Boredom died the day humankind discovered it had a “beat”. Prehistoric pagans hammered on hollow logs in 4/4 rhythm, Chinese temples rang with the tones of sacred stone blocks, and far-flung African tribes communicated with indigenous beats on slit drums.
Throughout history, different forms of this age-old block beating have driven the tempo that makes us all move. It’s a universal toy and tool of the musical world, both subtly sustaining and uniquely accenting a wide variety of music. There are many types of blocks, and in the right hands this priceless percussion can keep a beat like it’s nobody’s business.
In the modern drum kit, blocks are most often mounted on an auxiliary boom attached to a cymbal stand. Latin, gypsy and jazz singers are often seen with handheld wood blocks, adding energy to the rhythm and compelling the crowd to dance. And, down in New Orleans, you can find temple blocks mounted to marching drums to create a particularly multifaceted parade companion.