Of Stings and Rimshots

It’s the calling card of the lounge comedian: you make a joke, and the drummer behind you whips out a ba-dum-bump.

For example, “Two drums and a cymbal fall off a cliff…”

[mejsaudio src=”http://soundandthefoley.com/files/2013/04/Sting.mp3″]
(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This little punch-up is known as a sting. Wikipedia describes it thusly:

Stings may take the form of a short roll followed by crash cymbal and kick drum, a flam, or a rimshot.

An example basic sting is shown below, consisting of a tom followed by a kick, a short rest and then kick, snare and choked crash together.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Many folks know this sound as a “rimshot”, but in reality a rimshot is only a component of the sting. A rimshot happens when you hit the head and the rim of a drum simultaneously, producing one sharp beat.

We know more about the rimshot than we know about the sting. Jazz drummer Gene Krupa, who played with the likes of Benny Goodman and Anita O’Day, is generally credited with the creation of the rimshot on the snare drum. The sting seems to have a long history with cabarets and circuses, but I’ve run across very little that would hint at an actual history. (Part of the difficulty comes from the general confusion between the terms sting and rimshot, and the general mess of searching things like “drum sting” on Google. Curse you, Gordon Sumner!) If you have any inkling of where the drum sting might come from, please send us a note!

In the meantime, here’s a clip from Young Frankenstein (1974), where Igor supplies his own sting. (The key bit is at 1:25 in this clip.)

Where else have you heard the drum sting?


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