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17 Facts About Drums that you Should know

If you are a drum enthusiast, you may only know how are drums played. But did you know there could be so many facts about drums that you don’t know?

Well, in this article I will be talking about 17 facts about drums type you probably didn’t know about.

Continue reading.

Who invented the drums?

Old Drum
Old Drum

Drums have been with us for more than a millennium. It has been part of society through civilization with traditional and the styles emerging from different world cultures.

There are records of them from as early as 5500 BC. They have been found in China, where they were used majorly for religious purposes.

In traditional society, they were played mostly using hands, and there is no evidence that they were played with drumsticks.

So here are some interesting facts about how they were invented.

Fact #1. The drumstick dates back to the 1300s

The first evidence of them being played culturally using sticks is from the 1300s. They were used to hit them called ‘tabor’ which were like a snare drum.

The facts are In the 17th and 18th centuries, military matches became the signature for using them. This is where the modern style originates from.

Fact #2: Deep drum was very popular in ancient times

Deep instruments are new in the world. They date to the ancient times where they were seen as deep they are. But the modern bass drum was hit using sticks and was brought to Europe in the 1400s.

It soon became a standard in many folkloric traditions of Europe. By 1840, people would start experimenting with foot pedals to help them play more than one instrument.

But they were not mass-produced until 75 years later. A new invention for playing them called the “overhang pedal” came out in the 1870s.

Businesses began to improve their pedal systems creating a new era of drummers.

In 1909, William F. Ludwig and his brother, Theobald, started the Ludwig & Ludwig Co. They created the first commercially sold bass drum pedal that was successful.

Even the two brothers parted ways in the 1930s; the Ludwig company would continue being heard.

Fact #3 The modern snare came in the early 1900s

they like the Tabor was famous in the renaissance period throughout Europe and were used as a snare type.   

However, modern snare emerged in the early 1900s in WWI. The use of coiled wire (metal) was included with the snare giving it a rattle and snap known today. Also, a throw off switch was added and could change the snare drum’s sound to seem like one of the tom-toms.

Drummers often played the basic snare figures and grooves with brushes that could be played using a stick. Matching band-style military bass drums with numerous percussion items around them was a popular style.

Fact #4: The cymbals were played using the hand before the modern hi-hat

The modern hi-hat gave rise to a new way of playing cymbals, from the hand-style by the percussionist. Thanks to Ludwig’s brother, the first low-mounted hi-hat called low-boys became the foundation for better things.  

Through his observation, Ludwig discovers that Baby Dodd’s tapped his foot, and he requested they be raised a bit into what we know today.

Fact #5: The modern drum set grew with individualization

It was the individualism era that created more popularity for the type of drum kit. It came up in the 1930s when people started combining traditional to play them together.

A major setback to the period’s performance was budget constraints, and issues of space in theater orchestras made band leaders force fewer percussionists to take on more parts.

Then, strands that could support Chinese tom-toms, snare drums, and cymbals were created. Other parts were added on top of these gadgets.

The instruments were later called ‘trap sets,’ majorly because the instruments were played before by various percussionists separately. It meant different people were to be employed to play different instruments.

A trap set meant different percussive instruments that were set up for a single player.

This is where the popularization of the drum set began. Some of the great jazz players of the 1930s and 40s helped seal these instruments

Great band of all time like Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich becomes fundamental in the creation of a standard drum kit.

How old is the drum?

Playing Drum
Playing Drum

Fact #6: Drums are one of the oldest musical instruments in the world

It is not easy to tell exactly how old these oldest musical instruments. But they are said to date back to 5500-2350 BC. These instruments were found in China, and they were made from Alligator skin.

The modern drum set is not very old. Looking at the list of some of the best band of all time, their stories began from the 1940s onwards.

Fact #7: The earliest are known to man were known as Alligator Drum kit

This is because the instrument was made from clay and alligator hides bound together. It is assumed to have come from Neolithic China.

Historian, this instrument had markings that revealed shamanistic characteristics. This is why it is believed they were used for ritual ceremonies during 5500BC and the years that followed.

Fact #8: War drums

They were not only used for religious rituals. Evidence shows that one of the main reasons for beating them in earlier societies was for war. There was no access to modern means of communication; hence they became the main tool of communication. The military played the snare with coded messages to soldiers.

This mode of communication has had a huge impact on different parts of the world. They were used to send messages over the long distance between villages in Africa and India.

What is the history of drums?

The History Of Drums
The History Of Drums

Fact #9: Drums are as old as human civilization

When people started building things, they needed a way to keep up with their growing needs. This where the thing with alligator skin comes from. It dates back between 5500 to 2350BC.

The bronze Don Son drum was made by Bronze Age Dong Son Culture from northern Vietnam. The list has the Ngoc Lu Drum.

Fact #10: animal drumming motivated human drums

Macaque monkeys are known for their objects in a rhythmic way to show dominance over a social group. This has been seen in the same way brains to vocals works.

dr mark temperato suggests that evolutionary origin to them can be linked to a means of communication. There are many other primates who make them sounds with their chest to scare the competition.

What makes drums unique today?

Version 2
Version 2

They have so many stories in them than just producing sounds. Here are a few things you may want to know too.

Fact #11: Talking drums

In many African societies, the drummer was so skilled with the instrument that they could mimic patterns of speech using drum set rhythms. This was useful in sending long-distance messages to other tribesmen who would be far.

This skill would need to send messages from as far as Ghana to South Africa.

Fact #12: You can play world-class drums with only one arm

Yes! You heard it right. Ric Allen of the Def Leppard fame joined the popular band when he was only 14. But he lost his arm along the way. But that never stopped him from drumming as he would continue practicing his instrument with different arrangements – the use of an extra foot pedal from the components he would play with the other arm.

His disability has never been a huddle in his whole career. He even came number 7 in the Gigwise’s list of The Greatest Drummer of all time.

Fact #13: Drums have not changed much over the millennia

They have remained the same over since they were discovered. A skin or a membrane stretched tightly over a hollow container.

Today, there are many types of them, including electronic sets, that make it possible to alter the sound. But they are basically the same idea as the traditional one.  

There is evidence that prehistoric ancestors use them to chase away predators, among other things. Today, they are also used for entertainment and to mark special events, like in Africa’s traditional societies.

Fact #14: The world’s biggest drum is longer than the height of a human being

This is not an exaggeration; the world’s largest drum is so big you can easily mistake it for a beautifully colored cylindrical room.  

The largest drum kits are designed to produce beautiful sounds and offer amazing beats. It is called the CheonGo drum in traditional Korean.

It comes with an incredible amount of 7 tonnes and measures 5.54 meters in diameter in terms of weight.

And then there is the world’s tallest drum too that was unveiled a few years ago in the Nigerian Drum Festival. This festival seeks to feature and empower the rich African heritage.

An 18-feet high drum was unveiled at this festival. It is claimed to be the tallest in the world, and it is a spectacular thing.

Fact #15: Drumming and music is from the heart

This may come as a surprise to many, but did you know that our hearts will, fairly fast, align themselves with drum beats? It will speed or slow down a little, depending on the tempo.

Sometimes, if you feel sluggish and dull, playing some fast-paced music can get you back on the right track. And if you are agitated and anxious, it is recommended that you list too slow music. This will calm and restore you to a slower heartbeat.

Fact #16: Drumming can be a great workout

If you are looking to burn a lot of calories while having fun, drumming can be a great way to get there. This is true, especially for hard-hitting drummers. You will be surprised at just how much you can get from drumming.

In a recent study by Chichester University, the heart rates from a sample of drummers were measured, and they found out that a big drumming session could bring them to a near-max recommended heart level. It is the same level that comes with high-intensity exercises.

How many types of drums are there?

Types Of Drums
Types Of Drums

Fact #17: There are more than 20 types of drums

They have been around for a very long time. They have served different purposes in communities, which makes the differences.

There are more than 20 types of drum sets categorized into:

  • Drum sets (virtual, drum kits, etc.)
  • Hand one (Tabla, Congas, Bongos, etc.
  • Frame drum (Pandeiro, Bodhran, etc.)
  • African electric drums (Djembe, talking, Udu, etc.)
  • Matching band ones.

These drum sets are defined by the different roles they play. Most importantly, they pass messages.


Drumming is fun, but there are other facts about then that create even more interest. The 17 facts about them mentioned above are only a few among many.

In a world where technology has taken many roots, you will be surprised at how much you are yet to discover with electronic ones are taking over.

What do you think?

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Written by Andrea

Andrea is a music lover and an experienced drummer with more than 15 years of drumming with different bands and music projects, such as Seditius and Hermano & the Marines.

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