Types of Drums Around the World

Types of drums
Drums are among the oldest and the most versatile percussion instruments in the world. This Buzzle write-up discusses the different types of drums around the world.
Did You Know?
The talking drums of South Africa were used for communication, by making sounds according to patterns of spoken language. The beats of these drums resembled speech!

Drums are percussion instruments. Sound is created by hitting their surface. They have a long history, and are believed to have been used since ancient times. Apart from being used as musical instruments, they have been a part of many spiritual and religious ceremonies in different cultures around the world. They were even used in the military to make announcements or call out orders.

Many different types of drums are found all over the world. What differentiates them from one another, is the sound they make, the way they are played, the material used in making them, and their significance. While some are played in a group, others are played individually. Drum kits, or two or more drums played together are also quite popular.

This Buzzle article takes you on a musical ride by introducing you to the different types of drums, their construction, the way they are played, and their historical and cultural significance.

Basic Types

Frame Drum
It's a shallow drum with a wide head.

Kettle Drum
It is a bowl-shaped drum.

Hand Drum
It is played with hands.

Goblet Drum
It is narrow at the base, and widens at the top.

Talking Drum
A talking drum is used to communicate, as its sound is said to resemble speech.

Box Drum
It is a cube-shaped drum.


Drums Around The World

Ashiko

ashiko
Made from hardwood and goatskin hide, Ashiko is a tapered cylinder-shaped drum.

It has its origins in the Yoruba culture, and is traditionally found in West Africa.

The traditional ones were handcrafted from a single piece of wood and used in many ceremonies and celebrations.


Bendir

bendir
Bendir is a type of frame drum. They are among the oldest and the most commonly used drums.

It is a North-African drum, which was also popular in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

It is used in special Sufi ceremonies.

Bendir is quite similar to tambourine, but does not have jingles. It can sometimes have snares.


Bongo

bongo
Bongos are a pair of open-bottomed drums.

The larger drum is called hembra, while the smaller one is called macho.

The origin of bongos can be traced to Cuba.

These drums are played with the hands.


Cajon

cajon
Slaves of the African origin in America can be credited with the origin of the Cajon drums.

It is basically a plywood box, with a hole at the back.

It is played by slapping the front or rear faces with hands, sticks, or brushes.

Cajon drums are very popular today, especially in the Americas and Spain.


Caixa

caixa
Caixa de guerra is a Latin-American snare drum.

It is made from wood, metal, or acrylic.

It is a very popular drum, used in bands, parades, and rock concerts.


Congas

congas
The most important instrument in rumba, conga is a South American drum.

It is usually played in sets of two to four. Conga can be played while seated. It is mounted on a rack to play while standing.

Congas are called tumbadoras in Cuba.


Damaru

damaru
Damaru is a small, two-sided drum, which has a lot of significance in Hinduism and Buddhism.

It is the instrument of Lord Shiva and its music is considered to be spiritually powerful.

It is usually made of wood or leather, but can be made out of skulls as well.

It is believed that Sanskrit language originates from the beats of the damaru.


Darbuka

darbuka
Darbuka is a goblet drum of Eastern and North-African origins.

First mentions of this drum can be found as early as 1100 BCE.

It can be played by holding it under the arm or sliding it over the shoulder.

Many different rhythms of Middle Eastern music have been developed using a darbuka.


Dhol

dhol
Dhol is a very popular type of drum in India, and the Indian subcontinent.

It is a double-sided drum used in regional and folk music.

Many variations can be seen in the sizes of dhols in different parts of India. The most popular one is the Punjabi dhol played in bhangra music.


Djembe

djembe
Djembe is a goblet drum made from hardwood and its head is made from goatskin.

It is one of the most versatile drums, as it can produce a variety of sounds.

Origins of the djembe drum can be traced to West Africa.

A unique feature of djembe is that it is very loud for its small size.


Djun-djun

djun-djun
Popularly known as dunun, they are a group of West African drums.

Djun-djun is usually paired with djembe or other African drums.

It has cow or goat's skin at both the ends.

It is played using a straight or curved stick.


Doumbek

doumbek
It is a very popular goblet drum from Middle East.

It is kept under the arm and played with fingers or sticks.

It can produce a wide variety of sounds.

It is used in many styles of music including Western music.


Mridangam

mridangam
Mridangam is of Indian origin and very important in Carnatic music.

Early mridangams were made from clay.

It has been portrayed as the instrument of Lord Ganesha.

It is hollow from inside and made from the wood of jackfruit tree.


Naal

naal
Also known as dholak, it is a South Asian drum.

It is a two-sided drum, popular in folk music.

It is popular in kirtan, lavani, and bhangra.

It is usually slung over the shoulder, and played with the hands.


Nagada

nagada
Nagada are kettle drums played with sticks.

They are often played in pairs.

One nagada produces low pitches, while the other produces loud ones.

They are very popular in India.


Pandeiro

pandeiro
Pandeiro is a Brazilian frame drum.

It is played with the hands. Thumbs and different fingers are used in patterns to create different sounds.

It is prominently used in Brazilian music forms like samba and capoeira.

Its sound resembles the loud sound of jingles.


Pow-wow

pow wow
Pow-wow is a traditional Native American drum.

It is played when people gather to celebrate festivals.

The drum is considered very sacred.

Thus, the etiquette when playing it, is very important.


Repinique

repinique
It is a two-headed Brazilian drum made of metal.

It is very popular in samba, but also used in American classical music.

It is tuned very high, and more often than not, is the lead instrument.

It is played with a wooden stick and one hand.


Riq

riq
Riq is a traditional musical instrument used in Arabic music.

It is similar to a tambourine.

Its frame is made from wood, whereas the head is made from fish or goat skin.

Riq can be played by shaking it on top of the head, vertically or even horizontally.


Surdo

surdo
Surdo is a bass drum of Brazilian origin.

They are usually made from galvanized steel or aluminum.

The drum head is made from goatskin or plastic.

They are used extensively in samba bands.


Tabla

tabla
Tabla was invented in India, and its origins can be traced back to 200 B.C.

The right-hand drum is called tabla whereas the left one is called dagga.

It is popularly played in Indian folk music and Hindustani Classical music.

It is played with the hands and different techniques are used to create a variety of sounds.


Tabor

tabor
Tabor is a small, portable drum used in marching or parades.

It is a type of snare drum, and has a cylindrical wooden shell.

Interestingly, larger the tabor, lower is the pitch.

It is played with a single stick.


Tambourine

tambourine
Origins of a tambourine can be traced to Greece, Rome, India, and Middle East.

Its frame is made of wood or plastic and has little jingles around it.

It is an instrument used in different forms of music like Greek, Persian, and even pop and rock.

It can be played in multiple ways like shaking, stroking, or striking with the hands or sticks.

Tar

tar
Tar is a frame drum originating from Middle East and North Africa.

Native Americans use tar in many traditional celebrations and ceremonies.

Depictions of these drums from thousands of years ago, have been found.


Tupan

tupan
Also known as davul, tapan, douli, or dohol, tupan is very popular in folk as well as modern music.

It is made using hardwood, and the drum head is made from goatskin, sheepskin, or donkey skin.

It is played with the hands or a wooden stick.


Batá

Batá is a Nigerian drum.

It has an hourglass shape with one cone larger than the other.

It was once used to convey messages and was considered as a drum of gods and kings as well.


Bedug

It is an Indonesian drum.

It is very popular among the Java Muslims.

It is played during prayers and Islamic festivals.


Bodhrán

It is an Irish frame drum that evolved from the tambourine. It is very popular in the Mediterranean region and played in Arabic music.

It has goatskin on one head, whereas the other side is open.

Crowdy crawn, a Cornish drum is similar to a bodhrán.


Bougarabou

It is a West African, goblet-shaped drum, usually played in sets of three or four.

It is played with the hands. The player wears metal bracelets, which make additional sounds.


Candombe drums

Candombe drums come from Uruguay.

They are an integral part of Candombe music.

The drums come in three sizes, and are called chico, repique, and piano.


Chenda

Chenda is a cylindrical wooden drum from Kerala, India.

It is also popular in Karnataka, and called chande in some parts.

It has a loud and rigid sound.


Damphu

Damphu is a very rare Nepali drum.

It is a very popular musical instrument of the Tamang community.

It is an integral part of their traditions, and is played during marriage ceremonies, and other rituals and festivals.


Dayereh

Dayereh is a frame drum, which has jingles.

Also, called doyra, dojra, dajre, doira, or dajreja, it is a simple drum with a wooden frame and goatskin head.

It is used in classical music in Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan.


Dhak

Dhak is a Bengali drum. It is an integral part of the Durga puja in West Bengal, India.

It is suspended from the neck, and played with two thin sticks.


Dhimay

It is a double-sided drum made of wood or metal. The heads are made of goatskin.

The left side is played with the hand, whereas the right one is played with a cane stick.

It produces a very deep sound.


Dong Son Drums

They are bronze drums from Vietnam.

They usually have geometric patterns, scenes from day-to-day life, animals, birds, and boats.

They are played during weddings and festivals.


Karyenda

Karyenda is a traditional African drum.

It is considered sacred, and was the symbol on the national flag of Burundi.

It is played during major events, royal announcements, weddings, and funerals.


Kpanlogo

It is West African drum, played with djembe and dundun.

It is an integral part of the kpanlogo music and dance forms.


Lambeg Drum

It is an Irish drum, popularly played during street parades.

It is one of the loudest musical instruments in the world.

It is played with malacca canes.


Steel Drums

Steel drums or steelpans are made from metal sheets.

These drums originate from Trinidad and Tobago, and are played with sticks.

Traditionally, they were built with used oil barrels.


Timpani

Timpani or kettle drums are bowl-shaped drums, played with specialized timpani sticks.

The bowl is made of copper, and has skin stretched over it.

Timpani is very popular in marching and rock bands. Earlier, it was used as a ceremonial drum.


Tom-tom

Tom-tom is a cylindrical drum, which is part of a drum kit.

It does not have any snares.

Many variations of tom-tom like single-headed tom-toms, gong bass, floor toms, and rototoms are also found.


Thavil

Thavil is a South Indian drum popularly used in Carnatic and folk music.

It is a cylindrical drum made from jackfruit wood. It has water buffalo skin on the right head and goatskin on the left.

It is played with slim sticks.


Timbales

Timbales, also called pailas, are drums with a metal casing.

These small and shallow drums can produce a variety of strokes.

This makes them very popular in rumba and samba music.

This was about the different types of drums around the world. Commonly used as accompaniments in music, some of them have earned the status of lead instruments. They are a part of most cultures, are played for entertainment purposes as well as for religious reasons, and are also being used in music therapy.
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