Photographs by Terry


When someone mentions a percussion instrument what is the first image that pops into your mind?  For me, it is the biggest, shiniest drum kit surrounded by ten cymbals.  Percussion instruments are defined as a musical instrument in which the sound is produced by one object striking another.  If this is true, then your clapping hands, a piano and virtually any two things striking each other could be considered a percussion instrument.  Stomp and The Blue Man Group are two perfect examples of utilizing various objects striking each other to make music.

A brief history lesson: drums have been used for thousands of years for communication, rituals, religious ceremonies, and various other aspects of social life.  Though out the ages, the beat of drums have motivated soldiers on and off the battle field. 

I was born at the beginning of the golden age of rock and roll of the 1950’s.  Bill Haley and the Comets, Elvis Presley, and Bobby Darin were just starting their careers.  Then came the 1960’s which brought us bands like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and Cream.  The 1970’s and the 1980’s rock and roll music, the drums seemed to take on a new role in music.  Instead of just keeping a beat, an extended drum solo became popular. 


My love for music was developed at a very early age and influenced by my older brother who played the drums for a high school rock band.  He introduced me to the Surfaris song, Wipe Out.  A few years later, I began to play the drums and tried to emulate drummers like Buddy Rich (Jazz), Gene Krupa (Jazz Big Band), Ringo Starr (Rock), Iron Butterfly’s drummer, Ron Bushy’s and his two and a half minute drum solo during In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.  

During my teenage years, I gave up playing the drums for fast cars, an interest for art and my mother’s sanity.  Initially, my art interest was drawing famous people as cartoon characters.  A few years later my art interest shifted after receiving a camera as a gift.  Soon after becoming a police officer, my department learned of my photography abilities.  For almost 35 years, I photographed countless crime scenes, vehicle collisions, post-mortem examinations and various forms of evidence.  After retiring, I decided to pursue my art aspirations and with some encouragement I returned to college.         

Today, more than ever, I still love music and I am still fascinated at the sounds of a percussion instrument.  When I hear the sounds of a drum, I will stop what I am doing and listen to a marching band drum line or someone on a street corner pounding on plastic five gallon buckets.  I feel drums are the backbone of all music and play an important role not just to music but also various cultures everyday life.  With this body of work I provided a somewhat abstract view of a group of instruments that I obviously still have a passion for.

The images of this body of work are Archival Pigment Prints on Canson Infinity Baryta paper printed on  an Epson 4900 with UltraChrome HDR inks.  

Terry Johnson
2017, Tucson, Arizona