Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Garrison from Gainesville, GA. Garrison Wonders, “Who invented the drums?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Garrison!

Do you enjoy the pulse of electronic dance music? How about loud and raucous rock and roll? Whichever type of music you enjoy, there’s one instrument that drives the beat forward. It helps keep the other instruments on track. What are we talking about? The drum!

The drum dates back thousands of years. It’s much older than guitars, pianos, and most other instruments. Historians have found some more than 6,000 years old in Egypt. Even older versions made from alligator skins have been found in China.

Who made the first drum? No one knows. But it probably did not take ancient humans long to figure out how to make a basic one. It was just a matter of stretching animal skin over a hollow container. There are many types today. Still, the basic design of the instrument hasn’t changed for thousands of years.

Today, when you think of playing the drums, you might picture large kits that players in rock bands use. These sets are made from several different types of percussion instruments. They include snare, bass, and tom-tom drums, as well as cymbals.

Drum sets are usually played using sticks. Many other types can be played with only the hands. One example is the djembe. This is a goblet drum from West Africa. It’s almost always played with the hands. Other kinds are played with mallets—sticks with soft material or yarn on the end used to strike the stretched surface, or drum head.

Many cultures have made their own unique types of drums. You can find musicians playing bongos, congas, tablas, taikos, doumbeks, and many others. Each of these has its own unique structure and sound.

The earliest drums were made with natural materials. Most included animal skins and gourds. Today, however, many are made with synthetic materials like plastics and composite materials.

Are you interested in playing the drums? To do so professionally, you need plenty of training and equipment. That’s true of any instrument. Drums can also be played by amateurs with little or no training. In fact, just about anyone can make their own out of common household items. Then, they can use their hands to tap out a beat!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day features some creatures that never, ever say, “School’s out!”