Jeremy’s Percussion Collection
Over the years I’ve had a strange relationship with percussion. From home-made shakers to drum machines, to a variety of live performers and friends – the language of rhythm has played a large part in my work. I don’t really consider myself a percussionist, yet my collection has grown quite nicely. I enjoy experimenting with them, and they always add something special to my music.
Here’s a brief look at some of my favorite percussion instruments…
- The Wasabi Acorn Shaker is my own invention. The acorns are not real – they are the kind you find at Target for decorative purposes. I got them during my squirrel phase and the Wasabi Peas can just screamed to be made into an instrument. The can has a ribbed texture so it can also be used like a guero.
- The spring thing is an attempt to make a larger version of something I bought from a store. These are typically made of a bamboo tube with a thin membrane of plastic on one end into which is inserted a spring.Finding the right combination of materials to scale this up has been a challenge. After trying a number of PVC solutions, I discovered the plastic container for some pretzels was perfectly designed. In addition to the “thunder” sounds of a spring thing, it has some other sound properties.
- Goya… oh boya!! Shakers made using different kinds of beans in different quantities inside cans.
Middle Eastern and East Asian percussion remains my favorite in terms of percussion sounds. This is a handmade darbuka from Turkey. This one is aluminum with a plastic head (Istanbul Mehmet). Purchased at Guitar Center as a floor model (ie cheap).
The darbuka is used heavily in dance music throughout the Middle East, providing a sharp, bright “pop” when played with the fingers. Currently my favorite drum because it is light, portable and doesn’t react to the elements.
- 22″ Frame Drum with beater
This is currently the largest drum in my collection in terms of the size of the head. I love to play this with brushes, which is what I did on many songs of Catch the Squirrel.
- 18″ Tar (aka Def) Middle Eastern Drum
Another drum that I enjoy playing with brushes.
- Fish Bendir
Audra brought this back from the Moroccan section of Epcot at Walt Disney World. There is a snare inside, so this drum produces a raspy sound along with the frame drum sound. While it was labelled as a Fish Bendir, it is not made of fish skin – it’s probably goat or cow hide. Unlike my other frame drums, this one is tanned a brown color.
- Small Frame Drum
This is a two-membrane drum, so it can be struck on both sides. Much smaller than my other frame drums, this doesn’t get a lot of use because the skin is very dried out and overstretched, so there isn’t much tension to create a tone.
- Udu Drum
The Udu is one of the most unusual percussion instruments. Usually made out of clay and featuring at least one hole for creating tones, the Udu drum comes in a variety of shapes and sizes all across Africa. It is played with bare hands and can be very painful until you get used to it. Sometimes membranes of skin (or in modern times, rubber/plastic) are added for additional tonal possibilities.
- 4.5″ Ritual Bowl Gong
Creates resonant tones heard in ancient Buddhist shrines and Chinese rituals. Typically made of bronze and/or copper.
- Bodhran (Irish Frame Drum)
This is Audra’s, but she won’t mind if I borrow it.
- Tingsha Bells/Cymbals
These are from a shop in New Orleans that specialized in items from Tibet and Nepal. This particular set of bells is from Nepal. These create a loud, clear tone.
- Asheiko? Congalita?
One of two different styles of West African drum that I have, this drum came to me from my friend Jim Nowak in Harrisburg. One of his clients at his hobby shop just left it there, and he didn’t have a use for it. This drum has a very low, deep resonance. I’ve seen drums with other names that look like this as well, so if anyone knows the correct name, let me know.
- Zills (finger cymbals)
I got these hand made, cast brass zills (finger cymbals) from a dealer on Ebay who is based in Canada but specializes in items from Syria. I was inspired to get these after watching a belly dancer at a Lebanese restaurant in Harrisburg – not because I wanted to belly dance, but rather becaue the sound is just so unique. I’m told these are better quality than ones made of brass sheet imported from Egypt or made in USA.
An Egyptian drum, this one has a goat skin head and the body is made out of clay.
West-African drum played with hands, sticks or brushes.
- Mystery Drum?
I’m not sure about this one. An ex-girlfriend gave it to me a long time ago, and I’m not sure what it is called. The body is clay, and the head may be goat, but not sure.
Still my very favorite drum to listen to and record. This ancient East Indian drum set is usually played in pairs. Most of my tabla experience has involved work with Bulu Rahman on our CD Bloomsburg to Bangladesh. I’ve also had the opportunity to perform with Topan Modak. (A better picture is on the way.)
- Clicky Things
Bones (cow), Castanets, Cow Bell, Claves
- Shaky Things
Eggz, shakers, home-made gourd maraca, rainstick.
- Uyot Seed Palm Fiber Hand Rattle
This Nigerian hand rattle made from uyot seeds and palm fiber is a staple of the Ibo tribe’s percussion ensemble. These currently reside within my Drum Tree.