Types and Common Features of Hand Drums

Hand drums are a very special type of drum. A hand drum is any type of drum that is typically played with bare hands rather than a stick, mallet, or other type of beater. Hand drums are one of the instruments used in many parts of the world. Every culture will have a hand drum that you will likely come across. Hand drums generally have a history.

A distinction is made between hand-held, one-handed drums and two-handed drums that stand on the floor or hang in front of the body. The simplest type of hand drum is the frame drum, which usually consists of a circular frame covered with a drum skin on one side.

Common Features of Hand Drums

Hand drums have been used in musical performances in many different cultures for centuries. They come in different shapes, sizes, and sounds, depending on their culture and region, and are used in a variety of musical genres.

The most important common feature is that, as everyone knows, it can be played with only hands without the need for any objects. Another important feature of hand drums is that they have mystical sounds. On the other hand, hand drums generally represent a tradition in the countries where they are found. And it has a much more special place, especially in regions such as Africa, Asia, and South America. Hand drums are always played at festivities, ceremonies, and, in some regions, when welcoming someone. In addition to hand drums, other musical instruments accompany hand drums. Hand drums may have even been used as a means of communication in the past few years. Due to its simplicity and the use of only hands, loud sounds can be made very easily.

How Does the hand drum work?

In hand drums, the sound is produced by striking the drum's membrane, known as the head or skin. They come in a variety of types and sizes, including hand drums, bongos, congas, djembes, doumbeks, and tambourines, and are widely used in many different musical styles around the world.

Hand drumming is a playing technique but not an instrumental category. In principle, any type of drum can be used as a hand drum. The word "hand drum" is sometimes also used as a synonym for "frame drum" and thus for a hand-held drum, including the stem drum. Some hand drums are loud, allowing them to be heard clearly as a solo instrument over a large percussion ensemble.


Different Types of Hand Drums

The hand drums are distinguished according to their respective shapes. A simple form is the frame drum. Examples of frame drums are the bodhrán from Ireland and the tambourine, which originates from western Asia.

A tambourine is a musical instrument consisting of a frame, usually made of wood or plastic, and pairs of small metal jingles called "bells". With this feature, it has a slightly different structure from other hand drums.

Another type of hand drum is the calico drum. In Europe and other countries, the best-known example is the djembe, a one-sided, coated drum from West Africa.


The djembe, or jembe, originally from West Africa, is a string-tuned, leather-clad goblet drum played with bare hands. According to the Bambara people of Mali, the djembe's name comes from the phrase "Anke djé, anke bé", meaning "all come together in peace" and describing the purpose of the drum.

To the tube drums belong congas and bongos, essentially African-Cuban musical instruments. In Brazilian music, the atabaque is the best-known traditional tuba drum. Since the 1980s in Brazil, the conical eardrum has played an important role.

The Atabaque is a long, wooden Afro-Brazilian hand drum. Traditionally made from Jacaranda wood from Brazil. The head is traditionally made of calfskin. A rope system that wraps around the body attaches a metal loop near the base to the head. Because of this tuning mechanism, the drum is sometimes known as the Atabaque de Corda'. Wooden wedges are clamped between this ring and the body, and a hammer is used to tighten or loosen the ropes and raise or lower the pitch of the drum.


The other one is the darbuka is a percussion instrument utilisé especially in the Middle East and the Balkans. There are two sounds in the darbuka, called dun and single: The first sound provides the basis of the rhythm and is achieved by hitting the middle of the instrument, the second sound is mostly used for decoration and improvisation. Darbuka is also a kind of percussion instrument used in wedding engagement and circumcision weddings.


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