International Drum Month was annually observed in November from 1996 to 2013. Since 2014 and to this day, the world celebrates percussion instruments in May.
While the origins of Drum Month are unclear, we do know a lot about the history of drums and the instrument’s impact on our health, both physical and mental. Let’s take it as an opportunity to learn more, improve our well-being and experience the fun of drumming!
The Fascinating History of Drums
The history of drums goes way back. They are considered to be the world’s oldest musical instruments and their basic design has remained nearly unchanged for thousands of years. The first drums we know of have been found in Neolithic cultures of China, dating to 5500 BC.
According to the literary records of the time, drums were primarily used for ritual ceremonies – it was believed that drums manifested shamanistic characteristics.
The Book of Music written during the Sung Dynasty states that drums were also utilized for communicating public discontent. Han emperors placed several drums on the streets for people to beat the drums if they were dissatisfied with the government.
During a war between Qi and Lu in 684 BC, drums were used to motivate troops and time their moves, as well as train soldiers to be more efficient. In Europe, drums weren’t used for military purposes until the early 13th century.
Another historical example of the use of drums is as a means of communication over great distances. The talking drum was used to imitate the tone patterns of spoken language in West Africa, with origins in the Ghana Empire between the 7th and 13th centuries. Depending on the way the talking drums are played, they sound like a human humming. Skilled players were able to play entire phrases!
The Health Benefits of Drumming
Drumming can have positive effects on our health and help with many conditions from stress and anxiety to asthma, hypertension and chronic pain. Here is why drumming is good for you:
🟡It burns more calories than many forms of exercise. Even though we usually sit while drumming, playing involves legs and the entire body. On average, drummers burn 200 to 600 calories per standard session. An hour-long performance can burn around 1000 calories and count as an alternative to cardio. The more intense and fast you play, the more you burn. As drumming requires large amounts of strength and endurance, it also tones your muscles just like yoga and pilates do.
🟡It lowers blood pressure. The ‘high’ drummers that feel after a performance reduces systolic and diastolic pressures and balances the heartbeat. Blood pressure reduction improves heart health and in return lowers the chance of having strokes and heart attacks.
🟡It boosts the immune system. Ultrasound is a widely used practice for healing scar tissue, reducing inflammation and helping the body produce cells that fight viral illnesses and cancer. Drumming produces sound waves, thus improving the immune system.
🟡It teaches discipline. Drumming is a great example of an activity that helps us be more disciplined. A lot of effort and hard work has to be put into practice to get any good at playing percussion instruments. It requires persistence and promotes the valuable lesson that the energy put into honing a skill reflects the end result.
🟡It fosters intellectual development. Playing the drums (and especially a drum kit) makes us activate our brainpower and think in four different directions for each of the limbs. Drumming also requires us to keep a rhythm and be mindful of timing. Because of that, we unlock new levels of brainwave activity which improves our concentration and cognitive functioning as a whole.
How to Celebrate Drum Month
🎉Enhance your drumming skill. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced drummer, there is always room for improvement. You can practice a new routine, employ new techniques or get some tips and tricks from professionals. There are tons of lessons available both online and in real life. If you want to save money, get information for free on YouTube from drummers, such as Daily Drum Lesson, The 80/20 Drummer, Quincy Davis and Rob Brown.
🎉Watch drum-related movies. Get inspired and just have fun by watching drum-centered movies and documentaries like Count Me In, A Drummer's Dream, Sound of Noise, Beware of Mr. Baker, Drumline, The Drummer, The Gene Krupa Story, Ain't in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm, Sound of Metal, and of course Whiplash.
🎉Listen to songs with killer drum solos. You must already have a handful of favorite drum solos, but don’t forget about songs like ‘Moby Dick’ by Led Zeppelin, ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘YYZ’ by Rush, ‘Aja’ by Steely Dan, ‘Eleven’ by Primus, ‘Lover/Leave Us Leap’ by Gene Krupa, ‘Ticks & Leeches’ by Tool, ‘Painkiller’ by Judas Priest, ‘Bugle Call Rag’ by Buddy Rich, and ‘My Generation’ by The Who.
🎉Make drum covers of your favorite songs. It’s always fun to recreate the songs you love – pick a couple of them and dedicate this May to covering them in your own unique way. Bonus points if you train your ear in the process. Extract the drum track from a song and listen to it repeatedly until you understand how to play it. After that, remove the drum track from the song and play the drum part yourself along with the rest of the music. Wonder how to do it? Read about it in the next part of this article.
How to Extract/Remove Drums from a Song
If you want to cut out a drums-only track from a song and/or get a drumless version, LALAL.AI is the best tool for the task. It uses Phoenix, a revolutionary source separation technology that quickly splits audio and video files into stems with unprecedented accuracy. As a result, you get high-quality tracks you can use for practice, covers and other purposes.
- Open LALAL.AI in your browser.
- Click the Vocal and Instrumental button to open the Stem Separation Types list.
- Select the Drums option in the drop-down menu.
- Click the Select Files button to upload your song.
- Sign up and click Process the Entire File.
That’s it! All you have to do is click the download button (⤓) to save the drums-only and drumless tracks to your device.
Happy International Drum Month! 🥁