The History Of The Drum

Have you ever wondered where the drum came from? Learn the history of the drum!

The concept of the drum is probably as old as intelligent man. The idea of banging on something to make noise is second nature to us. But when exactly did the drum become an instrument? How old is the concept of the drum as an instrument? Read this article to learn of the history and structure of the drum.

A drum is a membranophone, or an instrument that is played by beating on a stretched membrane. It consists of a body, or a hollowed-out piece, a membrane, or a piece of animal skin or synthetic material placed over the top, tuning pegs, or pegs placed into the sides of the membrane to tighten or release the pressure on the membrane (and affect the sound), and the striking object, usually a stick of some sort. While most people may think that a sound is produced in the body of the drum, sound is actually produced by the membrane and its vibration. Sound can be changed by the amount of tension in the membrane, or by how tightly it is stretched over the body of the drum. The oldest drums were probably hollowed sections of tree trunks, with a piece of animal skin over the top. Gourds are other hollow vegetables and fruits are also prime candidates for early drums. Today, drums can be made of everything from plastic to basic metal, and some even exist in iron, bronze and steel.

Ancient drums have been discovered in almost every part of the world. Drums first appeared, however, in excavation from the Neolithic Era. The oldest recorded drum is from 6000 BC. Mesopotamian ruins contain small cylindrical drums that are as old as 3000 BC. Egyptian tombs have yielded small drums used for ceremonies. Several caves in Peru contain wall markings depicting drums in various aspects of societal life. It is strongly suspected that Indian drums from the Middle East are as old as 5000 BC. The American Indians used a series of wood and gourd drums for their celebrations and music, and some of these drums are still used in ceremonies today.



Drums were not always used for music. In Africa, where music is simply an interpretation of everyday life in sound, drums were used as speech. Simply a pattern of beats played in a certain way could communicate vast amounts of information. Drums are also used for many religious purposes. In certain parts of Africa, drums are venerated, and also given entities and gender. It is not uncommon for the people of these places to refer to drums as male, and give them sacred names. Women in some parts must treat drums with the same respect that they would give the male body, and in some rare historical cases, African women were killed simply for touching these instruments. Therefore, the history of the drum has evolved from one of religious use and interpretation to musical accompaniment and creation.

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