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EP 27 - Trap Drummers and Sound Effect Instruments with Nick White

Nick takes us back to a time when trap drummers were king and could be found in every theater around the country. He shares his vast collection of sound effect Instruments with us and plays examples of some of his favorite pieces. He also tells us the full history of trap drummers and describes what it would have been like to be a working drummer in the early 1900's.

Life was very different back then for musicians but drummers were never short of work thanks to the overwhelming need for theaters to keep the audience entertained by supplementing silent movies with sound effects. We learn all about where they would work, what instruments they would use, how they got around to the gigs, and the manufacturers who created these fascinating instruments.

Here is some great information directly from Nicks website:

"Few drummers these days recall the life of an early 20th century drummer, and the many circumstances they were faced with that would often require creativity, and an extensive branching out of their instrument collection. Basic additions to the trap kit were ratchets for off-beats, and triangles for soft strains and theatre work. When jobs at motion picture houses were widely in demand, sound effect instruments added realism to the silent screen. These basics of these would often include a songbird whistle, cuckoo whistle, clog mallets (for dancing scenes), and a duck call that could produce farm animal sounds. Larger cinemas would separate the drummer from the effects, having a full table of “contraptions” (or "traps") for thunderstorm sounds, vehicle sounds, and animal sounds. Every time the screen showed a locomotive, a rooster, a gunshot, a doorbell, a dog barking, a streetcar, or even a growling bear, the traps drummer would be prepared!

When the silent film era ended in 1927, the need for the more bizarre effects diminished. Jazz songs with amusing themes about train travel would have the drummer picking up the train whistle once in a while; and, a “billy goat stomp” would start with humorous bleat, but the need to pack your case with car horns and horse hooves was certainly gone. Sound effect instruments had a brief second calling in radio, but as many of the radio studios would build their own effects, the need for the portable traps that a drummer could buy from his local drum shop slowly faded away."

Check out Nicks website here:

Find his awesome page on Instagram at @weeklytrapdrummer

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