History of drum

Origin and development

Drum is an oldest instrument, dated back to Mesopotamia culture in six thousand years BC. Initially, its body was formed by soil, while drumstick was made by grass. Later, it developed into different materials, such as pottery drum, wood drums, bronze drum, or stone drum. Drums in China have different characteristics depending on their areas and materials. There is a saying of "Bronze drum in the south and leather drum in the north." Drum is used in ritual, military, music, dance, and drama, expressing lively atmosphere and stands for unity.

Pottery drum  
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Photo description:
This colored pottery drum was excavated in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province in 1986. It was a late-Neolithic artifact. Now, it is collected in National Museum of China. Its shape is like a funnel with a bell-shaped end and a can-shaped end. One can wear it while performing by tying it with a rope through the two ends. Only one side (the leather side) of it is used for performance. The can-shaped end is used for resonance and balance. Besides its unique shape, it's covered with patterns and lines.
Photo credit:
http://baike.baidu.com/view/8448154.htm
Reference:
http://baike.baidu.com/view/8448154.htm
Wooden drum  
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Photo description:
Wooden drum was not used as a musical instrument at the beginning but for worshiping of good harvest and thriving humans and animals. It is used by the Va nationality to communicate with the sky and stood for the deity of protection. It was considered as the most noble and sacred musical instrument. Usually, wooden drums are stored in a wooden drum room. The female wooden drum is on the left, while the male wooden drum is on the right. The room is equivalent to a temple for the Va nationality.
Photo credit:
http://baike.baidu.com/view/199411.htm

Reference:
http://baike.baidu.com/view/199411.htm

Bronze drum  
Photo:
Photo description:
There was bronze drum since the Shang Dynasty. But it became popular in the Spring and Autumn Period, playing the role of both cooking utensil and musical instrument. In the seventh century BC, it started to be used specifically as a musical instrument. Its decorative patterns were various. Bronze drum stood for the power of the ruler. Later, it was used for ritual, reward, and tribute.
Photo credit:
http://www.56china.com/uploadfile/2009/1010/20091010064858244.jpg
Reference:
http://art.tnnua.edu.tw/ethnomu/room_lo.htm
Stone drum  
Photo:
Photo description:
Stone drums were found in Shaanxi which was the old territory of the Qin State. They were made of granite. Each had a diameter of one meter and weight of about one ton. They are now preserved Stone Venue of Beijing Palace Museum. The characters engraved on the drum bodies are the earliest characters carved on stone. They were engraved in the pre-Qin period in big seal style between inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells of the Shang Dynasty and small seal style, also known as stone drum inscriptions and highly valued by the ages.
Photo credit:
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/石鼓_(先秦)
Reference:
https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/石鼓_(先秦)

  

Types of drums

In addition to the role of a musical instrument, in ancient times, many civilizations used drum to disseminate information, boost morale at war, entertain, and pray for peace. So far, there is a wide range of drums with different characteristics. They are the crystallization of human wisdom and precious culture and art.

Features of drums:

Types of drums
Chinese drum

Classified by regions

北方皮鼓Northern leather drum

Drum is different in northern and southern China. There is a saying of "Bronze drum in the south and leather drum in the north." Leather drum is the most widely spread and common.

Photo credit: Thunder King of Drums

Southern bronze drum

Bronze drum was created by ethnic minorities in ancient China. It is bottomless and hollow. It has bent middle part in an exquisite shape. There are decorations on its surface. So are its upper and middle parts. The decorative patterns are about the life of the ancient, showing their sense of accomplishment of overcoming the nature.

Photo credit: Thunder King of Drums

Classified by names

Jiegu

It's an ancient musical instrument, originated from the Jie nationality in Shanxi Province in northern China in the fourth century. That's why it is called Jie drum. It's made of mulberry wood, shaped like a paint bucket. It stands on a small frame and play with two rosewood drumsticks. It can produce loud sounds.

Photo credit: http://399239.blog44.fc2.com/blog-date-200901.html

Taipinggu

It is also called single drum, used to pray for world peace. That's why it is called peace drum. It has a handle and only one side is used for performance. It's like a fan with iron frame and covered with animal leather. There is a small iron ring attached to the end of the handle. Some drums have the patterns of figure, flower, and grass. One can produce clear and melodious sounds by beating the leather surface and iron frame.

Photo credit: http://www.china.com.cn/travel/2012-06/08/content_25595769_7.htm

Tanggu

In Chinese traditional instrument, there are big and small Tanggu. They are used quite often and mostly red. Big Tanggu is placed on a wooden stand and play with two drumsticks. It produces low and thick sounds. According to size, material, and usage, it can be called in different names and produce different sounds and tones. Small Tanggu is smaller and shorter, with higher and more concentrated sounds.

Photo credit: Thunder King of Drums

 

Huapengu

It's a kind of big Tanggu, also known as Nantanggu. Its surface is big, while its drum bottom is small. It looks like a flower pot. It stands on a wooden frame and beat with drumsticks. Its sounds are low and solid and softer than Tanggu. It can produce different tones.

Photo credit: Thunder King of Drums

Paigu

It's a new type of drum, dated back to the early 1960s. They are made based on the middle Tanggu and Yaogu. Five drums are placed in a row, each producing different sounds. The outer diameters of the two sides of each drum are the same, while their inner diameters are different. Thus, one drum can produce two different tones. In total, they can produce ten tones. Paigu can produce strong sounds. The high tones are energetic, while the medium and low tones are loud and clear. They are best to show lively exultant atmosphere.

Photo credit: http://www.szjho.com/

Bajiaogu

It was an art form popular among Manchu in the Qing Dynasty. It was originally used in comic dialogue. It's small. Its eight edges stood for the "Eight Banners". Its frame is connected by eight ebony. One side is covered with python skin. It has drums cymbals. It's small and compact. One can beat it with fingers to produce clear sounds. Also, it can shake the drum or scrub its surface to produce melodious sounds.

Photo credit: http://www.yuezhiyang.com/qytc/733.html

Yaogu

It's a membranophone instrument for ancient Han nationality. In ancient times, its frame was made by tile or wood. Its two ends are bigger than its waist. One can perform by slapping it with a palm. The frame of modern Yaogu is made of wood. Its two ends are smaller than its waist. One hangs it at the waist for performance with wooden drumsticks. Both ends are covered with leather. There are two rings for rope. It can produce clear sounds.

Photo credit: http://www.dianliwenmi.com/postimg_268042.html

Zhuagu

Zhuagu drum is a folk instrument of Hezhen. The drum frame is wooden, and the shape is oval, with a piece of hide on single side. It is tightened with cruciform or meter-shaped leather lace. On one side of the drum frame, there is a colorful fringe a color as decoration. When the players play the drum, they can hold the lace or iron loop in the center with their left hand, and play the drum with mallet by the right hand. The mallet can be beaten on the center, edge or frame of the drum. Players can also use their left hands to strike the back side of drum head to get different sound effects.

Photo credit: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6550ee5b0100rxyx.html


After arranging the types of drum, it is found that every drum has a unique story. The different stories of drum create different cultures. It is so interesting.

Reference:

  1. https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/鼓
  2. http://big5.cri.cn/gate/big5/gb.cri.cn/1321/2009/04/10/542s2480873.htm
  3. http://baike.baidu.com/view/161771.htm
  4. http://baike.baidu.com/view/24527.htm
  5. https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/八角鼓