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HISTORY OF DRUMS

old drums used in parades ©John T. DeStefano 2001

The concept of drums are as old as mankind. A drum is called a membranophone, or an instrument that creates sound by striking a stretched membrane with some type of object, usually a rounded stick. Drums consist of a hollowed-out piece(called the body), a membrane stretched over the end of the drum, and tuning keys or pegs which tighten or loosen the membrane to achieve different tones. While most may think that the body of the drum produces the sound, it is in fact actually the membrane and its vibration that creates the sound when struck.

Drums first appeared as far back as 6000 BC. 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. Drums have always been used for more than merely creating music. Civil uses, messaging, and religious uses are but a few.

Origins of the Drum Kit

Drum kits, a grouping of various toned drums, originated in marching bands and parade bands in New Orleans. It was found that one drummer could play more than one drum simultaneously. This is known as double drumming. Cymbals and Tom Toms, which were invented in China, were added to drum kits. Percussion additives such as cowbells, wooden blocks, and chimes were incorporated as well. By the 1930's the standard drum kit had taken shape. The Kit consisted of a bass drum and foot pedal, snare, tom toms, hi-hat cymbal, and large hanging cymbals.

old drum set ©John T. DeStefano 2001

In the 1960's rock drummers began the expansion of drum kits that are the norm today. More toms and cymbals, as well as the addition of another bass drum to increase speed were added. Electronic drums were also developed to create sounds that traditional drums were unable to produce. These brought about the synthesized drum sounds used in many modern styles of music.

modern drum set ©John T. DeStefano 2001

What new creations will be incorporated into future drum kits is anyone's guess. They will only be limited by the imaginations and creativity of musicians and manufacturers. The future of drumming should be an interesting one then.

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