Brief history of the drum: what is the origin of the drum?

by Shopify API March 11th, 2018

Old drum

We have already seen the history of the djembe and we know that this is not the oldest drum since the real history of the drum begins in prehistory. So we will explore the origin of this mythical instrument and its evolution over the years in a brief and understandable way.

History tells us that primitive man has its origin in the African region, and it is natural to think that the first drum is also born here, we can imagine the first hominid hitting a stick on some hollow object like a wooden log, a resonant stone or a skull of some animal. Here is the birth of percussion, when we begin to find these beating sounds pleasant.

The man began to spread all over the world and I question myself. Did these nomadic tribes carry musical instruments with them?

Remains of primal drums have been found mainly in Africa and Egypt, but drums of this nature have also been found throughout the world. It seems that each tribe, people and nation had the same conception of a percussion instrument, built more or less with the same characteristics.

The oldest drums found are hollow wood, clay and ceramic with leather patches tied with ropes and fastened with small wooden nails. These drums also had ears or handles to hold them better. The skin used to be random, both goat, beef, even drums that were made of human skin have been found.

The drum was initially considered a sacred instrument that transported you to the world of the dead, to the astral world where you had contact with the ancestors and with God. Although over time it was used for war, for parties and also to accompany heavy work.

The Hebrews, and other surrounding villages, used small drums called toph, from which the adductor or tambourine derived. And the Greeks were accompanied in their songs with the tympanon: a skin stretched over a wide mouth wooden bowl equivalent to a small timbale.

The Greeks they celebrated the rhythm of the parties to honor Dionysus, god of wine. The Romans used this instrument for military marches and to mark the passage, although in the background they had it as a barbarian instrument.

The timpani older were employed by Arabs as a war weapon: they made them sound from afar to announce their arrival, with which they sought to intimidate the enemy and into their bodies fear and distress.

A Europe they arrived brought by the Crusaders and were used here with the trumpet and trumpet contest in fanfare and ceremonies and in the acts of weapons. In the fifteenth century there was no army that did not have a body of drums and timpani; and in the XVII these instruments were incorporated to the baroque orchestras.

There is a great variety of drums in the world, each nation has created their own according to the feeling they want to transmit.

In short, the origin of the drum is African, and goes back to prehistory. The drum arrives in Europe through the migrations of Africans and Moors to Europe. Subsequently, the drum also penetrates the New World, when the conquering armies begin American colonization. When enslaved Africans arrive in America, they explore various sound possibilities, turning almost any object into a drum and a motivation for dancing. In the absence of spaces and materials suitable for building and playing their original drums, they build smaller ones. Drums and dances gradually bleach, that is, adapting to the halls and people, until they get the acceptance they have today in society.


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