Music has played a crucial role through out time and has evolved by entrusting us with different styles of music. Drums are also termed as percussion instruments that play a rhythmic role in nearly every genre of music, spanning centuries and continents.

When Were Drums Invented?

The usage of percussion instruments have been dated back to 5500BC, where artifacts from China suggest that the drums were made with alligator skins, and iconography from ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cultures show that drums were used in religious ceremonies and cultural gatherings. Data suggests that both hand drums and drums played with beaters evolved simultaneously.

Who Invented the Drum?

There isn’t just one inventor of drums, historians have highlighted that, like most musical instruments, different drums slowly evolved over centuries of innovation, which also stands true for drumbeaters, such as drumsticks and felted mallets.

A Brief History of Drums Around the World

The concept of drums has been there for ages and can be dated back to the early settlers throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Drums and cymbals—the basis of the modern drum set—are visible in bas-reliefs of ancient Greece and Syria, in relief sculpture from ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian society, and in artifacts of Neolithic China. All throughout the globe, humans found ways to fashion drum heads from animal skins.

Origins of percussion instruments: Among the earliest known examples of percussion instruments are idiophones made from mammoth bones found in present-day Belgium. These instruments are thought to date from 70,000 B.C. and are idiophones, which means they produce sound via the vibration of the entire instrument.

Origins of the frame drum: The kinds of drums used by today’s drummers have precursors in the musical instruments of ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. These cultures used frame drums—drumheads stretched over a shallow wooden frame—that were the forebears of twentieth century snare drums and tom-toms. Once those drums were built, idiomatic drumming techniques and drum sounds emerged within each culture.

Origins of classical drums: The drum history of Europe traces its roots to early Middle Eastern traditions. The kettledrums of European classical music likely came from Egyptian and Turkish cultures. The classical bass drum also has its roots in the Ottoman Empire.

Origins of the drum kit: The five-piece drum kit that helped shape American jazz and rock music contains drums adapted from European classical instruments. The kick drums and double bass drums of today’s popular music come from classical bass drums. The snare drums used by rock, pop, and jazz drummers alike come from the side drums of marching bands.

Origins of the modern five-piece drum kit: The modern drum kit as we know it likely traces to early twentieth century New Orleans, where jazz drummers like Warren “Baby” Dodds assembled a drum set using classical instruments. Some of these instruments had to be modified, such as the bass drum: In classical music the drummer plays it with handheld mallets, but in popular music the drum rests on the floor and the drummer plays it with a bass drum pedal. The foot pedal, as we know it is credited to a single inventor—William F. Ludwig of the Ludwig Drums Company.

August 3, 2022
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Category: Drums

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