Drums are a universal musical instrument. No matter if it is the “talking drums” of West Africa or the sophisticate percussion section of a symphony orchestra, drums provide and direct the basic beat and the other instruments follow along.

What is the history of the drum?

Exactly how a membranophone animal skin scraped of its hair and stretched over a hollowed out piece of wood evolved into modern electric drum sets that includes sticks, cymbals, and bass is a Ph.D thesis in the making.

Drums were the first musical instrument used by humans and they have had numerous uses throughout the ages. More importantly, however, is that they have gone electrical and don’t show any signs of losing popularity. If anything, drums are on the rise, particularly because the volume on the electric ones can be controlled so as not to get the up-and-coming drummer evicted.

At one time, drums were often relegated to the garage in the hopes that the neighbours wouldn’t complain. Electric drums and headphones, however, solved the volume problem.

How do you get the right set of drums?

Finding the right drum set is like searching for the perfect handbag or the ideal toothbrush. Research first, and try this website.

As with any purchase, people want to get the best set of drums they can afford. Other considerations include that age of the performer, the skill level, and how much space is available.

A basic drum kit consists of a drum head, a drum shell, rod washers, tensions rods, mounting lugs, and rims. Add cymbals and bells, and the kit is complete. Drum kits can also be personalized to reflect a certain style or make a statement about personal choice.

Beginners to intermediate level drummers might want to consider the Yamaha DTX400K 10-inch drum kit, which has eight-pieces and includes everything you really need. Another option is the ddrum DD1, which comes with earbuds, drum sticks and cables.

For those who want to go professional, take a look at the Alesis DM10X Six-Piece Drum Kit. This model is designed with the serious drummer in mind. It is sturdy, will stand up to the intensity of live performances, and has a great rage of sounds.

If money is not a problem, think about going for the high-end Yamaha’s Maple Custom Absolute series. A status symbol statement, to be sure.

Where were drums first used?

The theory is that drums were first developed in China for ceremonies and religious rituals. Their origin dates back to about 5500 BC.

One early use of drums was to send messages. In West Africa, for example, the drums duplicated the sound of the Hausa language and could be sent to the next village and then passed on by the drummer there to the next settlement. That way everyone in the area knew who just gave birth, got married or died.

Drums also played an important role in the development of the military. Some people associate drums with war as the ta-da, ta-da, ta-da-da-da-da-dah beat was played to inspire soldiers to attack. The sound of the drums also helped generate an “we are all in this together” camaraderie.

Up until the 1800, soldiers were assigned a drum or a set of cymbals. When there were was a shortage of drummers, the percussionists had to do double duty.

How did drums evolve?

In 1906, William F Ludwig Sr. and his uncle, Theobald started the drum company which carried their name.  They decided to add a foot pedal so that drummers could play multiple instruments.

What is now known as the basic drum set evolved to another level: a snare drum and cymbals that were stand-mounted. This meant the drummer could sit at the bass drum and still readily play the other two for a versatile performance. In the 1920 a foot pedal was added to the cymbals. Tom-tom drums and “trap kits” – boxes to hold whistles, horns and other noise-making instruments – were new developments at that time.

When drummers packed up their kits and took to the road, the animal skin on the drums didn’t hold up well to travelling. Plastics or polyester – such as Mylar or polyester – have generally replaced hides. These synthetic fabrics are more resistant to light, heat, and high moisture levels.

Why are drummer role models important?

Like sports, politic, and the arts there are people who “make it” and set an example for younger people to follow.

Drummers who have left their sounds on the drum history of the world include greats such as Neil Peart, John Boman, Keith Moon, Buddy Rich, and Ringo Star.

Women have proven they can bang the skins just as well as their male counterparts. Bands like the Velvet Underground, The Go-Go’s, and White Stripes featured female drummers.  Female drummers who “broke the skin ceiling” include Sheila E. Maureen Tucker, and the later Karen Carpenter.

Given the wide range of drum kits, indulge your passion for the primeval sound and play to your heart’s content.