Monkey drums are made all around the world, we have ones from Africa, Peru and South America. They are great gifts for kids aged 3+ and adults who are looking to make ethnic sounds/recordings but how do you actually play it? It is simple.
1. Hold the bottom of the stick handle with two hands flat.
2. Slowly twist the stick around the palm of your hand, putting your left hand forward, right hand back. Then again the opposite way around with your left hand backwards, and your right hand forward. This will cause the stringed beads or wood to hit the body base of the monkey drum paddle. Actually making sound from it is the easy part, it is the rhythm that brings the challenges.
3. You should keep practising and try to keep a steady beat, counting 1, 2, 3, 4, (repeat) until you are confidently making the sound on each beat.
Whilst there are many designs of monkey drum, usually, the way to play stays the same, it is only the sound that varies depending upon the materials used, the size and weight of the strikers. I gave my son a Kenyan monkey drum for his birthday and he always picks it up out of his toy box and has a go with a smile on his face. If you are interested in purchasing a monkey drum, take a look at our full range of monkey drums.
How to play a monkey drum video
Monkey drum: Frequently asked questions
Where did the monkey drum originate?
No one knows the exact history of where the monkey drum came from, however it is likely that it was invented in Africa. The musical instrument in Africa is known as damassas and despite its uses as a musical instrument it is very popular as a kids toy.
What are other variations of the monkey drum?
All around the world the monkey drum has different names and is used for rituals and ceremonies. For example, the Japanese monkey drum is known as the Den-den daiko which translates to the double-ended drum. it is often used in Shinto-buddhist ceremonies. Throughout East Asia, it is known as a pellet drum.
A bolanggu or (Bo Lang Gu 拨浪鼓) in Chinese which is referred to as rattle drum in English. It was invented to be used as a percussion instrument that would harmonise with other instruments to play music.
A monkey drum is a percussion musical instrument that is from the same family as the classic Tibetan damaru. The design is very similar and it is played the same way by twisting the wrist. A damaru differs because it doesn't have a stick handle and has adapted a barrel shape that resembles an hourglass instead of a flat paddle board. The monkey drum is also known as the noedo drum, rattle drum, pellet drum and they are a class of the membranophone family.
A similar instrument is called a sogo drum which is played for a speicfic genre in korean folk music. The Korean pellet drum is used to celebrate the lunar new year and hundreds of craft videos showing how to make it have been created.
Many people will remember this monkey drum from the 1984 Columbia Pictures movie: The Karate Kid - it is a treasured drum that was handed down to character Daniel LaRusso from his karate sensei Mr Miyagi. It just so happens that we sell a monkey drum that is very similar to the original that was used in the film.
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