commented on was super for me, thanks again.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Well good for you Alfred, this was a article full of new info for me, enjoyed it immensely. One tends to take little notice or give thought to an instrument when its being played, this will make me think twice from now on..

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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