Toms originated with small Chinese drums that came with the migrants to the United States. They are stave drums mounted with nailed pig skins. They are decorated with paintings of dragons, snakes or other animals with a phantasmagorical character. They are sometimes complemented by a series of temple blocks, also Chinese, often tuned in pentatonic mode, such as those over Chick Webb's drums.
Other drums, initially called tom-toms, are gradually being added to the set. Sometimes called darboukas or tams-tams - although they are not - these drums are made of a tension adjustable drumhead and a nailed resonance head. They are attached by clamps to the bass drum hoops.
In 1936, the drummer Gene Krupa, a real star of the swing period with very demonstrative solos, solicited the Slingerland brand, of which he was a regular artist, to produce the large diameter bass tom with tunable drumheads in strike and resonance. It still rests on a basket-shaped tripod.
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