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The drum is a percussion instrument in the percussion group. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, the drum is a membranophone. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell, struck, either directly with the player’s hands, or with a percussion mallet, to produce sound.

There is usually at least one more drumhead on each side of the drum, tuned to a different pitch. The shells of the drums can be made of a variety of materials, including wood, plastic and metals with alloys, each material producing a different sound.

A resonance head is under the drum and it’s normally tuned to a slightly lower pitch than the top drumhead. Other techniques have been used to cause drums to make sound, like thumb rolls. Drums are the world’s oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.

You’ll need to use two to three drums to form a drum kit. There’s a variety of different types of drums you can use, including bongo drums, djembe drums, timpani drums, and percussion in general. You can play with multiple percussionists, too, like djembe festivals do.


Drums are traditionally played using sticks, but many drummers now use brushes instead. They come in all different types, sizes and materials. In jazz, some drummers use brushes for a smoother, quieter sound.

It’s common for traditional cultures to use drums for different reasons. Hand drums are often used in music therapy, because of their tactile nature and ease of use by people of all ages.

In popular music and jazz, the term “drums” usually refers to a drum kit or a set of drums. The term “drummer” usually refers to the person who plays them.

Drummers have been considered to have some sort of divinity throughout history, as can be seen by the many drum-related religions throughout the world. In some places the karyenda was used to represent the power of the king.

Newer Forms

These days, drums have taken more modern variations, most notably, you’ll find that electronic drum sets have become very popular due to their versatility, with brands such as Yamaha and Roland having several models.

Sakari Oramo