Most Western instruments have suffered modifications during the early to mid 19th century — valves, fingering systems, string tension …
There is one instrument that doesn”t need any of these, and the changes consist only in modifications in measurements (tuning standards have arisen over the same period), accuracy in manufacturing and changes of lubricant: the “straight” tenor trombone.
In my humble opinion, the GHB aka the Great Highland Bagpipe or the War Pipes as some historians like to call them, has changed the least over the last 400 years. (Though It is still mouth blown, and although the chanter, drones and reeds were originally made of wood, ivory mounts, (occasionally metal) and cane and animal hide bags, modern technological advances in plastics (including plastic chanter reeds and plastic decorative mounts) and synthetic bags have stayed true to the original design.
The pipes have been around since BCA days and there is ample evidence from around the globe that different cultures have made many alterations like, bellows, metal keys to extend the range or pipes made in the scale of G, A, or C etc. rather than the B flat scale the pipe maker and the competition scene gradually settled on for the GHB.
Think of the uillean/union pipes, or the northumbrian pipes. We also have digital/mini pipes and practice chanters that try and emulate the Highland Bagpipes.
I am all for this, for the changes, for the sound, for the newer generations and cultures that brings more people to beat a path to our Highland music and arts but ultimately there is no substitute for the Great Highland Bagpipe as it is traditionally made by our pipe makers. The unique sound is in good hands. There is none that can match it. More and more pipers are returning to the older, natural materials produced by nature, not the sciences, and in this sense this instrument will continue and I take pleasure and satisfaction from knowing that when I play this instrument, apart from a gradual scale shift from A to B flat, I feel connected to individual pipers going back hundreds of years as I experienced the same sound and feelings that they did. i. e. vibrated from my head, through my body and down to my toes as it passes through my bones, blood and internal organs.
People will probably think “the Drum”, but that’s not really true. This is reasonable facsimile of the first one.
Hand drums were an improvement that allowed for some subtlety. This is a west African talking drum. A player holds it under their arm and alters the top tension by squeezing it while playing.
The trap kit was invented in the US to use in jazz bands, and made more voices available to the drummer. This is a jazz kit.
Rock, however, required bigger, badder, and louder. This is what Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, and Brecker Brothers)) sits behind
This is the drummer’s equivalent of the solidbody guitar. Digital sampling has made it possible to assign any sound to any pad. And practice on headphones.
The 80s saw the rise of the digital drum machine, with Steely Dan’s “Wendell”, and Roger Linn’s LM1. But the drum kit that ruled the world on on most hiphop records was the Roland TR-808. The kick drum that’s ruled the world for the last 30 years is actually a sample that’s built into this thing.
But the latest development in percussion technology, so far, is in this very computer. I record using a program called Logic Pro X, and I have literally dozens of kits in software. I play them using a keyboard. Here’s what I look at when doing it.
Drums have evolved