The Different Types of Drum Sets & Percussion Instruments

Different Types of Hand Drums

Are you interested in learning how to play the drums? You might be surprised at all the different types of drums and percussion instruments out there. When taking drum lessons, you can gain valuable experience on a variety of percussion instruments if you’d like. From learning about what instruments make up a drum kit to the various percussive instruments in a marching band, there are so many options when learning to play the drums. While not an exhaustive list by any means, continue reading to learn more about the different types of drum sets and percussion instruments. The more you learn about the world of drums and percussion instruments, the more you can expand your expertise and add some new sounds to your drumming repertoire.

Where Did Drums Originate?

While historians don’t know the exact origins of the drum, there is evidence of drums and percussion instruments going as far back as 3000 BC in China and 1000 BC in Africa. Many early drums were made of gourds and alligator skins and were used for reasons other than creating music. Drums and percussion-like instruments were also used as methods of communication in ancient cultures. Iconography from ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, and Roman cultures detail the use of drums in both cultural gatherings and religious ceremonies. The way drums were played likely evolved at the same time and across various cultures to include both hand drums and drum beaters. Each type of drum, from snare drums to tom-toms to the timpani, has various origin stories that demonstrate how sound and music were used in ancient cultures through today.

How Many Types of Drums Exist?

You might be surprised to learn that there are hundreds of variations on drum instruments. In general, drums are categorized into six major groups:

  • Drum Sets
  • Hand Drums
  • Frame Drums
  • Orchestral Drums
  • Marching Drums
  • African Drums

Continue reading to learn more about the various types of drums in each category.

Different Types of Drum Sets

Different Types of Drum Sets & Percussion Instruments

When you think of the drums, you might picture a drum set on the stage at your favorite musician’s concert. Drum sets typically feature a combination of drums and percussion instruments that you learn to play while seated. Acoustic drum sets can include the snare drum, bass drum, floor tom, and rack tom. A drum set will include equipment like pedals and other percussion instruments like cymbals and tambourines. Electronic drum sets offer a wide array of percussion sounds and capabilities, sometimes incorporating interactive software and apps.

Different Types of Hand Drums

Hand drums developed all over the world and across various cultures with distinctive patterns and techniques for playing. Congas are tall drums that originated in Cuba and come in three different sizes: small (quinto), medium (conga), and large (tumba). Bongos are Afro-Cuban drums of a smaller size and can be played alongside congas. Other hand drums include the table, a set of two small wooden drums that originated in India. Hand drums are typically played with the fingertips, palms, and heels of the hand. The techniques for hand drums vary based on the type of hand drum, cultural influence, and the sounds you are trying to create.

Different Types of Frame Drums

Frame drums come from all over the world and represent a wide variety of drums. A frame drum refers to an instrument where material is stretched over a frame that creates the percussive sound when played. The tambourine is a well-known type of frame drum with built-in jingles called zils along its frame. You can hold, shake, and play the tambourine to create a variety of percussion sounds. Other types of frame drums include the Pandeiro, a Brazilian instrument, the Bodhran with Irish and Celtic roots, and the Giblet Drums from the Middle East.

Different Types of Orchestral Drums

Drums and percussion instruments used in an orchestra typically include the concert bass drum, concert snare drum, concert toms, and timpani. Other percussive instruments used in an orchestra can include mallet instruments, auxiliary percussion, cymbals, and gongs. If you are interested in learning how to play the drums as an orchestral percussionist, you would learn how to play a variety of instruments. Booming bass drum beats and cymbal crashes can help accentuate musical moments during an orchestral piece.

Different Types of Marching Drums

Types of marching drums include the marching snare, multi-tenor, bass drum, and front ensemble. If you are interested in playing drums for the marching band, then you might learn how to play a variety of these instruments until you find the one that best suits you. Marching drums like the snare and bass drum are used to drive the beat, and the multi-tenors and front ensemble help round out these percussion sounds. Additionally, some marching drums can be worn while moving around or played while on a stand.

Different Types of African Drums

African drums include a variety of hand drums and those you play with a mallet. The djembe is a popular hand drum with origins in West Africa with goatskin or synthetic heads. The talking drum is another African drum that is typically held under the arm and features taught ropes that you squeeze while hitting the drum. The udu is a type of African drum from Nigeria with one or two chambers, and the musician uses their fingers and palms to create sounds.

Which Drums Would You Like to Play?

So how do you know what type of drum to play? Start with what looks most interesting to you. When exploring the world of drums and percussion instruments, you want to learn a variety of skills and techniques that will allow you to experience many different instruments. You can take drum lessons to learn how to play a percussion instrument for the first time or invest in drum lessons to continue improving as a member of the orchestra, concert band, or marching band. There are so many different types of drums out there that you can choose from when you learn how to play the drums. Contact Lessons In Your Home today to get your student or child off on the right foot to learning percussion.

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Different Types of Drum Sets & Percussion Instruments