Highhat Paradiddle is probably the world’s leading professor of Drum Solo Studies. Now Emeritus Professor of Drum Stools at the prestigious University of Steve (formerly Stroud Agricultural College Annexe), he has produced the world’s leading paper on this great enigma. For almost as long as humanity has existed, there have been drum solos, but nobody on Earth really knows why.
Of course, back in the mists of prehistory, hitting something resonant with a stick was probably one of the few ways of making a noise. So, in a way it is inevitable that drumming would have evolved in most, if not all, prehistoric societies. At least until the headman of the tribe got a headache from it, then it would have stopped… suddenly.
Drums exist in more or less every society; mainly it seems as a way of keeping those who like to hit things occupied and away from hitting other members of the tribe. This is also – probably – why the drums have featured so heavily in military music. Probably as the people who most like hitting things, at least up until the increased use of ranged weapons, would naturally have gravitated towards the army. Of course, each army when not at war would have needed to find something for its soldiers to hit – apart from each other in training – hence the increased use of the drums in the military.
It also explains why up until the modern age, armies would go into battle with the drummers leading the way. Mainly in the hope that the drummers would be hit first and the rest of the soldiers would then be able to get a bit of peace back at the camp.
It is at this point, where Paradiddle’s latest theory comes to the fore. The decline in military drummers in modern warfare has had dire consequences, according to Paradiddle. He points out that modern societies no longer use them as expendable targets on the battlefield. Consequently, he says, the natural numbers of drummers produced in modern society would inevitably increase.
As a side point here, Paradiddle has put forward a theory as to why all cultures around the world produce drummers. He says that the only way to stop a drummer from drumming – at least temporarily – is to have sex with them. Thus, it seems the number of drummers in a society would always increase. Mainly as more and more tribes, or later communities, encouraged their nubile young women to have sex with as many drummers as possible, as often as possible. At least so that the rest of the tribe or community could get some peace, for a minute or two anyway.
This increase in the number of drummers, and the decrease in the military wastage of drummers, is what Paradiddle claims led to the rise in the number of drummers. Hence, he argues, inevitably, leading to an increase in the number of drum solos.
As evidence, Paradiddle points to the number of inordinately long drum solos in the 1970s. A time when anti-war protest campaigning – especially during the Vietnam era in the US – and anti-war feeling, in general, was at its highest.
Therefore, Paradiddle argues the only way a society can ensure its peace and safety from the drum solo is to be permanently at war. Making sure that every regiment has its full complement of drummers on the front line.
Many feel that this would be a price well worth paying, if only for a little more peace and quiet.