drum, literally solo, an English critic observes that 'until Beethoven's time the drum had, with rare exceptions, been used as a mere means of producing noise—of increasing the din of the fortes; but Beethoven, with that feeling of affection which he had for the humblest member of the orchestra, has here raised it to the rank of a solo instrument.'
The late Mr. Hogarth says that 'to play it well is no easy matter. A single stroke of the drum may determine the character of a whole movement; and the slightest embarrassment, hesitation, or misapprehension of the requisite degree of force, may ruin the design of the composer.'
There are many sorts of sticks. The best are of whalebone with a small wooden button at the end, covered with a thin piece of very fine sponge. With these every effect, loud or soft, can be produced. A small knob, not exceeding 1¼ inch in diameter, entirely made of felt on a flexible stick, answers very well. India-rubber discs are not so good. Worst of all are large clumsy knobs of cork, covered with leather, as they obscure the clear ring of the kettledrum, so different from the tone of a bass drum.
Very large drums, going below F, have not a good musical tone, but mere thunder. Thin transparent skins have a better tone than the opaque white ones. The right place to strike a kettle-drum is at about one-fourth of its diameter. A roll is written in either of the following ways,
and is performed by alternate single strokes of the sticks. We shall see presently that the side-drum roll is produced in quite a different manner.
Drum parts were formerly always written, like horn and trumpet parts, in the key of C, with an indication at the beginning as to how they were to be tuned, as 'Timp. in E♭, B♭,' or 'Timp. in G, D,' etc.; but it is now usual to write the real notes.
To tune drums of the ordinary construction, a key has to be applied successively to each of the several screws that serve to tighten or loosen the head. In French-made drums there is a fixed T-shaped key-head to each screw. But even then it takes some time to effect a change, whence several attempts have been made to enable the performer to tune each drum by a single motion instead of turning seven or eight screws. In Potter's system, the head is acted on by several iron bars following the external curvature of the shell, and converging under it; and they are all drawn simultaneously by a screw turned by the foot of the performer, or by turning the whole drum bodily round.
Cornelius Ward took out a patent in 1837 for the same object. The head is drawn by an endless cord passing over pulleys from the outside to the inside of the drum, where it goes over two nuts, having each two pulleys. These nuts approach and recede from each other by means of a horizontal screw, nearly as long as the diameter of the drum, the handle of which comes just outside the shell, and is turned by the performer whenever he requires to tune the drum. A spring indicator shows the degree of tension of the cord, and consequently the note which the drum will give, so that the performer may tune his instrument by the eye instead of the ear. Gautrot, of Paris, has another plan, viz. a brass hoop fitting closely inside the shell, and pressing against the head. A handle, working a rack and pinion motion, raises or lowers this hoop, and so tunes the drum by altering the pressure against the head. Einbigler, of Frankfort-on-the-Main, makes drums with a similar internal hoop, but worked by a different mechanism; they are used in the theatre of that town.
There will always be some objection to these schemes from the fact of the head being an animal membrane, and consequently not perfectly homogeneous, but requiring a little more or less tension in some part of its circumference, unless, as in Einbigler's drums, there are small screws with fly-nuts all round the upper hoop, for the purpose of correcting any local inequality of tension. Writers on acoustics seem, to have been disheartened by this inequality from extending their experiments on the vibration of membranes. Even Chladni does not pursue the subject very far. We must therefore be content with some empirical formula for determining the proportion which two drums should bear to each other, so that the compass of the larger should be a fourth above that of the smaller. We have already said that the lowest notes of the two drums should be respectively
. Now the numbers of the vibrations due to these two notes are in the proportion of three to four. Assuming that the surfaces, or the squares of the diameters, of the membranes are in the inverse ratio of the number of vibrations they give, the tension being equal (which is true of metal plates of equal thickness), and calling the larger diameter D and the smaller d, we should have this proportion D2 : d2 :: 4 : 3, whence D : d :: 2 : √3, or as 2 : 1.732, or very nearly as 30 : 26. Practically this is found to be a very suitable proportion, the drums at the French Opera being 29 and 25¼ inches diameter, and those lately at the Crystal Palace 28 and 24¼. No drum should exceed 39 inches or thereabouts.
Kettle-drums in German are called Pauken; in Italian, timpani; in Spanish, atabales; in French, timbales: the two latter evidently from the Arabic tabl and the Persian tambal. There are two very complete Methods for the kettledrums, viz. 'Metodo teorico pratico per Timpani,' by P. Pieranzovini, published at Milan by Ricordi [App. p.618 "Pieranzovini wrote a concerto for the drums"]: and a 'Méthode complète et raisonnée de Timbales,' by Geo. Kastner, published in Paris by Brandus (late Schlesinger).
3. The third kind of drum consists of a wooden