- Jayson Kerr Dobney
Percussion instrument with a head made of skin or plastic that acts as the vibrating surface when hit. In the United States, the term “drum” refers primarily to such instruments, but is also used for certain percussion instruments that do not have a skin head, such as the steel drum (part of a steel band).
Drums are the most common type of instrument used by the indigenous peoples of North America, and long predate European contact. The primary types of drums known to have been used by these groups would be considered frame drums, with one or two heads, and the radius of the head is greater than the shell depth. Different sizes of these drums are held in the hand, placed on the ground, or mounted on a stand, and the primary technique is to use beaters to play the drums. (See Native american music .)
The most important European drum that was brought to the United States, the side drum, was used by militaries as a signal instrument and arrived early in the Colonial period. The side drum (so named because it is worn on a sling that hangs to the player’s side) was paired with a fife and was in use throughout Europe by the 16th century. Such drums can be documented in North America by the 1630s....