The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments.
The sound of the drum is produced by the vibration of a stretched membrane – it is thus classified as a membranophone within the larger category of percussion instruments.
Basically, a drum is either a tube or a bowl of wood, metal, or pottery (the “shell”) covered at one or both ends by a membrane (the “head”), which is usually struck by a hand or stick.
Drums are the world’s oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.
Drums appear with wide geographic distribution in archaeological excavations from Neolithic times onward – one excavated in Moravia is dated to 6000 BC.
Giant frame drums were used in the temples of ancient Sumer, and Mesopotamian objects from about 3000 BC depict frame drums and small cylindrical drums played horizontally and vertically.
Early Egyptian artifacts (c. 4000 BC) show a drum with skins stretched by a network of thongs.
A waisted, or hourglass, drum is seen on one of the Bharhut reliefs, the oldest Indian temple reliefs (2nd century BC).
The modern Indian damaru is an hourglass-shaped clapper drum—when it is twisted its heads are struck by the ends of one or two cords attached to the shell.
Barrel and shallow-nailed drums are particularly associated with India and East Asia – notable are the taiko drums of Japan, made in various sizes and with nailed or rope-lashed heads.
Mesopotamian excavations unearthed small cylindrical drums dated 3000 BC.
Several wall markings found in caves in Peru show drums used in various aspects of societal life.
The American Indians used gourd and wooden constructed drums for their rituals and ceremonies.
Little is known about medieval European drums and drumming, the only evidence being pictures and written references; no medieval drums survive.
At the end of the 19th century, the snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, and other percussion instruments were first gathered into a “drum kit” that could be played by one person. The man attributed with starting this evolution is said to be a snare drummer named Dee Dee Chandler. Chandler became popular when he devised a way to play the bass drum by stepping on a pedal with his right foot, while at the same time playing the snare drum. Rhythm sections up to that point were made up of several people,
but with Chandler’s idea, this number could be reduced, which, in the end, was an incredibly important development.
Drums are used to keep a steady beat in a song. For example, to make a song to be slow or fast, the drums play slower or faster.
Drum kits are used in most types of popular music, including rock, jazz, country, blues, and many others.
Drumming may be a purposeful expression of emotion for entertainment, spiritualism and communication. Many cultures practice drumming as a spiritual or religious passage and interpret drummed rhythm similarly to spoken language or prayer.
Drumming has developed over millennia to be a powerful art form. Drumming is commonly viewed as the root of music and is sometimes performed as a kinesthetic dance. As a discipline, drumming
concentrates on training the body to punctuate, convey and interpret musical rhythmic intention to an audience and to the performer.
Macaque monkeys drum objects in a rhythmic way to show social dominance and this has been shown to be processed in a similar way in their brains to vocalizations, suggesting an evolutionary origin to
drumming as part of social communication. Other primates make drumming sounds by chest beating or hand clapping, and rodents such as kangaroo rats also make similar sounds using their paws on the
The most expensive drum kit sold at auction is Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum kit, sold at $2,100,000 (£1,395,370, €1,934,890), including premium, at Julien’s Auctions held in California, USA, on 5 December 2015.
The largest drum measures 5.54 m (18 ft 2 in) in diameter is 5.96 m (19 ft 6 in) tall and weighs 7 tonnes (15,432 lb 5.76 oz) and was created by Yeong Dong-Gun local government and Seuk Je Lee (all South Korea) in Simcheon-Meon, South Korea, on 6 July 2011.
The largest drum set is comprised of 813 pieces, is owned by Dr. Mark Temperato (USA) and was counted in Lakeville, New York, USA, on 21 March 2013.
The longest line of drums is composed of 2,020 drums and was achieved by Haidong Municipal People’s Government (China) in Haidong, Qinghai, China, on 19 February 2019.