What was the first drum instrument? Was it wood or stone? Maybe there is an answer out there, but all I found were mere discussions.

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    I feel like you're going to need a time machine to answer that one. Can I borrow it when you're done? – endorph Dec 27 '16 at 22:10
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    It might be hard to get a concrete answer for this, but I'm sure there must be research on this and someone who could summarize the state of our knowledge about early drum-like instruments. – user28 Dec 27 '16 at 22:12
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    Might come down to terminology - is hitting a stone comparable to hitting a hollow log? And is that comparable to a hide stretched over a frame? Which counts as a drum? – Doktor Mayhem Dec 27 '16 at 22:20
  • I was just wondering how did the first drum appear. I guess i was a stone but I may be wrong. – SovereignSun Dec 27 '16 at 22:48
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    Your problem is that this would have been well before any form of written history... – Doktor Mayhem Dec 27 '16 at 23:05

I don't think we can know exactly. There are no records of something that far back. Then again, which part of the world are you talking about? There were probably a few different versions of the drum invented at about the same time, and they were probably made from different materials. And also,what can you call a 'drum'? Do two pieces of stone, not shaped in any special way, count as an instrument? The first drum that had any special acoustic shape was probably made of wood, since it's easier to carve. But the very basic drum- two pieces of something- might have been stone, too.


The first 'official drum' was from medieval Europe and was called a Tabor. However in Asia they were using percussion already, aboriginals in Australia were using rhythm sticks for thousands of years and people in Africa had been using percussion and instruments which would evolve into Djembe's. Who knows maybe even neanderthal man hit some sticks against a rock thousands upon thousands of years ago.

The simple answer is that it was most likely some sort of animal skin stretched over hollow wood. There is no definite answer.


Taking "drum" to mean "percussion instrument" where that instrument was used for a clearly musical purpose...

(Among) The first known "drums", alongside perhaps wood and stone, were bone instruments. Percussion instruments of this sort have been dated as early as 70,000 BCE according to "A Brief History of Drums".

Among the earliest known examples of percussion instruments are idiophones made from mammoth bones found in present-day Belgium. These instruments are thought to date from 70,000 B.C.[E.]

The article goes on to describe the precursors to modern drums.

The kinds of drums used by today's drummers have precursors in the musical instruments of ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. These cultures used frame drums -- drum heads stretched over a shallow wooden frame.

This would suggest (very loosely) sometime in the realm of 4000 BCE (give or take a millenium).

The Wikipedia article "Music of India" suggests "rock drums" emerging somewhere between 20,000 and 4000 years ago.

Mesolithic and chalcolithic cave art of Bhimbhetka illustrates very simple musical instruments such as rock drums, and other simple instruments.

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