A hand drum is a type of drum that is played with bare hands instead of sticks, mallets, hammers, or other type of beaters. It comprises of one or more membranes stretched over a hollow body. Sounds are produced by striking the membrane, which is commonly called the head or skin.
The simplest type of hand drum is the frame drum, which is a shallow cylindrical shell with a drumhead attached to one its ends.
Hand drums assume different structures in different regions around the world. They also have unique names in each area. Following are popular type of hand drums across various countries:
Africa: Drums here are large and goblet shaped, called Djembe.
Brazil: Framed drums with metal jingles are most popular here and are called Pandeiro.
Cuba: Tall and narrow shaped drums are referred to as Tongos, while a set of two small drums are called Bongos.
India: Tabla is the most popular hand drum used here. It comprises of one small wood drum and one larger metal drum.
Ireland: Bodhran, a circular frame drum, is commonly played in this region.
Japan: Taiko consists of different variations of large-shell drums.
Middle East: Doumbek is a small goblet shaped hand drum which is common to its music culture.
North America: Circular frame drums called Hoop Drums have a significant presence here.
Peru: Cajon, which is essentially a wooden box is used to play music here.
Thailand: long goblet shaped drums here are referred as Klong Yao.
Hand drums in India
Even though the exact date when Indian drums first appeared is not clear, it is generally agreed that hand drums date back to at least 6,000 years. In the Sanskrit classic, Panchatantra (2OO BC), 49 types of rhythms are said to have existed. Ancient Indian sage and musician, Bharata Muni, claimed in his, now classic, Natya Shastra (200-400 BC) that music comprises of seven notes, three scales, twenty-one modulations, forty-nine rhythms and three speeds.
Types of popular hand drums in India
1.Tabla: The Tabla consists of two hand drums (dayan and bayan, which literally mean “left” and “right” respectively) whose tones complement each other. The dayan is slightly conical in shape and made of hollow wood such as teak, rosewood or oak. The head is made of a stretched and layered leather membrane, which is held in place by leather braces. The instrument is tuned by adjusting the tension with wooden pegs between the braces and the drum. The bayan is larger than the dayan and provides the bass.
2. Mridangam: The Mridangam is an ancient two-headed Indian hand drum with a wooden shell that is approximately 27 inches long. In Sanskrit the words ‘mrda’ and ‘anga’ refer to ‘clay’ and ‘body’, as a result of which, it’s generally accepted that this Indian drum was originally made of clay.
3. Ghatam: The Ghatam is a bulbou pot which is open at the top and has a narrow neck. The instrument resembles an ordinary clay pot, but is designed in a manner that makes it produce even tones. It can be positioned either on the lap, or on a table ring. It is played with both hands to strike the surface.
4. Kanjira: The kanjira is a frame drum which is used primarily in Carnatic music, in support of the mridangam. The wooden frame of the kanjira is about 8 inches, and is made using the jackfruit tree.
Other types of hand drums in India
11. Panchamukha Vadyam
13. Tabla tarang
14. Thanthi Panai