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
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 Release
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 them!
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 Donald