since it was first presented in 1921 by Purdue Bands Director
Paul Spotts Emrick, the Big Bass Drum has added its unique
voice to the instruments of the "All-American"
Marching Band - serving as a reassuring constant throughout
the Band's history. The drum strikes the beat of the music,
serving as the heart of the band and keeping all the other
elements in line and in time.
more than 10 feet high when mounted on its field carriage,
the "monster" measures about eight feet in diameter and
is nearly four feet wide between its two heads. The drum
is still the original instrument built by Leedy Corporation
of Indianapolis in 1921.
first drums sported heads made from mammoth steer hides
imported from South America, but now Remo Corporation produces
synthetic drum heads which are changed as needed. Over the
years it has become a tradition for celebrities to sign
drum heads and old heads filled with signatures are kept
in the Bands Department. Among the many notables are astronauts
Gus Grissom and Neil Armstrong, and former president Harry Truman.
drum is handled by a crew of four silver-helmeted bandsmen,
who are selected for their strength and agility, along with
two beaters. They painstakingly rehearse every movement
of the "Monster" drum to assure its being in the
right place at the right time in accordance with the split-second
timing necessary for the fast-paced shows presented by the