Ask Abe: Big Bass Drum

Charles S. ’52

What happened to the huge bass drum I used to see with the band?

Abe

Sadly, the big bass drum was too big to be practical: it broke. There have actually been two giant drums in the UW Band’s history. They were both called the Paul Bunyan Drum. The first, which was donated in 1935 by the Appleton (Wisconsin) Elks Lodge, was a fairly durable, working drum, and band members thumped it for many years before it fell apart. The drumhead was still intact, but the drum’s wooden joints couldn’t stand the strain of being continually jostled over uneven surfaces. When the band moved from Music Hall to Humanities in the 1960s, it threw away the drum wreckage. In 1985, the band celebrated its centennial with a second big drum, but that was a weaker article, and it broke apart more rapidly.