Big Bertha (drum)

Big Bertha (drum)

Big Bertha is a bass drum used by the Longhorn Band of The University of Texas at Austin. The drum is considered by the university to be the world's largest drum. However, at 100 inches (8⅓ feet) in diameter, Rumble, the bass drum for blue thunder of the Seattle Seahawks surpasses Big Bertha in size. [ |url=http://www.seahawks.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=6886 |title=The Seahawks Introduce RUMBLE|accessdate=2008-06-02] The Big Bertha name was chosen to evoke the famous German Big Bertha howitzer.

Description

Big Bertha measures 8 feet (2.44 m) in diameter, 44 inches (1.12 m) in depth, and stands 10 feet (3 m) tall when on its four-wheeled cart. The giant drum weighs more than 500 pounds (230 kg). It is wheeled onto the field for the half time show during varsity football games, and is used in other occasions such as parades and spirit rallies. The drum is managed by the Bertha Crew, sometimes called "drum wranglers," consisting of Brian Gille, Daniel Shiu, Ryan Alter, and James Everett Newman. The crew moves the drum, but the drum is rarely played. Big Bertha is nicknamed the "Sweetheart of the Longhorn Band".

History

In 1922, the University of Chicago commissioned C.G. Conn Instruments to build a big bass drum for the school. Its first use was in the 1922 game versus rival Princeton University. When the University of Chicago ended its varsity football program, the drum was stored under the school stadium. It later became radioactively contaminated as a result of research for the Manhattan Project conducted at the stadium during the 1940s. [ |url=http://www.utexas.edu/friends/fun.php?which=3 |title=Texas Traditions: Big Bertha |accessdate=2007-11-12]

Colonel D. Harold Boyd, a former Longhorn Band member, brought the drum to the university in 1955 after purchasing it from the University of Chicago for $1.00 and paying to have it decontaminated and restored.

In March of 1980 a Kappa Kappa Psi pledge class hand-scraped years of toxic lead paint from the body of the drum and the drum's trailer returning the finish to a high luster. The 6 pledges' names are inscribed on the inner wall of the drum and can only be seen when the drum heads are removed. Fact|date=February 2008

In 2005, the university celebrated the 50th anniversary of Big Bertha.

References

External links

* [http://lhb.music.utexas.edu/history/bertha_index.html The University of Texas Longhorn Band: Big Bertha]
* [http://www.utexas.edu/friends/fun.php?which=3 Texas Traditions: Big Bertha]


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