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, in music

drum, in music, percussion instrument, known in various forms and played throughout the world and throughout history. Essentially a drum is a frame over which one or more membranes or skins are stretched. The frame is usually cylindrical or conical, but it comes in many other shapes. It acts as a resonator when the membrane is struck by the hand or by an implement, usually a stick or a whisk. The variety of tone and the volume of sound from a drum depend on the area, tension, and material of the membrane that is struck and, more particularly, on the skill of the player. The rhythmic effects of drum playing can be exceedingly complex, especially the intricate polyrhythmic arrangements of Asian and African cultures. The modern orchestra may have as many as five drums under one player, allowing an impressive range of tones. In Western music the kettledrum is of special importance. A metal bowl with a membrane stretched over the open side, it is the only drum that can be tuned to a definite pitch. It originated in Persia and spread throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe; it was later adapted into orchestral music. The kettledrum was formerly tuned by hand screws placed around the edge; now it can be tuned by a pedal mechanism. The bass drum, especially popular in military bands, is a huge wooden cylinder with a drumhead (membrane) on both ends. The snare drum (sometimes called the side drum) also has a drumhead at either end; across one end are stretched gut strings wound with wire. These strings rattle when the other end of the drum is beaten. The tenor drum is primarily used in military bands and is normally played with small felt sticks. The tambourine, known from Roman times, is a single-headed small drum, usually with jingles attached to the frame; it is shaken and struck by hand.


See R. S. Brindle, Contemporary Percussion (1970); J. Blades, Percussion Instruments and Their History (rev. ed. 1975).

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One of the cylinders of stone that form a column; a cylindrical or polygonal wall below a dome, often pierced with windows.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

What does it mean when you dream about a drum?

A drum can represent everything from primitive urges, to dance, to the rhythms of life, to entrepreneurialism (“drumming up business”), to ejection (being “drummed out of town”). As with all dream symbols, the tone and setting of the dream indicate which meaning is appropriate.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(chemical engineering)
Tower or vessel in a refinery into which heated products are conducted so that volatile portions can separate.
(design engineering)
A hollow, cylindrical container.
A metal cylindrical shipping container for liquids having a capacity of 12-110 gallons (45-416 liters).
A computer storage device consisting of a rapidly rotating cylinder with a magnetizable external surface on which data can be read or written by many read/write heads floating a few millionths of an inch off the surface. Also known as drum memory; drum storage; magnetic drum; magnetic drum storage.
(mechanical engineering)
A horizontal cylinder about which rope or wire rope is wound in a hoisting mechanism.
A hollow or solid cylinder or barrel that acts on, or is acted upon by, an exterior entity, such as the drum in a drum brake. Also known as hoisting drum.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. One of the cylinders of stone which form a column.
2. A round or polygonal wall below a dome, often pierced with windows.
3. The bell of Composite or Corinthian capitals.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Music a percussion instrument sounded by striking a membrane stretched across the opening of a hollow cylinder or hemisphere
2. the sound produced by a drum or any similar sound
3. Architect
a. one of a number of cylindrical blocks of stone used to construct the shaft of a column
b. the wall or structure supporting a dome or cupola
4. short for eardrum
5. any of various North American marine and freshwater sciaenid fishes, such as Equetus pulcher (striped drum), that utter a drumming sound
6. a type of hollow rotor for steam turbines or axial compressors
7. Computing a rotating cylindrical device on which data may be stored for later retrieval: now mostly superseded by disks


Scot, Irish a narrow ridge or hill
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Ancient slow, cylindrical magnetic media that were once state-of-the-art storage devices. Under BSD Unix the disk partition used for swapping is still called "/dev/drum"; this has led to considerable humour and not a few straight-faced but utterly bogus "explanations" getting foisted on newbies.

See also "The Story of Mel".
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

magnetic drum

An early high-speed, direct access storage device that used a magnetic-coated cylinder with tracks around its circumference. Each track had its own read/write head. Magnetic drums were used in the 1950s and 1960s.

A Magnetic Drum
This magnetic drum added additional storage to the Whirlwind computer in the early 1950s. (Image courtesy of The MITRE Corporation Archives.)
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