What Kind of Drum Would the Little Drummer Boy Have Used?

Someone on Facebook today asked,

Why does every version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ use a snare drum? I’m pretty sure they didn’t have snare drums back then. And that a snare drum would make a baby cry. Maybe a little native lap drum covered with animal hide, played gently? Or are we carrying the baby into the Battle of Gettysburg?

So right! Now, obviously, the Little Drummer Boy is a made up story, but let’s just say it were true. If it were true, what kind of drum would the drummer boy have? So I tried to look it up. Turns out the question is bigger than I thought it would be! So let’s journey the question together.

My first thought is a hebrew drum, since Jesus was a Hebrew. What kinds of drums did Hebrews use?

TimbrelHere’s a common Hebrew drum called a Timbrel. These were common in Old Testament and New Testament times. You’ll notice it looks similar to the modern tambourine.

Then again, the song says, “I am a poor boy, too.” Which makes me think a drum like this was probably too expensive for a poor little boy. So let’s see about a poorer style. Maybe something without the timbrel bells…

Poor TimbrelOkay, I guess that works. This would be a common frame drum. Probably the best thing a Hebrew shepherd boy could get.

Nice.

But hang on, duh! The boy probably wasn’t a Hebrew at all. The song says, “Come, they told me, our finest gifts we bring.” He was tagging along with the wise men. Shoot. Start over…

Let’s see, so they’re from the east. Okay, ancient Asian drum.

Han Dynasty Bronze Drum

Here’s a bronze drum from the Han Dynasty period (about 200 BC to 200 AD).But let’s face it, no little boy is going to be able to carry this metal chunk across the desert.

Can we try a little lighter?

 

 

Chinese drumThis is a fun little asian drum, but still a little too posh for a poor boy.

 

 

 

Doumbek

This is the style of an ancient doumbek drum.These are from ancient Korea. Nice, but still a bit big for a little guy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DarbukaOkay, now we’re talking. This is in the same drum family, but called a miniature darbuka. Perfect for a little poor boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But before we decide conclusively, maybe we better double check to make sure the “east” referred to is Asia.

Quick search…

Okay, according to Wikipedia (the source of all truth… ahem… right), the wise men were more likely from Babylon, Persia, Yemen, Arabia, Pakistan, or India. Oh, man. Just to save us on time and effort, let’s assume that those places are close enough that we can find a common poor drum from a few of those areas, and assume it’s probably very similar to the drums you would find in the other areas. Okay… here we go.

Thappu-thumbHere’s an Indian thappu drum. Though I can’t be sure on how long these have been around, it looks basic enough that it may have been around at that time. I like how the leather wraps around the frame. It’s played with either two sticks, a big one and a small one, or by hand.

 

 

Hand-thappu

Here’s another view of the hand thappu.

 

 

 

 

DafHere’s a Persian drum called a Daf. It’s made of goat skin, and has rings inside to give it a little rattle as it’s played. This is probably the closest thing to a snare drum he might have. Though, again, being a poor boy, I’m guessing his wouldn’t have the rings.

 

 

 

 

pakdrum1Now this is one I can relate to. This is a frame drum from Pakistan, and looks, and likely sounds, similar to a Gaelic Bodhran. I have a bodhran. And though a little poor boy would have no problem carrying this wide frame drum, I’m guessing his would probably be a little smaller.

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan Frame drum

There. This is a simple Pakistan frame drum, and just for fun, it’s got a stick. You may notice this drum is almost identical to the Hebrew frame drum.

Poor TimbrelActually, simple frame drums are one of the most universal drums of this era, and would therefore probably be the cheapest, and the easiest for a little boy to carry and play.

Here’s a video of a small frame drum:

My guess is that if there was a little drummer boy, his drum would look and sound something like this.

 

 

 

Jeanette Isabella’s Torch

Jeanette Isabella’s Torch

My family has an annual Christmas Eve party that includes an opportunity to share a story, talent, song, thought, etc. This year, as part of it, we decided to do a “carol-off.” We choose a carol, and everyone do something based around the theme of that song. We chose Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella. We ended up with an Irish dance performance, a traditional piano/flute/French lyrics performance, a bowed-glass performance, and this recording of mine.

I didn’t want to post this before the party, because I couldn’t let the family see it yet. Now I can share it with everyone. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Chas

Christmas Album Coming Sooooooon!

Weeehaaawwww! Only a few weeks before my Christmas album will be up! The music has been done for awhile, but the image is finally done! What do you think? Does it make you want to put up your Christmas tree today? Hopefully it at least makes you want to read the nativity story again. And just so you can see what songs will be on the album, I’m putting the back cover image on, too.

Christmas CD: Anthem of Hope

Anthem of Hope SAMPLE

I DID IT!!! I finished the whole CD in one month. In fact, I think I have more music than I can fit on one CD, so maybe I’ll have some bonus tracks for MP3 CD downloaders or something. I don’t know. Anyway. Here’s a sample of one of the original ones I did for the Christmas CD.

I’ll write a more detailed meaning behind the music deal, but basically it’s about the hope that was renewed with Jesus’s birth.

Again, it’s just a sample, but I hope you like it!

Christmas Sample: Sweet Little Jesus Boy

Jesus Boy SAMPLE

I couldn’t resist doing this one as a solo. The tune has such a lonely sound and feel about it, and the message is so intimate that I knew it would be best as a simple low flute solo.

Tribute: I Love You, Dad!

Lunch Bucket and Grandpa

talltab1If someone had asked me in grade school what my dad did, I would probably have told them that my dad is a fisherman.  I didn’t know what he did for work, but I did know that he was a fisherman in his free time.  It was his favorite pastime, and he was really good at it.  He didn’t much go for worm fishing, and he certainly was never big on plopping the line in the water and sitting back waiting for the line to pull.  Dad was a fly fisher.

talltab1He loved fishing the rivers, outsmarting the fish using strategy and skill rather than passive chance.  With fly fishing on a river, the fisher must cast the line upstream, getting the fly to float unsuspectingly over the best part of the fishing hole.
talltab1Dad also tied his own flies.  This was itself quite a skill, as it took the most precise thread-work.  He had a cool fly-tying kit, as well as materials for making flies, such as threads, feathers, animal fur, or whatever was necessary for the desired effect.  The idea is to emulate as close as possible the look of a real fly.  I remember him making Cadiss flies, Mayflies, and even ants and grasshoppers.

talltab1He still fly-fishes and makes his own flies today.

talltab1I remember one particular fishing trip when I was young where we Continue reading

Tribute: I Love You, Mom!

Tis the season to feel guilty,
falalalalaaaa-la-la-la-la.
Mourning that the house is filthy,
falalalalaaaa-la-la-la-la.
Screaming kids and lazy father,
falala-lalala-la-la-la.
Makes me wonder why I bother,
falalalala-la-la-la-laaaaa!

Now that mother’s day’s approaching,
falalalalaaaa-la-la-la-la.
Listen to the old-folks’ coaching,
falalalalaaaa-la-la-la-la.
Think of all your rotten mistakes
falala-lalala-la-la-la.
Work, and just ignore the back-aches
falalalala-la-la-la-laaaaa!

Spare me.

Every year I hear the wonderful things about mothers, and I love it, but every year I hear mothers complain because it makes them feel so terribly inadequate.
I think it’s sad that mothers hearing about how wonderful mothers are makes them feel guilty.  Of course they feel inadequate!  They’re are inadequate.
Has any mother really been adequate to Continue reading