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date: 23 October 2019


  • James Blades,
  • Janet K. Page,
  • Edmund A. Bowles,
  • Anthony King,
  • Mervyn McLean,
  • Mary Riemer-Weller,
  • Robert Anderson
  •  and James Holland


(Fr. tambour; Ger. Trommel; It. tamburo; Port., Sp. tambor). A Membranophone (or occasionally an Idiophone), usually with a resonating cavity, sounded by percussion (more rarely by friction or plucking). It has been made in many varieties and has been known in almost every age and culture.

Most drums are membranophones composed of a skin or skins (or plastic material) stretched over a frame or body-shell of wood, metal, earthenware or bone. (Certain instruments incorporating ‘drum’ in their names, notably Bronze drum, Slit-drum and plucked drum (see Variable tension chordophone) belong to other classification categories.) Drums are sounded in two ways: percussion, where they are struck with the bare hands or with beaters, or shaken as in the case of rattle drums in India and Tibet; and friction, where the membrane, or a stick or cord in contact with it, is rubbed or the drum is whirled on a cord. Most drums, however, are struck, and may be classified according to the shape of their body-shell as follows: kettledrums, where the body is bowl-shaped; tubular drums, subdivided into those with cylindrical, barrel-shaped, double-conical, hourglass-shaped, conical, spherical or goblet-shaped bodies (the term ‘cylindro-conical’ is used to indicate drums whose sides are parallel for most of their length but taper at one end); and frame drums (...

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