Rattle drum

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The Japanese denden daiko is the typical shape of a rattle drum with two beating balls hanging from strings.

Rattle drums are indirectly struck drums that are shaken or rotated quickly around their own axis so that balls enclosed on the inside or attached to strings on the outside hit two eardrums and thus cause a beat sequence or a crackling noise. According to the Hornbostel-Sachs system , the division into individual rattle drum types is based on the shape of the body, as is the case with drums that are struck directly, i.e. with sticks or hands.

Rattle drums are common as children's toys; They are also used in religious rituals, by street musicians and by jugglers to add background noise to their performances. Its historical distribution area is Mesopotamia , the ancient Eastern Mediterranean, India and East Asia .


A distinction is made between two types according to the arrangement of the impact balls:

  1. Rattle drums excited from the outside with balls on strings, which are also called rattle drums, usually have the form of frame drums or hourglass drums covered on both sides . Their body is often provided with a handle on which they are turned to both sides by moving the wrist. Alternatively, the stem can be made to rotate between the two palms rubbing against each other or the eardrum can be hit with one hand. A stalk of frame drums is otherwise typical of those used in religious rites in North Asia einfelligen shaman drums and the questionable time Tibetan ritual drums ( RNGA ,), also used to those of shamans in eastern Nepal with rattle bodies filled dhyangro heard, and still is in rare, only in Yemen played single-headed sahfa before.
  2. Inside entrapped beads should be a certain distance without hindrance cover to conform to the necessary when shaking pulse incident on the membrane, which is why this group usually the form of a cylindrical drum of rattle tubular barrel own. The percussive effect arises here as with the rattling of vessels belonging to the idiophones ; The current instrument classification does not differentiate according to area of ​​application, playing style or body shape, but only whether the vibrations emanate from a membrane or directly from the vessel wall. The rattle drums, which occupy a position between idiophones and membranophones , with their noisy sound result, are closer to rattles than to drums that produce audible single beats.

Origin and Distribution

Mesopotamia, Orient

Rattles appear on cylinder seals together with the oldest fragments of a lyre known from Mesopotamia in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC. In the royal tombs of Ur . During the 1st dynasty in Ur and later in the city of Akkad (middle and end of the 3rd millennium BC ), there are isolated images of Sistren (handgrip rattles), which can also be interpreted as rattling handles. During the New Sumerian period (around 2000 BC), the dancers used small round frame drums instead of the previous rattling in ritual dances. The women shown standing face-on hold the instrument with both hands in front of their chests. This playing posture could also involve rattle drums filled with grains. The grains would symbolically represent a relationship to the character of the figures as a mother goddess, who embody a fertility cult. According to Wilhelm Stauder, such rattle drums probably preceded the development of the frame drum in Mesopotamia. Until the first half of the 2nd millennium BC Instead of the earlier rattle drum, a single-headed small frame drum had become the most important rhythm instrument. The dancers now held the frame drum pressed against their left shoulder and, judging by their stiff posture, probably played it in a fixed ritual and with the fingers of both hands, as is still common today with Arabic frame drums ( Arabic tabl for drum in general) . In the Assyrian period , frame or rattle drums were used in cult dances instead of rattling and clapping hands. A dance performance under Assurbanipal (mid-7th century BC) shows the actors making music, singing and moving in a step dance .

The written names of the Mesopotamian musical instruments are with one exception - that of the large kettle drum lilissu - not assigned to images and their shape is not described, which is why they are difficult to classify. The Sumerian term for musical instruments in general was obviously balag ( balaggu ). In a narrower sense, the term referred to the lyre, at that time the most important instrument used in cult. At least since ancient Babylonian times, balag also or in particular referred to a drum, because drums now came to the fore over stringed instruments. To distinguish between drum and string instrument, the Babylonians added the word for string instrument to giš.balag ( giš means "wood") and the drum to mašak balaggu , corresponding to the earlier name kuš.balag . A word addition to kuš.balag.di probably referred to the small round rattle drum. Synonyms for this were possibly mašak timbutu and mašak telitu . This would fit the fact that “ cricket ” was called timbut eqli , literally “drum of the field”. The word formations for the frame and rattle drum may show that the round drum was not only smaller than the lyre, but also had less importance as a dance instrument than the lyre, which was perceived as divine. Lyres and harps were not used to accompany dances in the early Sumerian period. Such considerations serve to clarify whether the terms stringed instruments or drums were meant. The onomatopoeic Sumerian word ḫar.ḫar could also have meant rattle drum.

In ancient Egypt a large number of different idiophones were used in cult music: metal rattles, clay vessel rattles, cymbals and bells. There were also kettle drums beaten by hands and, in Hellenistic Egypt, rattle drums. These were still unknown in ancient Egypt , but were generally used in cults in ancient times in the eastern Mediterranean and in Asia Minor. They were filled with grain, sometimes with small snail shells or sand.

In the early Islamic period, stamping feet and clapping hands developed into a differentiated musical form in the Orient. Already Ṭuwais (632–710), the first famous singer of Arabic music , appeared in Medina without melody instruments, accompanied only by the vascular rattle qaḍīb , which occurs as qarqaba to this day in the Maghreb . The Arabs adopted the rattling of vessels from the liturgical music of the Coptic Church in Egypt, in which various stem bells are still shaken to this day. The oriental cult music includes handgrip rattles, vessel rattles or bells mentioned in the Koran , sistras and furthermore the rattle drums with enclosed bumpers and in Egypt the rattle drums.

Today the rattle drum is played in Egypt at religious annual celebrations, for example on the birthday of the Prophet ( Maulid an-Nabī ). Its frame, made from a strip of wood or sheet metal, has a diameter of 14 to 15 centimeters and a height of about four centimeters. A 40 centimeter long rod leads through two opposite holes in the middle of the frame and protrudes a little on the top. A cord with a corn kernel pierced at the end is attached to each side of the frame. The membrane made of animal skin or strong paper produces thuds.

A percussion instrument typologically between this rattle drum and a sistrum is used by oriental Christians from the Maronites in Lebanon to the Greek Orthodox Christians in Egypt under the name marāwe , also al-mirwaḥa ( Arabic "the fan") or al-mirāh ("the Mirror"). During important festive services, the priest walks through the church, accompanied by two assistants, each with two marāwe . In terms of instruments, it is a shaking diophone (more precisely a frame rattle ), which consists of a round metal disc on a long handle, on the edge of which small rattles are attached. The disc and stem are made of silver or silver-plated bronze. The metal rattles, made up of two half-shells, each contain a stone, so that when you shake it, you will hear twice: the rattles hit the disc and the stones hit the inside of the rattle. Rattling drums are not known in Africa, but the marāwe served as a model for African sistren, which consist of a calabash ring.

India, Tibet

In the Tibetan cult music played wooden rattle drum Tibetan gcod dar- in India damaru .
The ritual drum dtâ-bbêr-lèr (pronounced "damberlör", phonetic adoption of damaru ) of the Naxi in southern China is similar to the ji wu played by the Qiang .

The hourglass drum damaru, which is played in Tibetan and Indian music , belongs to this cultic tradition. In Indian mythology, the damaru is an attribute of several gods and is particularly well known in the hand of Shiva , who performs the cosmic dance Tandava in his manifestation as Nataraja . The rattling damaru symbolizes the sound of the universe newly created by Shiva. In Hindu invocations, the damaru is used like cymbals or the bell stem ( gante, ghanta ). In today's Indian street music, the damaru is the instrument of jugglers showing monkeys ("monkey drum"), beggars and religious ballad singers.

In Tibetan Buddhist cults, the rattling drum rnga-chung accompanies the monk's recitation when the aim is to summon a deity and get her attention. Rattling drums ( thod rnga ) made from two human skull shells are only allowed to be used by high-ranking monks to come into contact with terrifying deities. The Chinese minority of the Qiang , who live in the Sichuan province bordering the highlands of Tibet in the east , use in their own shamanic ritual tradition a single-headed frame drum beaten with a stick and the smaller double-headed rattling drum ji wu with a handle, whose cylindrical body consists of a thin strips of wood was bent.

East Asia, Southeast Asia

Chinese children's toy bolang-gu

In East Asia, beating balls attached to strings are found on different drum types, which indicates a later addition to existing drums. In the Chinese book of documents , according to Curt Sachs' contribution to the culture of culture from 1929, the rattle drum with the name tao ( Chinese    /  , Pinyin táo , W.-G. t'ao ) is mentioned, consequently it has existed in China at least since the 2nd Century BC The tao was one of the large number of drums that were played in court music during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). It is possible that the principle of the rattle drum developed in East Asia from the custom of attaching votive objects to a stem drum which, when the drum was struck, produced an initially unintended background noise. This is referred to by an illustration in an old Tibetan manuscript, which shows a stem drum hung in this way and being struck with a stick. The resounding use of rattle drums in religious rituals could therefore have resulted from the practice of attaching small votive offerings to or in a drum with cords. “Small hand drums”, tao ku , are children's toys. In different sizes, the rattling drums are the traditional signaling instruments used by Chinese street vendors.

The first description of a Chinese stringed instrument of the tube- spike type erhu comes from Ch'en Yang in his work Yüeh-shu from 1195. It says: “The Hsi-ch'in is originally an instrument of the barbarians. It comes from the stringed rattle drums and its body also belongs to this class. The Hsi tribe preferred this instrument. ”The Hsi were a Mongolian nomadic tribe that belonged to the Donghu (Tung-hu) and was first mentioned under this name in the Sui dynasty (581–618). The description shows that the stringed instrument came from barbarians (foreign peoples) from the west or north, possibly from Turkic peoples , and had the round body of a rattle drum covered with skin. At this time, string instruments with two strings were already known in China, which were made to vibrate with a friction stick inserted between the strings. Laurence Picken suspects that a musical instrument called hsien-t'ao in the Tang period was not, as assumed for the name hsi-ch'in , a rattle drum with strings and converted into a string instrument, nor was it a plucked drum like the Indian one ektara , but - because the name appears in a list of military musical instruments in Tang times - it was a real rattle drum that had to sound louder than a string instrument for the purpose.

A 19th century musical toy that originated in Shanghai is housed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston . The rattle drum called midalang shows a human figure beating a frame drum himself. The figure hangs on the side of a long stick, rotating. If you let the figure rotate in a circle, the figure's arm (a movable wooden stick) hits the drum. Similar toys can be found in China to this day.

Chinese peddlers in Java called klontong after their rattling drum . Semarang , 1913

The courtly rattling drum is called furitsuzumi ( 振 鼓 , "swinging hand drum") in Japan and is a further development of the Chinese tao with two barrel-shaped resonating bodies speared onto a rod at right angles to each other. It belongs to the classical Gagaku court music imported from China around the 8th century and, within this genre, to the Bugaku dance music. There is also the simple version denden daiko ( で ん で ん 太 鼓 ) used as a children's toy , the circular body of which is covered with painted paper on both sides. Denden is onomatopoeic for the sound of a drum, daiko calling with a specifying prefix a particular drum type, while the independent word taiko referred to the numerous different tube drums in Japan.

In Indonesia, especially in Java , there were Chinese peddlers during the Dutch colonial period who announced their presence with the clattering drum klontong and who were themselves named after their signaling instrument . The klontong consists of a barrel-shaped body with a handle and is covered with snakeskin on both sides. In the middle of the body opposite two strings are attached to which a wax ball hangs. Imported from China, the klontong was incorporated into Bali 's ceremonial music , where it is used in an hourglass-shaped form by the assistants of the Hindu Sudra priest (who is not a Brahmin , sengguhu ) to drive out spirits. A small hourglass-shaped drum without a handle already holds a Bhairava statue of the Singhasari empire from the 13th century in one of its hands. You might be a such as the Tibetan damaru represent two skull bowls rattling drum made.


In the catalog of the American musical instrument collection named after the founder Frederick Stearns, published in 1918, a conical rattle drum 28 centimeters long is described under number 344. The diameters of the openings covered with skin are 14 and 19 centimeters. Inside the instrument, which comes from the African Sudan region , there are some solid rattles. A similar rattle drum was known by the North American Hopi Indians at the time under the name pur-pi-shuk-pi-po-ya . A few other specimens preserved in museums show that other North American Indians also owned simple shaking drums with enclosed rattles. The Anishinabe (Ojibwa) filled lead shot into their rattle drum called zhiishiigwan , which, like other rattles, was only allowed to be used by medicine men for healing ceremonies or divination. The Swedish ethnographer Karl Gustav Izikowitz took the view that the Indians, according to the common practice of keeping more or less sacred things in vessels, initially only casually exploited their sounding effect when they were struck. Rattle drums have therefore developed in regions where rattles and drums were used equally, and in America they were the forerunners of the closed double-headed drums. Karl Izikowitz anticipated the assumption made by Wilhelm Stauder for the development of the Sumerian frame drums in 1935. A special rattle drum of the Ojibwa consists of two flat frame drums connected laterally by a handle.

In addition to several small percussion instruments, Mauricio Kagel has a rattling drum performed in his Chamber Music Match for Three Players from 1964.

Web links

Commons : Rattle Drum  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wilhelm Stauder: Sumerian-Babylonian Music. In: Friedrich Blume (Ed.): The music in past and present . 1st edition, Bärenreiter, Kassel 1965, Sp. 1739f
  2. Wilhelm Stauder: The music of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians . In: Bertold Spuler (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Orientalistik. 1. Dept. The Near and Middle East. Supplementary Volume IV. Oriental Music. EJ Brill, Leiden / Cologne 1970, pp. 185, 198
  3. Wilhelm Stauder: The music of the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. In: Bertold Spuler (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Orientalistik. 1. Dept. The Near and Middle East. Supplementary Volume IV. Oriental Music. EJ Brill, Leiden / Cologne 1970, p. 216f
  4. Hans Hickmann: Altägyptische Musik: In: Bertold Spuler (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Orientalistik. 1. Dept. The Near and Middle East. Supplementary Volume IV. Oriental Music. EJ Brill, Leiden / Cologne 1970, p. 156
  5. ^ Hans Hickmann: The music of the Arabic-Islamic area. In: Bertold Spuler (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Orientalistik. 1. Dept. The Near and Middle East. Supplementary Volume IV. Oriental Music. EJ Brill, Leiden / Cologne 1970, pp. 60f
  6. ^ Hans Hickmann: The Rattle-Drum and Marawe-Sistrum. In: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No.1 / 2 , Apr., 1950, pp. 2-6
  7. Michael Oppitz : Ritual Objects of the Qiang Shamans. In: RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 45, spring 2004, p. 25f
  8. LER Picken : T'ang Music and Musical Instruments. In: T'oung Pao, Second Series, Volume 55, No. 1/3, 1969, pp. 74-122, here p. 103
  9. Curt Sachs : Spirit and Becoming the Musical Instruments. Dietrich Reimer, Berlin 1929, p. 172
  10. Heide Nixdorff: On the typology and history of frame drums. ( Baessler archive . Contributions to ethnology. New series, supplement 7) Dietrich Reimer, Berlin 1971, p. 75
  11. RF Wolpert: Some remarks on the history of the string instrument in China. In: Central Asiatic Journal, Volume 18, No. 4, 1974, pp. 253-264, here pp. 257f
  12. LER Picken: T'ang Music and Musical Instruments. In: T'oung Pao, Second Series, Volume 55, No. 1/3, 1969, p. 127
  13. ^ Mitchell Clark: Chinese Instruments in the Galpin Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, with a Focus on the Sound-Makers . In: The Galpin Society Journal, Volume 59, May 2006, pp. 207–216, 262–265, here p. 214, fig. 10
  14. Furi Tsuzumi. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (illustration of a 19th century furitsuzumi )
  15. 振 鼓 . In: 世界 大 百科 事 典 第 2 版 at kotobank.jp. Retrieved August 28, 2014 (Japanese).
  16. でんでん太鼓 . In: 百科 事 典 マ イ ペ デ ィ ア / デ ジ タ ル 大 辞 泉 at kotobank.jp. Retrieved August 28, 2014 (Japanese).
  17. ^ Jaap Art : Music in Java. Its History, its Theory and its Technique. 3rd edition edited by Ernst L. Heins. Volume 1. Martinus Nijhoff, Den Haag 1973, p. 219
  18. ^ Albert A. Stanley: Catalog of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2nd edition 1921, p. 56 ( at Internet Archive )
  19. Karl Gustav Izikowitz: Musical Instruments and Other Sound of the South American Indians. Göteborg 1935, p. 178; Quoted in: Thomas Vennum Jr .: The Ojibwa Dance Drum: Its History and Construction. (Smithsonian Folklife Studies, 2) Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington 1982, pp. 37f
  20. ^ Match for Three Players (1964): CUBE Music at TEDxUniversityatBuffalo. Youtube video. Composition by Mauricio Kagel (rattle drum from 11:30)