Hand drum  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A hand drum is any type of drum that is typically played with the bare hand rather than a stick, mallet, hammer, or other type of beater. The simplest type of hand drum is the frame drum, which consists of a shallow, cylindrical shell with a drumhead attached to one of the open ends.



The Following descriptions refer to tradditional versions of the drums. Modern synthetic versions are available for most if not all of the drums listed through various manufacturers.

Middle & Near East

  • A frame drum common in Middle Eastern music is the Tar (drum).
  • The tambourine is simply a frame drum with jingles attached to the shell.
  • The daf and the dayereh are Iranian frame drums.
  • Ghaval is the Azerbaijani frame drum.
  • The tonbak is the Persian goblet drum.
  • The Doumbek is a goblet shaped drum used in Arabic, Jewish, Assyrian, Persian, Balkan, Greek, Armenian, Azeri and Turkish music.
  • Mirwas


  • The most common African drum known to westerners is the djembe, a large, single-headed drum with a goblet shape.
  • The Ashiko is another African drum in the shape of a truncated cone. Similar to the Djembe it is rope strung. This drum is easily recognized as having straight sides (many actually have a slight curve but appear straight compared to most hand drums). The ashiko, contrary to popular belief, is tradditionally mounted with wild game heads such as a gazzel. Most modern Ashikos are made with goat skin as a matter of convenience or legality, differing their sound from that of the traditional ashiko. A more tradditional sounding ashiko can be created using hand picked goat skins that imitate the game skin or using deer skin (which requires more frequent tuning and maintenance). Modern Ashiko drums are quite popular but less so than other types of hand drums Template:Citation needed; their lack of popularity can be attributed to their nontraditional sound.
  • Bougarabou are African drums with cow skin heads. The base of the drum is shorter than a djembe and the goblet shape less pronounced. (This is the believed by some to be the African tradditional predecessor of the Conga.)

Latin percussion

  • Congas and bongos are essential to all kinds of Latin American music, especially that of the Caribbean and South American regions, used in both folklore (punta, santeria, rumba, etc.) and popular music such as merengue, salsa, son, boleros, bachata, cumbia, latin jazz, and others.
  • The Tambora, a two-sided drum played with both a stick and a hand, is essential to the merengue dance of Dominican Republic.
  • The maracas and timbales are widely played in popular music.

Far East and India

  • Tabla are central to Indian music.
  • The mridangam takes the main spot in Indian classical (Carnatic) music.
  • Ghatams and Kanjiras accompany the mridangam in carnatic music.
  • Răbāna or Raban, Gáta Béra, Yak Béra and Udákkiya are used in Sri Lankan music.
  • One drum head in Daŭla is played by hand, which is again used in Sri Lanka.
  • Dhōlki is used both in Sri Lanks and India, and even Pakistan.
  • Klong Yao is the Thai "long drum" which is shaped like an enlongated or stretched goblet and rope tuned.

Native American

  • Native Americans also had a frame drum version which is usually played with a mallet but can be played by hand.

(Name not found) There is a tradditional Native American drum that is tall and has vertical slits at the bottom of the drum allowing sound to escape from the sides. This drum although extremely rare in the modern world has shaped the way many play drums in modern America. A quick search of the web or attending diverse drum circles will reveal many people sitting on their drums which are laying horizontally on the ground. It is believed that this style of playing the drum (rather than sitting in a chair or holding it on your lap) originates here tradditionally (as well as simply being convenient)this is how the drum was played.


  • The Irish Bodhrán is sometimes played with the bare hand.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hand drum" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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