of the Remo Roto Tom
Drum > Tim-Tom > Timp-Tom > Roto Tom
from a personal interview with Al Payson,
retired percussionist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Colgrass is credited with the introduction of melodic
drums in music and because of his desire to expand the possibilities
of tunable drums the need for the Roto Tom was developed.
Initially the tunable drum was known as the "Colgrass
Drum" The initial drum was based off of a toy drum by
Waulberg & Auge that they were experimenting with. The
original drums were given to a Paul Price in 1951 by Clarence
Waulberg Nephew of the company founder Bernard Waulberg. (1)
for the 1965 premiere of Rhapsodic Fantasy, Michael Colgrass,
faced with the task of making fifteen drums for his piece,
turned to his former University of Illinois
classmate, Albert Payson, for help in producing the drums.
(1) Payson and Colgrass
were former college classmates so it was a natural collaboration
for the two to work on a project together. His idea was based
on the principles of the Ludwig tunable bongos and the Remo
practice pad, Payson made a prototype and sent it to Michael.
named these original drums Timp-Toms. It was later that Remo
Inc. decided to improve upon the design and introduced the
Roto Tom to the market as we know it today.
Generation Chrome Roto Tom - First Generation Quick
A little more discussion on the original
Timp-Tom is in order. Talking with Al, you get a sense of
his humbleness about his life and his invention. The Timp-Toms
changed the course of drumming by adding a new set of easily
tunable drums which later crossed over from the symphonic
world to rock and other aspects of drumming. That is a major
accomplishment when talking about drums!
original drum based off the Ludwig Bongos
(photo above) has what Al referred to as the "Spider"
and the integral component. The concept of rotating a drum
was not new and there was an early timpani that could be tuned
by turning the head with the same principle. Later in life
Al was talking to William F Ludwig II and jokingly they were
talking about the spider. As it turns out Ludwig had a hard
time keeping them in stock because as soon as other percussionists
heard of the Timp-Tom the only way to get them was to make
David Anfuso for RotoTomDrums.com
earliest recordings using the Timp-Toms
- Michael Colgrass Variations for Four Drums and Viola
prize winning composition Deja Vu for four percussion soloists
for Roto Tom Drum Solos
Solos for the Melodic Drummer
- William J. Schinstine - 1980
RotoTom Solos - Harry Marvin, Jr.
use in a motion picture
Cold Blood," the composer
scoring glisses to produce an eerie effect.
Source for some of the information and Payson drawing: James