Home Curiosity Why Does Drumming Have Such a Powerful Effect on Human Beings?

Why Does Drumming Have Such a Powerful Effect on Human Beings?


Good drumming can literally move you. Why is it that drums have such a primal and powerful effect on human bodies? Learn more here.

Americans spend more than 26 hours a week listening to music. 

The most popular genres of music are hip-hop, pop, and rock music. All three genres share one thing in common, they all feature drumming. Rhythm is incredibly important to modern music, and it always has been. 

The importance of drumming within music is not new. The value of rhythm was known even in the ancient world. 

Drums were among the very first instruments invented. Drums helped ancient peoples in many ways. Oral histories were even learned and recited using rhythm to pass down knowledge to the next generation.

Now we have books, but drums remain vital to our musical experience. Drums aren’t just good for music. Drums are good for people. Rhythm and timing do a lot for your brain. Drums can help us figure out how to dance and make us feel better. 

What Do Drums Do for Us?

The first thing that drums do is help us mark time. 

When you nod your head up and down to a song you are keeping time with that song. Musicians learn to count these beats. This way a musician can always know where they are in a song and what comes next.

Drums have historically been great for sending signals. Different beats and rhythms are easy for our brains to distinguish. Because we can ‘feel’ rhythms instead of just hearing them, messages could be sent over reasonable distances. 

Organizing marching troops or marking significant points in celebrations are all ways drums have helped humanity out in the past. 

The effect of drums remains strong on us today. Rhythm is a universal constant in music. Every type of popular music has featured rhythm. This is true of classical music, rock music and the rap beats of today. 

A Long History of Humans and Drums

Humanity has been enjoying drums for thousands of years. Music has been an important part of how societies develop and see themselves. From religious ceremonies to epic poems and theater music has helped shape our world. 

As humans, we have developed hand in hand with drums and rhythm. Sharing in the experience of a good song that has a strong rhythm helps build bonds. Tribal groups of humans since prehistory have used rhythm and music in order to tell the histories of their people. 

Drums were helping teach us about our past before books were invented. Even the earliest books we have, such as the Iliad by Homer, were based on poems. These poems were intended to be shared using specific rhythms. 

When engaged in physical activity drums have always been used to help. Coordinating efforts on ships and in everyday life was vital to our exploration and survival. Cadences have been used to do everything from pound wool to hoist a sail.

Drumming and Our Brains

Drumming can make you smarter

Playing specific rhythms and keeping time helps synchronize our brain. Drumming activates the right and left hemispheres of our brain simultaneously. This helps our brain be more focused. 

Drumming also stimulates our brains to release chemicals. These chemicals are called endorphins. Endorphins help us feel better and can combat depression. They can even increase our pain threshold. 

When multiple people listen to the same rhythm it builds a connection between them. This connection can be powerful. This shared connection is often based on the rhythm that we hear.  

The Power of Rhythm in Our Lives

It isn’t just drumming that has benefits. 

People have been using rhythms to teach themselves for a long time. Auditory learning is the way in which many people develop new skills better. Using rhythms and sound to teach and learn is a method as old as humanity. 

Our brain detects certain cues that make it easier to understand the world around us. Rhythm and drumming play into that. This is why you can remember the rhythm of a song you have forgotten the words to. 

Rhythm is also found in almost every aspect of modern life. 

From the sound of appliances to vehicles, people detect rhythms everywhere. You know what cycle your washer is on by how it sounds and the pulsing it makes. You know what kind of music you are listening to by the beats they use. 

How Rhythm and Drumming Can Help Us

Brainwave entrainment music is a growing field of study. Using rhythms and pulses to help your brain think and act in different ways. The music we listen to and the rhythms we here even have an effect on our brain waves. 

Listening to specific rhythms and sounds can help improve your mood. 

Rhythm can aid in your concentration when focused on a task. The effectiveness of this approach has been scientifically proven. In the words of Huey Louis, “It’s got a backbeat you can’t lose it”. 

No Matter What We Are Tied to Rhythm

As a species, we have evolved to use auditory and visual triggers. Almost every language on Earth is based on sound. We use the tempo, cadence, and inflection of sound to inform others of our meaning. 

Words alone are only one part of language. 

All of these cues give us context that we use to better understand each other. Without the ability to understand rhythm you would not be able to effectively communicate. Even people who do not think they have any rhythm use it all the time. 

It’s Not About Musical Talent

Whether you are listening or playing music the benefits of drumming and rhythm on your brain are clear. You do not have to be a performing artist to experience these benefits. Even if you can’t play a single instrument the effect of rhythm on your brain and body is constant. 

All humanity shares this connection with rhythm and drumming. It speaks to us in a primal sense that hasn’t faded in all our time on Earth. 

Tapping into that connection can have important and positive consequences for us. The next time you hear a song, don’t resist the urge. Do what your ancestors did for thousands of years and tap along with it.  

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