Early Forms of Membrane Drums

Lord Shiva, the God of the Hindu trinity known as the destroyer, is depicted holding a small drum called the damaru. This is a double-sided drum with two strings with each end tied into a knot attached to each side. By twirling the Damaru back and forth, the two strings strike the drums in a roll-like fashion. Structured and syncopated rhythm is not necessarily achieved with this drum; rather it provides a rhythm drone which has remained popular to this day. The pakhawaj, one of North India's earliest classical percussion instruments, shares this similar quality of a single barreled drum with heads on either side. Also, the word "damaru" phonetically resembles the word "drum" and may provide an additional clue to the early beginnings of percussion instruments. Interestingly, the Arabic word for drum pair is tabal, offering more possible theories to the historical evolution of the tabla. In summary, the immediate predecessors of today’s tabla may well be a combination of the Arabic tabal and the Indian pakhawaj.