Drums are often the very first attempt that children have at making “music” . . . even the smallest of babies can bang the table with a spoon if lunch is a little late, followed by their very first drum kit at the first or second Christmas (usually courtesy of the youngest Uncle in the family who lives well away from the racket). Banging a drum is easy, making music with a set of drums is definitely not.
There are hundreds of different types of drums from all cultures of the world. Many of them are made by stretching a membrane of some sort over a frame before beating them with a stick or the hand. Drum categories include goblet, cylindrical, kettledrums, frame, tongue drums . . . and your average drum kit itself is made up of many different types of drums.
While you browse this page, you may like to listen to a classic drum solo the Iron Butterfly – In A Gadda Da Vida drum solo… just hit play.
Or you can’t possibly talk about drums and drum solos without talking about Buddy Rich . . . below you can watch and listen as Buddy Rich smoothly, competently just blows you away…
Drums in a Drum Set
- Bass Drum – this is the big one on the floor (often adorned with the name of the rock group), it’s big, it’s on the floor and it has a pedal. You bang the drum with your right foot on the pedal . . . get to the beat man!
- Snare Drum – this is the drum which stands alone and is generally right between the legs. The wires beneath the drum are where it gets its name from – they’re called snares. You play the snare drum with either hand, or both hands, depending on the rhythm.
- Hi-Hat – is positioned high and it looks a bit like a hat – usually to the left of the snare drum. It’s really two cymbals which clap together, operated by a foot pedal, or alternatively the drummer may play on top of the closed hi-hat whilst the singer is singing (it helps to keep the noise down a bit, those hi-hats can be mighty noisy you know). Singers don’t generally appreciate the soft parts of their songs being drowned out by a mighty clashing and banging.
- Ride Cymbal – the biggest, thickest cymbal of them all. It’s usually positioned somewhere to the right, can be anything from 18″ to 24″ in diameter and is used for when you want to player LOUDER, you know, when the singer has shut up for a minute or two. This is one method used to create a frenzy in the drum solo – drum roll please!
- Tom Toms – nothing to do with finding your way around the drum set, but they are so good they named them twice. Tom Toms come in many different sizes and depths, as a rule of thumb it’s worth remembering that the bigger the Tom Tom the deeper the tone. Tom Toms are generally arranged with the largest Tom on the far right, working down to the smaller Tom Tom. Then of course, there’s the floor Tom which is a very large Tom Tom standing on legs.
- Crash cymbals – are in all different sizes, weights and thicknesses, they’re the kind of “full stop” of the drum roll, and the occasional crash can be used to give that little extra oomph to a certain part of the music.
Other Types of Drums
- Cylindrical Drums – are cylinder shaped and very often have a drum head at either end. The bass drum of the majority of drum sets (see above) is usually a cylindrical drum. Bongo drums and congo drums are also cylindrical with only one hand and are played using the hands. Bongo drums are a pair of short drums which are connected, one drum being larger than the other (or one smaller than the other, which ever way you look at it), and conga drums can be either in sets of 2 or sets of 4.
- Goblet Drums – are also named for their shape (a bit like a goblet) but do have many different names depending on where they come from. Goblet drums are very popular in Asia, Eastern Europe and North Africa. Their names include the doumbek and tonbak.
- Frame Drums – are usually rounder than they are high, and are circular in shape. They’re made from wood with either a synthetic drumhead or one made from rawhide. This type of drums are the oldest types of drums in existence. There are lots of examples of frame drums, depending upon which part of the world they originate from – Tambourine, Ghaval, Bodhran, Tar and Riq for example.
- Kettledrums – are made from copper or brass (just like old kettles), they’re also known as the Timpani. This type of drum has a pretty deep sound and can actually be tuned. You can get Timpani in 5 different sizes.
- Tongue Drums – these are the drums which are made from hollowed out logs, at least, that’s how they originated. The more modern tongue drums actually look like boxes, although they are still made from wood. The tops of these boxes are cut out creating an opening with several tongues, and when you whack each tongue with a mallet you get a different tone.