Discover the Different Types of Shamanic Drums Used for Healing and Ceremony

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Shamanism, an ancient spiritual practice, involves connecting with the natural world and spirits to heal and gain insight. Drumming is a fundamental component of shamanic ceremonies, used to alter consciousness and communicate with the spirit realm. However, not all drums are created equal – different types of drums, made from various materials, are used in shamanic practices around the world. In this article, we will explore the diverse range of shamanic drums, their designs and materials, and how to choose the right drum for your needs. Whether you are a seasoned shamanic practitioner or new to the practice, understanding the role of drums in shamanism can deepen your spiritual experience and connection to the ancient traditions.

What is Shamanism and Drumming?

Shamanism is a practice that involves connections with spirits and energies of nature, with the aim of healing, divination, and restoring balance in one’s life. On the other hand, drumming is the rhythmic beating of a percussion instrument to produce sound vibrations that can heal and alter consciousness. The combination of shamanism and drumming results in a powerful tool for inducing trance states, spiritual journeys, and healing. The sound of the shamanic drum has been used for centuries in various cultures as a way of communicating with the spirit world, and it is an essential instrument in shamanic rituals. The repetitive sound of the drum stimulates the brainwaves, inducing a meditative state that promotes healing and stress relief. Additionally, drumming circles facilitate group healing and promote social bonding. For those interested in learning more about the history and techniques of shamanic drumming, there are resources available such as shamanic drum history, drumming in shamanic journeying, and shamanic drumming techniques.

Why Are Drums Important in Shamanism?

Shamanism is a practice of healing and spiritual connection that spans cultures and continents. It utilizes various techniques to connect with the spiritual realm and bring about healing and transformation. One of the most important tools in shamanism is the use of drums.

Drums are important in shamanism for several reasons:

Reason Description
1. Rhythm The rhythmic beating of the drum can induce a trance state, allowing the shaman to connect with the spiritual realm and access higher levels of consciousness. This is often referred to as the shamanic journey. The repetition of a steady beat can also help to calm and focus the mind.
2. Sound Healing The vibrations created by the drum can have a profound effect on the body and mind, promoting healing and balance. Studies have shown that shamanic drumming can even alter brainwave patterns, leading to a deep sense of relaxation and emotional release.
3. Intention Setting Shamanic drumming can be used to set intentions and focus energy. The shaman can use the drum to communicate with the spirits and send out healing energy to those in need.
4. Community Connection Drumming circles are often used in shamanic practice, providing an opportunity for the community to come together and share their energy and intention. This fosters a sense of connection and belonging, and can be a powerful force for healing and transformation.
5. Culture and Tradition Drums have been used in shamanic practice for thousands of years, and are an important part of many cultures and traditions. They are often considered sacred objects and are treated with reverence and respect. Using a drum in shamanic practice can help to connect the practitioner with their cultural and ancestral roots.

Drums are an essential tool in shamanic practice, helping to induce a trance state, promote healing, set intentions, foster community connection, and connect with tradition and culture. The power of shamanic drumming is truly remarkable and can have profound effects on both the individual and the collective. If you are interested in incorporating shamanic drumming into your own practice, consider making your own drum or attending a drumming circle. You can learn more about these options by visiting /make-shamanic-drum/ or /drumming-circles-shamanic-practice/.

Benefits of Drumming for Health and Well-Being

Drumming has been used for thousands of years in shamanism for healing and spiritual purposes. As people have become more interested in alternative and complementary therapies to support mental and emotional well-being, the benefits of drumming have gained attention. Here are a few benefits of drumming for health and well-being:

Benefit Description
Stress reduction The repetitive and meditative nature of drumming can help to reduce stress and anxiety. This helps to decrease the production of stress hormones like cortisol while increasing endorphins, leading to a sense of relaxation.
Pain relief Drumming has been found to have pain relieving effects. Studies show that drumming can help manage chronic pain and reduce the need for traditional pain medication.
Improved immune system function Studies have shown that drumming can improve immune system function. Drumming can increase natural killer cell activity, white blood cell count, and improve overall immune system function.
Mind-body connection Drumming can help create a connection between the mind and body, leading to a sense of wholeness. This connection can help to improve body awareness and reduce anxiety and depression.
Emotional release The emotional release that drumming can provide helps to release negative emotions and repressed feelings. Drumming can help to cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and clarity surrounding emotions.
Spiritual connection Drumming has been used in shamanism for centuries, and can help to facilitate a connection with the spiritual realm. This connection can help to deepen spiritual practice and lead to personal transformation.

In addition to these benefits, studies have also shown that drumming can have a positive impact on brainwaves and the nervous system.[1] It is important to note that these benefits can vary depending on the individual and the specific circumstances of the drumming experience. However, the overall benefits of drumming for health and well-being make it a valuable tool for anyone seeking to support their mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

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The Different Types of Shamanic Drums

The Different Types Of Shamanic Drums

Shamanic drums come in various types, shapes, sizes, and materials, each with unique properties and suitability for specific practices. Here are some of the most common types of shamanic drums used for healing and ceremony:

Frame drums are among the most common and versatile drums used in shamanism. They are flat with a shallow rim made of wood, and a drumhead stretched across it. Typically, the drumhead is made of animal hide or synthetic material. Frame drums are lightweight, portable, and produce a wide range of tones and rhythms.

Bodhrans are traditional Irish drums shaped like a frame drum with a goat-skin drumhead. They have a variable tone depending on where the drumhead is struck, and are known for their soothing and relaxing properties. Bodhrans produce a warm and earthy sound, and are often used in shamanic journeying and meditation.

Water drums, as the name suggests, are drums that are played in water, giving them a unique and distinctive sound. They are typically made of hollowed-out wood with a drumhead made of animal hide, and are played by placing them in water and striking the drumhead with the hands. Water drums are used primarily for healing purposes since the sound and vibrations produced by the drum are said to have a calming effect on the body.

Box drums, also known as Cajon drums, originated from Peru and are rectangular in shape with a sound hole in the rear. Box drums are played by sitting on the drum and tapping the front surface with the hands. They are popular in shamanic drumming circles because they have a deep and resonant sound that is great for grounding.

Slit drums, also known as log drums, are drums that have a hollowed-out body with one or more thin vertical slits cut into the top surface. The drum is played by striking the slits with sticks or hands, creating a reverberating sound. Slit drums are commonly used to call forth spirits in shamanic rituals.

Talking drums are hourglass-shaped drums with a narrow waist in the middle. They are played by squeezing the drumhead under one arm and striking the drumhead with a curved stick. Talking drums are renowned for their ability to mimic the tone and inflection of human speech, hence the name “talking drums.” They are popular in African shamanic practices.

Buffalo drums are large, round drums with a drumhead made from buffalo hide. They are often used by Native American shamans in powwows and other ceremonial rituals. Buffalo drums are thought to have a deep, powerful, and grounding energy that helps to balance the lower chakras.

Inca drums, also known as Quechua drums, are large cylindrical drums played with the hands. They are commonly used in shamanic rituals in the Andean regions of South America. Inca drums produce a deep and meditative resonance that helps to induce hypnotic states during shamanic ceremonies.

Daf drums are Middle Eastern frame drums with a broad rim and a drumhead made from goat or fish skin. They are played with the hands and produce a crisp and bright sound that is often used in Sufi trance ceremonies. Daf drums are said to have a healing effect on the body, mind, and spirit.

Doumbek drums, also known as Darbuka drums or goblet drums, are narrow-bodied drums with a drumhead made of animal hide or synthetic material. They are played with the hands, and are popular in Middle Eastern and North African music and shamanic practices. Doumbek drums produce a sharp and crisp sound that is great for rhythmic and trance-inducing drumming.

Native American drums are typically large, round drums with a drumhead made of animal hide. They are the centrepiece of many Native American shamanic ceremonies, where they are used for healing, prayer, and meditation. Native American drums produce a deep and resonant sound that creates a sense of connectedness with the earth.

Djembe drums are goblet-shaped drums from West Africa, played with the hands. They are made from a single piece of carved wood with a drumhead made of animal hide. Djembe drums produce a wide range of tones and rhythms, making them versatile in shamanic ceremonies. They are often used to communicate with spirits and evoke strong emotions in drum circle participants.

The type of shamanic drum you choose will depend on your personal preference, cultural lineage, intended use, and budget.

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Frame Drums

Frame drums are one of the oldest types of drums used in shamanic practices. They are generally circular or oblong in shape, with a single drumhead that is stretched over a wooden frame. Some of the most commonly used animal hides for the drumhead include goat, deer, or elk skin. These drums are relatively lightweight and easy to hold with one hand, which makes them ideal for use in ceremonies. The sound produced by frame drums is deep and resonant, with a distinctive bass tone that is ideal for inducing trance-like states. Frame drums are also often decorated with intricate designs, symbols, or feathers. They can vary in size, with smaller drums being ideal for personal use, and larger drums being more suitable for group settings. Frame drums are a valuable tool for shamanic drumming, and their unique design and sound make them a popular choice for practitioners worldwide.


Bodhrans are a traditional Irish drum that has become popular in shamanic drumming circles due to its unique sound. They are characterized by their shallow frame and single goatskin head, which is held in place by a series of tensioning knobs or metal tacks.

Unlike many other types of drums used in shamanic practice, bodhrans are played with a specialized type of beater known as a tipper. This allows the drum to produce a distinctive percussive rhythm that is both powerful and complex.

Advantages of Using Bodhrans in Shamanic Practice:

  • Bodhrans are incredibly lightweight and portable, making them ideal for shamanic practitioners who need to travel frequently.
  • Their unique sound can add a layer of richness and complexity to shamanic rituals and ceremonies, particularly when combined with other types of drums.
  • Since they are relatively easy to play, bodhrans can be a good option for beginners who are just starting to explore shamanic drumming.

How to Choose a Bodhran Drum:

Considerations Factors
Drum Size Choose a size that is appropriate for your body type and playing style. Standard bodhrans range in size from 12-18 inches in diameter.
Drumhead Material Most bodhrans are made with a goatskin head, although synthetic options are also available. Consider your personal preferences for feel and sound quality when selecting a drumhead material.
Tensioning System Decide whether you prefer a traditional tensioning system with tuning knobs or a modern system that uses screws or bolts.
Price Bodhrans can vary widely in price, so consider your budget before making a purchase.

Caring for Your Bodhran:

  • Store your bodhran in a cool, dry place to prevent deformation or damage to the drumhead.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to clean debris and dust from the drumhead.
  • Apply a thin layer of natural oil or beeswax to the drumhead to keep it supple and prevent cracking.

Bodhrans are a unique and versatile option for shamanic drumming practice. With careful selection and maintenance, they can provide years of enjoyment and musical exploration for all levels of shamanic practitioners.

Water Drums

Water drums, also known as ocean drums or wave drums, are a type of shamanic drum that produce a unique sound reminiscent of the tides and waves of the ocean. These drums are often used in shamanic healing ceremonies or meditation practices, as the sound of the water drumming can induce a deep sense of relaxation and connection to the natural world.

Water drums are typically made with a circular frame, like many other shamanic drums, and have a drumhead made of animal skin or synthetic material. The unique feature of water drums is the inclusion of small metal beads or seeds inside the drum, which create a gentle rattling sound when the drum is played. The beads or seeds mimic the sound of water droplets falling onto a surface, creating a soothing and calming effect.

The frame of water drums can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, bamboo, or recycled plastic. The drumhead of water drums can be made from synthetic materials, such as Mylar or Remo drumheads, or traditional animal hides, such as goat or calf skin.

One of the benefits of water drums is their versatility in producing different sounds depending on the way they are played. Water drums can be tilted or tilted back to produce a variety of sounds, from gentle lapping waves to crashing waves against the shore. Changing the angle of the drum also changes the speed of the bead or seed movement, creating a different effect each time.

Water drums are often used in combination with other shamanic instruments, such as rattles or singing bowls, to create a fuller and more immersive sound experience. They can also be used in sound healing sessions, where the gentle sound of water and the vibrations from the drumming can help to release tension and promote deep relaxation.

To care for your water drum, it’s important to keep it away from excessive moisture and to protect the drumhead from damage. Storing the drum in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight, can help to preserve its quality and prolong its lifespan. When not in use, it’s advisable to cover the drumhead with a cloth or protective cover to prevent dust and debris from accumulating.

Water drums are a unique and powerful tool for shamanic practitioners, healers, and meditation enthusiasts alike. Their soothing and calming sound can induce a deep sense of relaxation and connection to the natural world, making them a cherished item for those seeking inner peace and spiritual connection.

Box Drums

Box drums, also known as cajón drums, are a type of percussion instrument that originated in Peru. They are becoming increasingly popular in modern shamanic practices due to their versatility and portability. Box drums are typically box-shaped instruments that are played by sitting on top of them and hitting the front face with the hands or drumsticks.

One distinctive feature of box drums is the sound they produce. When struck in the center, the drum produces a deep bass sound, while striking the edges results in a higher, snare-like sound. This allows for a wide range of possible rhythms and sounds.

Box drums come in various sizes and shapes, ranging from small, portable drums to larger, more elaborate ones. They can be made from a variety of materials, including wood, metal, and even plastic, but wooden drums are the most common. The wood used for box drums can affect their sound and durability.

Some box drums also feature additional features, such as snares, which are adjustable strings that run across the drum’s face to produce a buzzing sound when struck. These snares add a unique quality to the drum’s sound and can be adjusted to suit the player’s preference.

Box drums are versatile instruments and are used in various music genres, including folk, pop, and even flamenco. As shamanic drums, they can be used to create a rhythmic beat for healing and journey work. Their compact size and portability make them ideal for traveling shamans or for outdoor ceremonies.

Overall, box drums are a versatile and highly portable option for shamanic drumming and are a great addition to any shamanic practitioner’s toolkit. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced drummer, a box drum can provide a rich and varied range of sounds to help you in your shamanic journey work.

Slit Drums

Slit drums, also known as log drums, are a type of percussion instrument that are indigenous to many cultures in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. They are called slit drums because they are carved out of a single log and have a long, narrow slit cut into the top. When the drum is hit with a mallet or stick, the slit vibrates and produces a deep, resonant sound that can travel long distances.

These drums are often used in shamanic ceremonies for their ability to create a powerful, grounding energy that connects the participants to the earth. In a shamanic context, the slit drum is often used as a call to summon ancestors or spirits, or as a way to induce states of trance or altered consciousness.

One example of a culture that uses slit drums in shamanic practice is the Bantu people of Central Africa. Their slit drums are called “ngoma” and are played at important events such as funerals, weddings, and initiation ceremonies. The Bantu believe that the ngoma connects them to their ancestral spirits and the realm of the divine.

In Oceania, the slit drum is known as the “log drum” and is used in traditional dances and rituals. The drum is often carved to depict animals or ancestors and is believed to have a spirit that can protect and guide the community.

African-American slaves in the southern United States also created slit drums using wooden barrels or hollowed-out logs. These were used in their own spiritual practices, including the ring shout, a form of religious dance that involved drumming and singing.

Slit drums come in a variety of sizes and designs, depending on the cultural context. They can be carved from hardwoods such as mahogany or ebony, or from softer woods like cedar or pine. The length and depth of the slit determine the pitch and volume of the drum, and some drums have multiple slits to create a range of tones.

Slit drums are a fascinating and significant type of shamanic drum that have been used for centuries in cultures around the world. Their resonant, grounding sound has the power to transport us to deeper states of awareness and connect us to the wisdom of our ancestors.

Talking Drums

Talking drums are a unique type of drum used in shamanism for healing and ceremony. These drums are called “talking” because they can mimic the tones and rhythms of human speech, making them a powerful tool for communication and storytelling.

Talking drums are typically hourglass-shaped and have a tensioned head on both ends. The drum is played by squeezing the tensioned strings on the sides of the drum, which changes the pitch of the sound. This allows the drummer to mimic the tone and rhythm of spoken language.

In shamanic practice, talking drums are often used to convey messages between villages or to communicate with spirits or ancestors. They can also be used during healing ceremonies to help communicate with the patient’s body or to connect with the patient’s spirit guides.

One unique feature of talking drums is that they can be played both horizontally and vertically. When played vertically, the drum is held between the player’s knees and played with both hands. When played horizontally, the drum is held in one hand and played with the other, allowing the drummer to move around while playing.

Talking drums are made from a variety of materials, including wood, animal skins, and ropes or cords. Some talking drums are decorated with intricate carvings or patterns, while others are left plain.

Talking drums are a fascinating and versatile type of shamanic drum, capable of conveying complex messages and connecting with the spiritual realm in a unique way. Whether you are a shamanic practitioner or simply a drum enthusiast, a talking drum can be a powerful addition to your collection.

Buffalo Drums

Buffalo drums are another type of shamanic drum used for ceremony and healing purposes. They are traditionally made from buffalo hide, which is believed to hold powerful spiritual energy.

Design and Characteristics: Buffalo drums have a deeper and fuller sound compared to other types of drums, which make them suitable for group ceremonies and large gatherings. They are usually larger in size, with diameters ranging from 16 to 24 inches. The drums are often decorated with intricate designs, feathers, and beads. The handle of the drum is usually made from wood and is placed in the center of the drumhead.

Symbolism: The buffalo is considered a sacred animal in many Native American cultures, representing strength, abundance, and gratitude. In shamanism, the buffalo drum is believed to connect the shaman with the spirit world and provide protection during healing ceremonies.

Use in Shamanic Journeying: Buffalo drums are commonly used by shamans during shamanic journeying to invoke a trance-like state and connect with the unseen realms. The deep and steady rhythm of the drum helps to induce a meditative state of mind, allowing the shaman to access different states of consciousness.

Caring for Your Buffalo Drum: To maintain the quality and longevity of your buffalo drum, it’s important to care for it properly. Keep it in a dry place away from direct sunlight, and use a leather conditioner to keep the hide supple. When playing the drum, avoid using too much force and use a soft mallet or drumstick to avoid damaging the drumhead.

Buffalo drums are a powerful tool for spiritual healing and ceremony, with their deep and rich sound and symbolic connection to the buffalo. Whether you’re a shamanic practitioner or simply drawn to the spiritual significance of the drum, a buffalo drum can be a valuable addition to your practice.

Inca Drums

Inca drums, also known as “tinyas,” are a type of frame drum traditionally used by the Inca people of South America for shamanic rituals and ceremonies. These drums were typically made from a base of clay or wood and had a drumhead made from animal hide or plant fibers.

One interesting feature of Inca drums is their unique shape. Unlike traditional circular frame drums, Inca drums were shaped like a trapezoid or rectangle. This distinct shape is said to represent the Incan worldview, which valued the four cardinal directions and the elements of earth, water, air, and fire.

In addition to their unique shape, Inca drums also had intricate designs carved into the drumhead and body. These designs often depicted animals, geometric patterns, or religious symbols, and were considered important for both aesthetic and spiritual reasons.

Some of the most common animals depicted on Inca drums include the condor, puma, and serpent. Each of these animals held symbolic meaning in Incan culture. For example, the condor represented the heavens and the puma represented the earth, while the serpent symbolized the underworld.

While there are many different types of drums used in shamanism, the Inca drum holds a special place in the history and culture of South America. Its unique shape and intricate designs make it a beloved cultural artifact, and it continues to be used in shamanic ceremonies to this day. If you’re interested in exploring the world of shamanic drumming, consider adding an Inca drum to your collection.

Daf Drums

The Daf drum is a percussion instrument that is commonly used in Middle Eastern and Central Asian music. It is a large frame drum that is played with the hands and is noteworthy for its rich low-end sound. In fact, the word “daf” means “low”, referring to the deep resonance produced by the drum.

Design: The Daf drum is typically made of hardwood and has a frame that is between 14-20 inches in diameter and 2-3 inches in depth. The drumhead is traditionally made of goat or sheepskin and is stretched tightly across the frame. It usually has many small metal rings or cymbals (zils) attached to the inside surface, which produce a bright, jingly sound when the drum is played.
Technique: To play the Daf, the musician holds the drum horizontally in front of them and strikes the edge of the drumhead with their hands, fingers, or palm in various rhythmic patterns. The cymbals on the inside of the drum produce a sharp, metallic sound that adds to the overall impact of the music. Skilled players can produce a range of tones and effects by varying their hand position, finger placement, and striking technique.
Use in Shamanism: The Daf drum holds great significance in Sufi traditions and is often played during ecstatic religious ceremonies for its ability to induce trance-like states. It is thought to have healing properties and can be used as a tool for meditation and introspection. It is also commonly used in folk music and dance, as well as in more contemporary styles.
Similar Instruments: The Daf is similar to other frame drums found in different world cultures, such as the Irish bodhrán, the Indian dholak, and the Egyptian tabla. However, the unique combination of a large frame, cymbals, and striking technique sets it apart from these other drums.

The Daf drum is a versatile and expressive instrument that has been used for centuries in spiritual and cultural contexts. Its deep, resonant sound and bright cymbal accents make it a captivating addition to any musical ensemble and an excellent choice for anyone interested in exploring the world of percussion.

Doumbek Drums

Doumbek drums, also known as darbuka or goblet drums, are a type of percussion instrument that has a goblet or vase-shaped body with a single head. These drums originated from the Middle East and are commonly used in traditional Middle Eastern music.

Doumbek drums have a distinct sound that is sharp and crisp, and they are typically played with bare hands or with the help of drumsticks. These drums come in a variety of sizes and are often made using different materials such as ceramic, metal, and wood.

The design of a doumbek drum is simple yet effective. The bottom half of the drum has a wide base that tapers up into a smaller neck. The narrow neck of the doumbek drum leads to a wider drumhead with a rim. This drum design allows for a variety of different sounds to be created, depending on where the drum is struck.

One of the reasons that doumbek drums have become popular in shamanic ceremonies is due to the rhythmic patterns that can be played on them. The repetitive beats of the doumbek drum can help to induce trance-like states in participants, leading to a deeper sense of relaxation and mental clarity.

If you are looking to purchase a doumbek drum for shamanic ceremonies or personal use, there are a few things to consider. First, think about the material that the drum is made from. If you are looking for a more traditional sound, consider a ceramic or metal doumbek drum. If you are looking for a more modern sound, a wooden doumbek drum might be a better option.

Additionally, consider the size and weight of the drum. A larger doumbek drum will typically have a deeper sound, but may be more difficult to transport. Conversely, a smaller doumbek drum will be easier to transport but may not have the same depth of sound.

Finally, think about the drumming accessories that you will need. Many doumbek drummers use drumming pads to protect their hands, as well as tuning keys to adjust the tension on the drumhead.

Doumbek drums are a popular choice for shamanic ceremonies due to their unique sound and ability to induce trance-like states in participants. With careful consideration of the material, size, and accessories, you can find the perfect doumbek drum for your needs.

Native American Drums

Native American drums are perhaps the most well-known type of shamanic drum. These drums are traditionally made with a wooden frame and a drumhead made of animal hide, typically deer or elk. The drumhead is attached to the frame with sinew or rawhide lacing.

These drums are often decorated with intricate designs that reflect the cultural and spiritual beliefs of the Native American people. The designs can be painted, burned, or etched into the drumhead or frame.

Native American drums are an integral part of many spiritual and cultural ceremonies, including powwows, sweat lodges, and vision quests. The sound of the drum is believed to connect the participant to the heartbeat of the earth and the rhythms of nature. The steady beat of the drum is said to facilitate trance states and induce a sense of deep relaxation and healing.

The size and shape of the drum can vary depending on the intended use and the cultural traditions of the tribe. Some drums are small and portable, while others are large and require more than one person to play.

When choosing a Native American drum, it’s important to consider the cultural and spiritual significance of the drum. It’s also important to choose a drum that is well-made, with a tight drumhead and sturdy frame. Proper care and maintenance of the drum will help ensure its longevity and effectiveness in shamanic practice.

African Djembe Drums

African Djembe drums are one of the most recognizable and iconic types of percussion instruments in the world. Originating in West Africa, these drums have been used for centuries in traditional ceremonies and gatherings, as well as in contemporary musical settings.

Here are some key characteristics and features of African Djembe drums:

– Shape: Djembe drums have a distinctive hourglass shape, with a rounded bowl-like base and a narrow neck. The drumheads are typically made from goatskin or other animal hides, and are secured to the top of the drum using rope or cord.

– Sound: The sound of a Djembe drum is loud, deep, and resonant, with a wide range of tonal variations depending on how and where the drum is struck. The drum can produce a range of sounds, from sharp and staccato to long sustained notes, and can be tuned to produce specific pitches.

– Construction: Djembe drums are generally handcrafted using traditional techniques, with the drumheads stretched and secured by hand. The drums are made from a variety of woods, including African hardwoods such as mahogany or iroko.

– Cultural significance: In many West African cultures, the Djembe drum is considered a sacred instrument with deep spiritual significance. It is often used in traditional ceremonies and rituals, including healing ceremonies, dances, and religious ceremonies.

– Contemporary use: In addition to its traditional cultural use, the Djembe drum has also become popular in contemporary music and drumming circles around the world. It is often used in world music and fusion styles, as well as in more mainstream genres such as rock and pop.

African Djembe drums are a powerful and versatile instrument with deep cultural and spiritual significance. Whether played in a traditional or contemporary context, these drums are sure to make a compelling and memorable impact.

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The Significance of Drum Design and Materials

The design and materials of a shamanic drum play a significant role in the sound, energy, and intention of the drum. Here are some important factors to consider:

The type of animal hide or skin used to make the drum determines the sound and energy of the instrument. For example, elk hide has a deeper, richer tone than deer hide, which is slightly higher and brighter. Buffalo hides are often used for larger, deeper-sounding drums. Horse hide is also a popular choice, known for its bright, sharp sound.

The hoop of the drum can also be made of different types of woods, which can affect the sound resonance and the energy of the drum. Maple is a popular choice for hoops, as it is a hardwood that is strong and durable. Ash is also a common choice, known for its flexibility and elasticity, which can help to create a more resonant sound. Birch is another popular option, known for its lightness and responsiveness.

The tension of the drumhead is also important to consider when selecting a shamanic drum. The tighter the drumhead, the higher the pitch and volume of the drum. Loose drumheads produce lower tones, while tight drumheads produce higher, sharper sounds. It’s important to find the right balance between tension and tone that feels comfortable and intuitive.

The appearance of the drum can also serve as an important aspect of its energy and intention. Some drums may be decorated with symbolic imagery or spiritual motifs, which can help to connect the drum with a particular energy or intention. Other decorative elements may include beading or feathers, which can give the drum a more ceremonial or ritualistic feel.

It’s important to keep in mind that each drum is unique, and the combination of animal hide, hoop wood, tension, and decor will create a distinct sound and energy. By considering these factors, you can choose a shamanic drum that

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resonates with you on a deeper level.

Types of Animal Hides and Skins Used

Shamanic drums are traditionally made using animal hides and skins. The most common hides used are goat, cow, and deer, but other animals like elk, moose, and horse may also be used. Different animal hides and skins have unique textures, thicknesses, and tones, making each drum unique in sound and feel. For example, buffalo hides are known for producing a deep and resonant sound, while deer hides create a lighter and brighter tone. The use of animal hides and skins adds a powerful and sacred element to the creation of shamanic drums, connecting the drum to the natural world and the spirits. It’s important to note that many shamanic practitioners now choose to use synthetic materials for ethical and sustainability reasons.

Wood Types for the Hoop

When choosing a shamanic drum, it’s important to consider the wood type used for the hoop. The hoop is the circular frame that holds the drumhead, and it can greatly affect the tone and resonance of the drum.

1. Maple wood: This is a popular choice for drum hoops due to its durability, stability, and ability to produce a bright, clear tone. Maple is also resistant to warping and cracking, making it a long-lasting option.

2. Oak wood: Oak is a dense and heavy wood that produces a deep, rich tone. It’s often used for bass drums or larger shamanic drums.

3. Ash wood: Ash wood is known for its flexibility and resilience, making it a good choice for shamanic drums that require a lot of tension on the drumhead. It produces a bright, clear tone with lots of high-end frequencies.

4. Cherry wood: Cherry is a softer wood that produces a warm, mellow tone. It’s often used for smaller shamanic drums or those meant for more intimate ceremonies.

5. Cedar wood: Cedar is a lightweight wood that produces a warm, mellow tone with plenty of resonance. It’s also known for its aromatic qualities, and is often used for shamanic drums meant for healing ceremonies.

When selecting the wood type for your shamanic drum hoop, consider the tone you’re looking for, the size of the drum, and the intended use. Keep in mind that the hoop is a crucial component of the drum and can greatly affect its overall sound and performance.

Drumhead Tensioning

Drumhead tensioning is a critical factor that affects the sound and playability of a shamanic drum. To create a balanced and resonant sound, the drumhead needs to be tensioned tightly across the hoop. However, it’s important not to over-tension the drumhead as this can cause damage to the skin and affect the sound quality.

There are different methods of drumhead tensioning, each with its own advantages and limitations. One common method is to use lacing or rope to tighten the drumhead by pulling both ends towards the center of the drum. This method creates an even tension across the drumhead and allows for fine adjustments in tuning. Another method is to use metal hardware such as screws or bolts to adjust the tension. This method is precise and durable, but it can also create stress points on the skin and affect the overall sound quality of the drum.

When tensioning a shamanic drum, it’s important to consider the type of skin used, as different skins have different stretching capacities. For example, cowhide is often used for shamanic drums, as it has a strong yet elastic nature that allows for good tension and tone. However, deer or elk skin is also an excellent choice, as it is more pliable and can result in a softer, more subtle sound.

It’s also important to note that the weather can affect drumhead tensioning. Changes in temperature or humidity can cause the skin to expand or contract, affecting the tuning of the drum. It’s recommended to store and play the drum in a consistent environment and to allow the drumhead to acclimate to its surroundings before playing.

Drumhead tensioning is a crucial aspect of shamanic drum building, affecting the sound and feel of the instrument. The method, skin type, and environmental factors all play a role in achieving the right tension and tone for your shamanic drum. Taking the time to properly tension and care for your drum can enhance your playing experience and ensure its longevity.

Decorative Elements

The decorative elements of a shamanic drum can hold great significance and meaning. These details can include intricate artwork, carvings, and symbols that are spiritually significant to the shaman or the tradition from which the drum originates. These decorative elements are not just for aesthetic purposes, they hold deep spiritual meaning and can aid in the shamanic journey or ceremony.

One common decorative element found on shamanic drums are animal totems. These totems typically represent a spiritual guide or protector, and are often a powerful symbol of strength and resilience. Other decorative elements may include geometric patterns, symbols of the natural world such as trees or the sun, or even depictions of spiritual beings.

When choosing a shamanic drum, it’s important to consider not only the decorative elements, but also the symbolism behind them. Each element should hold personal significance and align with the intention of the shamanic journey or ceremony. Additionally, the placement of these decorative elements on the drum can also hold importance, as they can guide the shaman’s journey or provide a focal point for meditation.

The materials used for decorative elements can also hold importance. Some shamanic drums are adorned with feathers, which can represent the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. Other drums may have crystals or gemstones embedded into the wood or leather, which can aid in energy healing and provide a higher vibration to the sound of the drum.

The decorative elements on a shamanic drum are a vital component of its spiritual significance and should be carefully chosen with intention. These elements are not just for decoration, but hold deep symbolism and spiritual meaning that can aid in shamanic journey or ceremony. When choosing a shamanic drum, it’s important to consider the materials, placement, and symbolism behind these elements to ensure a meaningful and powerful experience.

How to Choose the Right Shamanic Drum for You

How To Choose The Right Shamanic Drum For You
Choosing the Right Shamanic Drum for You

If you’re interested in incorporating drumming into your spiritual and healing practices, choosing the right shamanic drum can be a daunting task. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

Your Cultural and Ancestral Roots It can be powerful to choose a drum that resonates with your cultural or ancestral background. Researching the historical drums of your lineage can be a meaningful way to connect with your heritage.
Your Intended Use Consider how you plan to use your shamanic drum. Are you using it for personal healing and spiritual growth, group ceremonies, or performance? Different drums may serve different purposes and offer unique qualities.
Drum Size and Weight It’s important to choose a drum that feels comfortable and manageable in your hands. Consider the size and weight of the drum, as well as the length and width of the drumstick.
Your Budget Shamanic drums can vary in price depending on their size, materials, and craftsmanship. Set a budget for yourself and research different options within your price range.
Drumming Accessories Think about whether you’ll need any additional accessories for your drumming practice, such as a drum bag for transport, a drum stand for performance, or a drum beater.

By considering these factors, you can more confidently choose a shamanic drum that feels aligned with your personal spirituality and goals. Remember to listen to your intuition and choose a drum that speaks to you on a deeper level.

Your Cultural and Ancestral Roots

When choosing a shamanic drum, it’s important to consider your cultural and ancestral roots. Some drums have specific cultural or spiritual significance, so it’s worth researching before making a purchase. For example, Native American drums are often made with hides from elk, deer, or buffalo and are used in Native American spiritual ceremonies. African djembe drums are traditionally made with African hardwoods and goat skin, and are used in African tribal music and spiritual practices. Consider exploring your own cultural heritage and traditions, and finding a drum that resonates with your personal connection to those roots. You may also want to consider making your own drum, using traditional methods and materials from your cultural background.

Your Intended Use

When choosing a shamanic drum, it’s essential to consider what your intended use is. Are you going to use it for healing, journeying, meditation, or ceremony? Different styles of drums may be better suited for different purposes, and it’s vital to choose a drum that aligns with your needs.

For healing purposes, drums with a deep sound are often preferred as they create a vibrational frequency that can help relax the body and mind and promote healing. For journeying, a lighter drum with a higher pitch may be more suitable as it can help induce an altered state of consciousness.

If you plan to use a drum for meditation, you may want to choose one with a mellow and soothing sound that can help you relax and focus on your breath. For ceremonies, larger drums with a resonant sound may be ideal as they can create a powerful and transformative experience.

Consider your intended use carefully, and consult with experienced shamanic practitioners or drum makers to help you choose a drum that best meets your needs. It’s essential to select a drum that resonates with you and that you feel a connection to so that you can use it effectively for your intended purposes.

Drum Size and Weight

When choosing a shamanic drum, one important factor to consider is its size and weight. The size and weight of a drum can greatly affect the sound that it produces, as well as its portability and ease of use.

Size: Shamanic drums can range in size from as small as 8 inches to as large as 36 inches in diameter. Smaller drums tend to produce higher-pitched tones, while larger drums produce deeper, more resonant tones. The size of the drum may also affect the volume of the sound it produces.

Weight: The weight of a shamanic drum can also impact its sound and portability. Lighter drums are generally easier to carry and handle, but they may produce a softer sound. Heavier drums can produce a louder sound, but they may be more difficult to hold and transport.

It is important to take into consideration the intended use of the drum when selecting its size and weight. For example, a smaller, lighter drum may be ideal for outdoor ceremonies where mobility is important. A larger, heavier drum may be more appropriate for indoor healing sessions where volume is desired.

Here’s a comparison table of different shamanic drum sizes and weights:

Drum Size Drum Weight
8-14 inches Less than 2 pounds
18-20 inches 2-4 pounds
22-24 inches 4-6 pounds
28-30 inches 6-10 pounds
36 inches 10-15 pounds

Ultimately, the size and weight of a shamanic drum comes down to personal preference, as well as the intended use and setting in which the drum will be played. It is important to choose a drum that feels comfortable to play and produces the desired sound for your specific shamanic practice.

Your Budget

Your Budget is an important factor to consider when choosing a shamanic drum. The price range for these drums can vary greatly, depending on factors such as size, materials, and craftsmanship.

Here are some things to keep in mind when considering your budget:

Factor Cost Range
Size of Drum $50 – $500+
Materials Used $50 – $500+
Craftsmanship $50 – $1000+
Total Cost $150 – $2000+

When setting a budget, it’s important to consider the intended use of the drum. If you’re looking for a drum for personal use, a lower-priced option may be suitable. If you plan on using the drum for ceremonies or performances, investing in a higher-quality, more expensive drum may be worth it.

Another factor to consider is the cultural significance of the drum. Some drums, such as Native American drums, are considered sacred and may be handmade by members of the tribe. These drums may be more expensive due to their cultural significance and the time and skill required to make them.

It’s also worth researching different vendors and shops to find the best deals and quality. Online marketplaces, such as Etsy and Amazon, offer a wide variety of shamanic drums at various price points. Local craft fairs and markets may also have vendors selling handcrafted drums.

Ultimately, your budget will determine the options available to you. However, it’s important to prioritize the quality and cultural significance of the drum over simply choosing the cheapest option available. Remember, a shamanic drum is not just a musical instrument, but a powerful tool for healing and ceremony.

Drumming Accessories

When it comes to drumming for shamanic practice or ceremony, drumming accessories can elevate your experience. One essential accessory is a drumstick or beater, which is used to strike the drumhead and produce the desired sound. Drumsticks come in various materials such as wood, rubber, or even bone, and can have different densities and lengths. It’s essential to choose a drumstick that feels comfortable in your hand and produces the right sound for your desired effect.

Another crucial accessory is a drum bag or case, which can help protect your drum during transport. Drum bags come in various sizes and materials, such as padded fabric or leather, and may have additional pockets for storing accessories like drumsticks or tuning keys. Consider investing in a high-quality drum bag to protect your drum investment.

A drum strap or harness can also be beneficial, especially for larger drums that can be challenging to hold for extended periods. Drum straps can be made of leather, fabric, or synthetic materials, and come in various styles, such as single or double slings. Some straps even have additional pockets for storing accessories like tuning keys or water bottles.

Tuning keys are another accessory that can be useful for maintaining your Shamanic drum’s sound. Tuning keys are used to adjust the drumhead tension and can be purchased separately or included with your drum purchase. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when tuning your drum to avoid damaging the drumhead or the drum’s frame.

Finally, consider accessorizing your Shamanic drum with decorative elements like feathers, beads, or animal fur. These decorative elements can add a personal touch to your drum and make it unique to you. However, make sure to research any cultural or spiritual significance attached to these elements before using them on your drum.

Choosing the right drumming accessories can enhance your Shamanic drumming experience. Consider investing in a high-quality drum bag or case, a comfortable drum strap or harness, tuning keys, and personal decorative elements. Experimenting with different drumming accessories can help you personalize your drumming practice and connect more deeply with the Shamanic tradition.

Caring for Your Shamanic Drum

Proper storage and handling of your shamanic drum can help prolong its lifespan. Store your drum in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. When handling your drum, avoid touching the drumhead with your hands, as oils from your skin can damage the hide. Instead, hold the drum by the hoop or use drumsticks to play.

Seasoning your drum refers to the process of treating the hide to enhance its sound and durability. This can be done with a mixture of natural oils, such as neatsfoot oil or mink oil, applied to the drumhead and left to soak in for several hours. Be sure to wipe off any excess oil and allow the drum to dry completely before playing.

Changes in temperature and humidity can affect the sound and condition of your shamanic drum. Avoid exposing your drum to extreme temperatures or high humidity levels, which can cause the hide to stretch or shrink and warp the drum’s shape. If the weather is particularly dry, you can lightly spray the drumhead with water to help maintain its moisture.

Repairing Your Drum

With frequent use, your shamanic drum may need some repairs. This can include re-tensioning the drumhead, repairing any cracks in the hoop, or replacing broken drumsticks. If you’re not comfortable making these repairs yourself, it’s best to take your drum to a professional to ensure it’s properly repaired without causing further damage.

Cleaning Your Drum

Keeping your shamanic drum clean can help maintain its appearance and prevent the buildup of dirt and debris. You can use a soft, dry cloth to wipe down the drumhead and remove any excess dust or particles. Avoid using water or cleaning products, as this can damage the hide and affect the drum’s sound. If your drum is particularly dirty, you can try using a soft brush to brush away any debris.

Caring for your shamanic drum is an important part of ensuring its longevity and maintaining its sound quality. Follow these tips and techniques to keep your drum in great shape for years to come.

Storage and Handling

Proper storage and handling of your shamanic drum is crucial for its longevity and effectiveness. When not in use, it’s best to keep the drum in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or extreme temperatures. Store the drum in a protective case or cover it with a cloth to prevent dust and debris from settling on the surface. It’s important to handle the drum with care, avoiding any rough treatment or sharp objects that could damage the drumhead and cause it to lose its sound quality. When transporting the drum, use a padded carrying case to prevent any bumps or scratches. Remember, your shamanic drum is a sacred tool and deserves to be treated with respect and reverence.

Seasoning Your Drum

Seasoning your drum is an important step in caring for your shamanic drum. This process involves preparing the drumhead for optimal sound and resonance. Here are some steps to properly season your drum:

1. Start by soaking the drumhead in warm water for a few hours. This helps to soften the hide and make it more pliable. You can also add a small amount of vegetable oil to the water to help moisturize the hide.

2. Using a soft cloth, gently wipe away any excess water or oil from the drumhead. Be sure to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on the surface.

3. Apply a thin layer of natural oil to the surface of the drumhead. Be sure to use a type of oil that is safe for use on animal hides, such as neatsfoot oil or mink oil. This will help to condition the hide and protect it from drying out.

4. Using your hands or a soft mallet, gently tap the surface of the drumhead to help work the oil into the hide. This will also help to stretch the hide and create a more resonant sound.

5. Allow the drum to dry completely before playing it. This may take several hours or even a day or two, depending on the climate in your area.

6. Once the drum is dry, test it by playing a few simple rhythms. If the sound is not to your liking, repeat the seasoning process until you achieve the desired sound.

Remember to always use natural oils when seasoning your drum, as harsh chemicals can damage the hide and affect the sound quality. Additionally, avoid exposing your drum to extreme temperatures or humidity, as this can also affect the sound. With proper care and maintenance, your shamanic drum will provide you with many years of beautiful music and spiritual connection.

Weather Concerns

Weather conditions can have a significant impact on the quality and lifespan of your shamanic drum. Extreme temperatures, humidity, and moisture can cause the drumhead to stretch or contract, affecting its sound and tone. It is important to take appropriate measures to protect your drum from harsh weather conditions.


Drums should not be exposed to extreme temperatures as they can cause the drumhead to become brittle, leading to cracks and breakage. The ideal temperature range for storing and using your drum is between 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid leaving your drum in areas with high heat or in direct sunlight.


High humidity can cause drumheads to stretch and lose tension, leading to an altered sound. Low humidity can cause the drumhead to become brittle and crack. To maintain the optimal humidity for your drum, store it in a dry and cool place. Use a dehumidifier or humidifier if necessary.


Moisture can gradually damage the drum’s frame and cause the drumhead to sag or loosen. Avoid exposing the drum to water or storing it in damp areas. Always use a soft cloth to wipe down the drum after use to remove any moisture.

Protective Measures

To protect your shamanic drum from harsh weather conditions, consider investing in a protective cover or storage case. A cover made of heavy-duty material can shield your drum from any potential damage. If you need to travel with your drum, make sure to prepare it properly for transport. Place it in a padded bag or case and avoid exposing it to any extreme weather conditions during transport.

By considering the weather conditions, you can ensure the longevity and quality of your shamanic drum, and continue to use it for years to come.


In conclusion, drums have been an important tool in shamanism for wellness and ceremony. They provide a rhythmic beat that can help the user to enter a meditative state, which is essential for connecting with the spirit world. Moreover, different types of drums, such as frame drums, bodhrans, water drums, box drums, slit drums, talking drums, buffalo drums, Inca drums, daf drums, doumbek drums, Native American drums, and African djembe drums, are used by shamans all over the world. Each type of drum has its own unique sound and vibration that can facilitate different types of healing and ceremonies.

When choosing a shamanic drum, various factors should be considered, such as the cultural and ancestral roots that you associate with, intended use, size and weight, and budget. Additionally, it is important to maintain your drum properly, taking into account factors such as storage and handling, seasoning, and weather concerns.

Overall, shamanic drums are an important tool for personal and professional use, helping to connect individuals with their inner selves as well as with the spirit world. By understanding the different types of shamanic drums available and the significance of their design and materials – from types of animal hides and skins used, to wood types for the hoop, drumhead tensioning and decorative elements – users can make an informed decision when choosing the right drum for their needs. With proper care and maintenance, the drum will become a valued possession and an incredible tool in their spiritual journey.

In Closing

The world of shamanism and drumming is vast, and the types of drums used for ceremonies and healing are just as diverse. From frame drums to djembe drums, each type of drum has a unique sound and cultural significance. When choosing the right shamanic drum for you, consider factors such as your cultural and ancestral roots, intended use, size and weight, and budget.

Additionally, caring for your shamanic drum is essential to ensure it lasts for years to come. Proper storage and handling, seasoning, and consideration of weather conditions are all crucial elements to maintaining the health of your drum.

Whether you are new to the world of shamanism and drumming or a seasoned practitioner, it’s important to remember the benefits of drumming for your health and well-being. The rhythmic beat of a drum can help reduce stress, improve focus and concentration, and even enhance creativity.

So, take your time in choosing the right shamanic drum for you, and remember to care for it with love and attention. Your drum will be there to support and guide you on your shamanic journey towards healing and spiritual growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a frame drum and a bodhran?

While both are considered frame drums, a bodhran has a deeper frame and a single crossbar on the back. It also often has a goatskin head and is played with a tipper or beater.

What makes water drums unique?

Water drums, as the name suggests, have a water-filled chamber inside the drum that creates a unique sound when struck. They are often used in rainmaking ceremonies.

What are slit drums?

Slit drums are percussion instruments made from a hollowed-out log or wooden box with a long slit cut into the top. They are played by striking the surface near the slit to create a deep, resonant sound.

What is a talking drum?

A talking drum is a West African drum with an hourglass shape and two heads connected by cords. The tension on the cords can be adjusted to change the drum’s pitch, allowing it to “talk” and convey a range of tones and messages.

What is the significance of the animal hide used on a shamanic drum?

Many shamanic drums are made with animal hides, which are believed to contain the spirit of the animal and lend its power to the drum. Different animals are associated with different energies and traits, so the choice of hide can influence the intended use of the drum.

What is the purpose of seasoning a drum?

Seasoning a drum involves playing it regularly over time to help stretch and mold the skin, as well as imbue it with the player’s energy. This can improve the drum’s sound quality and resonance.

What accessories might be used when playing a shamanic drum?

Accessories for shamanic drums can include beaters, drum bags, and straps. Some drummers might also use rattles or other instruments in conjunction with the drum.

Are there any cultural considerations when choosing a shamanic drum?

Yes, it’s important to be respectful of the cultural traditions and practices associated with shamanic drumming. For example, some Native American tribes have specific protocols around the use of certain types of drums.

How can drumming benefit mental health?

Research has shown that drumming can have a range of health benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and even boosting the immune system. The repetitive rhythm of drumming is thought to help regulate brain waves and induce a state of relaxation.

What should I do if my shamanic drum gets wet?

If your drum gets wet, you should let it air dry slowly in a warm, dry place. Avoid exposing it to direct heat or sunlight, as this can cause the skin to crack or warp.


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