The ocean drum is a percussion innovation that can create the sound of several instruments in one. The origins of the ocean drum are somewhat mysterious, but the modern American ocean drum is a Remo product. Remo is a longtime industry leader, specializing in the production of drum heads and percussion instruments.
The Ocean Drum
The ocean drum is an innovative piece of percussion equipment comprising a basic frame drum, of any size, with loose pellets inside the head. The drum can be played in four ways: held flat and tilted slightly, creating the sound of the sea as the pellets move within the head and cause it to vibrate; as a shaker, held vertically and shaken like a maraca or rattle; or played as a basic frame drum, either using hands and fingers or a mallet. When played as a frame drum, a tap with the heel of the hand or the mallet on the top of the drum causes the pellets in the bottom to shake, adding depth to the sound.
Remo has been around since just after World War II, when the production of Mylar drumheads intrigued the company's founder, Remo D. Belli. Remo developed innovations in coatings and laminates throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and Remo products became widely used in drum kits from jazz circles to rock-and-roll bands. Remo has now come up with Advanced Acousticon, a "wood-based" shell material with a rich, full sound. The ocean drum is one of their products built with Advanced Acousticon technology.
The Remo Ocean Drum
The Remo ocean drum is a two-headed drum with an Acousticon R shell and two heads. The first head is clear Mylar; on the opposing side is a white or patterned Fiberskyn head, both of which are signature Remo materials. Inside the drum are thousands of round, steel pellets that make the ocean-like sounds for which the drum is named. The drum comes standard in 12-inch, 16-inch, and 22-inch models with a soft mallet, in either white Fiberskyn or a printed fish motif. Remo also offers a line of brightly-colored, smaller children's ocean drums with colored steel beads inside.
Ocean Drum History
Ocean drums have a foggy history. Fair trade, low-tech rain drums are available for purchase online, many from locations in Nepal and India, but there is little to no information available on their cultural history. The ocean drum was introduced to Remo by percussionist Emil Richards, who commissioned Remo to make several for his studio sessions. The drums were subsequently produced as part of Remo's public product line starting in the 1990s, according to Remo's "Help & Support" page. It's thought the original ocean drum hails from Nepal, but whatever its origins, Remo's ocean drum is a versatile musical instrument that's here to stay.
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