International Drum Month is celebrated in May, and we can feel the rhythm and joy already. What is it about drums that create deep connections with forces greater than us? Drumming is hypnotic, compelling listeners to sway or jump at each turn. Music has always offered humans a space for connection. Drums achieve this quite spectacularly. Perhaps their beat mimics the energy and sound of the earth. Their sounds call us to become who we ought to be — happy, unfettered, and making meaningful connections. Every year in May, musicians everywhere celebrate this most beloved musical instrument.
History of International Drum Month
Music has been a part of life ever since our ancestors learned how to interact. As a social species, humans thrive on connections. Words and actions helped the earliest humans achieve the need to communicate. Soon, it extended to recreating gentle sounds from nature for comfort. We sang lullabies to soothe infants or found objects in nature to hit. Our ancestors made the first drums with membranes from animal skins.
Anthropologists believe that drumming was born to mimic the earth’s rhythm or even our heartbeats. Depending on moods and musicians, drumming was slow and gentle. Sometimes, it was aggressive and rapid.
Ancient civilizations used drums during religious rites. As human society evolved, people felt the need to communicate with gods and spirits through music. Music combined with prayers brought people closer to the divine. Over time, drums would signify joy — euphoric beats that upped the energy at banquets, festivals, and other occasions.
Not much has changed since then. We still love a great beat. Scientists believe that drums awaken our senses, triggering the need to sway and move our bodies. Have your limbs ever moved as if independent from the body? Let’s say when the bass drops at a concert? Now you know why that happens.
Drums can be the glue that keeps a song or band together. They mean so much more than rhythm or keeping time. The best drummers incorporate melody into their playing. Polyphony, call, or response elements add depth and emotion to songs. The numerous valleys and peaks in a piece of music depend on skilled drumming techniques. Drums skilfully weave music in and out of verses, bridges, and choruses.
International Drum Month is an homage to this fantastic musical instrument. Drummers and budding musicians everywhere celebrate the month in the way they know best — by creating music.
International Drum Month timeline
After the Crusades, the drum becomes central to battlefield strategy and morale in Europe.
The Bono people popularize talking drums whose pitch can mimic the tone of human speech.
Drums form the bedrock of large orchestras in the Medieval Ages.
The drum kit, as we know it today, is born.
International Drum Month FAQs
Why is the drum used in so many cultures?
Every traditional culture throughout time has had its drum. Drums have been used for communication and to celebrate mortals and immortals. Across the globe, drumming has been part of the history of people both grounding themselves and transcending this world
Is drumming good for your brain?
Drumming can release a rush of endorphins that dispel negative emotions. Playing for just a few minutes can improve moods and energy levels.
Are drummers good at math?
It would be safe to assume they are. Drummers keep time, tempo, and count beats in a band. Scientists say that drummers can also use advanced mathematics (fractals) in their drum patterns.
International Drum Month Activities
Drum the month away
Dust off an old drum kit and drum your heart out this month. Don’t have a drum kit? Find a djembe or use your fingertips to create a beat.
Discover percussion music
Learn about drumming music traditions in different countries. Watch videos or tune in to podcasts for the best percussion immersion.
Join a drum circle
Nothing can beat the energy and hypnotic beats of a drum circle. Look up the closet one and attend. Or better still, participate.
5 Facts About The Djembe That Will Blow Your Mind
A spiritual medium
Djembe made from a wood called ‘lenke’ is highly valuable and has spiritual meanings.
A name for djembe players
An expert djembe player is known as a ‘djembefola.’
The meaning behind djembe
‘Djembe’ has Bambara origins and translates to “everyone gathers in peace.”
Djembe for communication
African tribes used the djembe for long-distance communication or drumming since the sound could carry for miles.
The soul of djembe
The djembe contains three spirits — the tree that made it, the animal whose skin covers it, and the drum maker.
Why We Love International Drum Month
It’s a day that connects us
Drumming connects us to ourselves, others, and the world around us. Drums are uplifting and it's proof that something larger exists outside ourselves.
It’s a month for grooving
Whether you like jazz, rock, or folk music — drums up the energy levels anytime. We love the idea of everyone grooving for an entire month.
It's a time to tune in
Few things bring more joy than discovering new music. International Drum Month reminds us to take some time and tune in to the best international beats.
International Drum Month dates