Confused about which World Drum is right for you? With the growing love for drums from cultures across the world, more people are looking to incorporate the unique sound of drums from Africa, India and Latin America into performances and recordings. Each drum has its own voice, a distinctive history and ties to cultures and practices around the world, and discovering the perfect drum can be a fascinating journey.
Djembe drums are perhaps the most well-known hand drums today. These drums are native to the Yoruba tribes of West Africa, and were used for festivals, celebrations, spiritual ceremonies and to communicate between the different tribes. Djembe drums are played with the hands, carved from select hardwoods and can be rope-tuned or key-tuned.
Bongos are Cuban drums that have inspired Latin musicians, mid-century poets and modern percussionists around the world. Noted for the ease of playing with the hands, these drums are portable enough to be included in any drum performance or event, yet produce an unmistakable sound when played. Bongos are available in fiberglass, carved wood or wooden stave varieties.
Conga drums are Afro-Cuban drums that are also known as Tumbadoras. Congas are a trio of drums played with the hands, and can be heard in Latin, world and several other genres of music, including rock and R&B. Constructed from staves of plantation grown wood, or fiberglass, conga drums are tunable and can be played in conjunction with many other hand drums.
Cajon drums are a testament to the spirit of music and drumming. Based off of the repurposed drums of African slaves in Peru, the Cajon has become a vital part of Flamenco, Salsa and many other Latin-inspired music genres. Cajon drums are also favored in acoustic performances. These drums are played with the hands, producing deep bass tones and snare sounds. Today, Cajon drums are made from hardwoods and can be found in many different shapes and sizes.
Batá drums were originally played in West Africa, by the Yoruba tribes, during spiritual ceremonies. From Africa, the Batá found its way to Cuba and Puerto Rico, where it remains an important part of religious practices in those areas. Batá drums are played with the hands, with the drum placed across the lap, allowing the hands to beat each head independently. Typically found in sets of three drums, Batá drums are hourglass-shaped and made from fiberglass or hardwoods.
Timbales are the Latin equivalent of the snare drum in a standard drum kit. Originally from Cuba, these drums are easily heard in many types of Latin music, from Salsa to Mambo, and even in reggae and rock music. Made from various metals, timbales are played with sticks, utilizing the drum head, rim and shell to create a dynamic range of sounds.
Doumbek, or Darbuka drums are mostly heard in Middle Eastern and North African music, but have a presence in Celtic cultures in Europe, as well. A favorite drum for accompanying belly dancers, the Doumbek is goblet-shaped and typically made from metals like aluminum or copper. These drums are played with the hands, fingertips or with small sticks, producing a melodic sound and countless rhythmic possibilities.
Brazilian drums come in different shapes and sizes. Most noted are the Tambourim, a jingle-free hand drum and the Pandeiro, a frame drum much like a tambourine, both of which are constructed from hardwood. The Surdo, a kettle drum with a deep bass sound, can be found in both metal and wood versions. Brazilian drums are most noted for their presence in festivals like Carnivale, but can also be found in various genres of music around the world.
Dhol drums are unique to India’s music and culture. Played during festivals and celebrations, these large, two-sided drums are strapped to the drummer while being played with sticks, mallets or the hands. Each drum head has a different pitch, and can be made from wood or acrylic materials, as well as held together through ropes and rings, or metal hardware.
Tablas are a rich part of the spiritual culture within India. This pair of drums produce bell-like tones and rhythms while played with the hands and fingertips. Each drum is constructed separately; the larger Bayan is bowl-shaped and made from metal, while the smaller Dayan drum is carved from wood. A unique feature of tabla drums is the black circle on the drum head that is credited with creating the melodic tone of these drums.
Our drums tell a story through their construction, sound and method of play, but it is a story only you can finish with your own unique sound and rhythm. From West Africa to Latin America, India to the Middle East, drums call to all people, regardless of location and origin. Finding your perfect drum is more than a matter of what is available, but also shows a connection to the beauty and self-expression of rhythm and drumming.