Drumming exists in almost every culture around the world.
In addition to being fun and musical, drumming also has sacred, ceremonial, communication, and symbolic purposes. It’s an incredible instrument played by so many for so many different reasons.
Read on to learn about the history of drums and how drumming developed to the present day.
The History of Drums
Drums have been around for centuries. They have come a long way, but unlike other musical instruments, they haven’t changed all that much on their journey through time.
The First Drums
Drums are one of the most primitive instruments. In their simplest form, drums are simply an object that is beaten in rhythm with either another object or the hands. Most historians believe that people played the first drums for communication and ceremonial purposes.
The oldest drums found by archeologists were not actual drums, but drawings of drums both in China and in Mesopotamia from thousands of years B.C. The drums portrayed were recognizable as instruments.
The earliest drums were simple frame drums; they were created by a skin drawn and secured over a frame. In most cultures worldwide, they were primarily played by women.
In about 600 B.C., military forces began to use drums. Soldiers from several parts of the world soon discovered that they were an excellent way to communicate with large groups of people, as well as setting a beat for marching and motivation.
The Recent Past
For centuries, drums continued on in this way—they were used worldwide for war, religion, and communication. Marching bands, in which different people played different components of what we now consider a drum set, were common.
It wasn’t until the second half of the 1800s that musicians began to combine these components into a single instrument played by one individual.
In the early 1900s, William F. Ludwig developed the foot pedal for the bass drum and this revolutionized the instrument. Suddenly, the drummer had his hands free to play other drums simultaneously. The development of the hi-hat cymbal soon followed.
Jazz drummer Gene Krupa is considered the father of the modern drum set and is a major player in the history of drums. Inspired by the development of the new foot pedal technology, he put together a set that includes a bass drum, snare drum, two toms, a hi-hat, and three cymbals. Krupa was a very talented and energetic player, and because of that, his set up took off fast.
Today, drums are recognized in the history of almost every culture in the world, and many people are drawn to the drums and drumming styles of their ancestors.
The modern drum kit is a staple in any rock and roll band. Depending on the drummer and his or her needs and wants, some drum kits grow far, far beyond the now simple one introduced by Gene Krupa.
Drums will continue to grow and change as we move forward as a society, but at the same time, they will always stay basic and primal. The history of drums is not over yet–it will be interesting to wait and see what drummers come up with next.
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