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This military drum was developed in the 15th Century from earlier medieval drums. Usually played by boys - considered too young to fight - these drums were used during battles as a means of signalling to soldiers where the main body of the army was fighting. The drum has a painted wooden shell with calf or goat skin drum heads at either end. Unlike modern military drums, which use screw tensioners, the skins on the renaissance long drum are tensioned (made slacker or tighter) by rope slides which pull the wooden hoops at each end towards each other and thus stretch the skins over the body of the drum. Percussion from drums, tabors and timbrels is one of the most distinctive features of medieval and renaissance music.

Long Drum Sound Clips


play clip size: 149 kb


play clip size: 154 kb

Large printable image of the long drum

Text copyright © James McCafferty 2000 Photographic images copyright © John Credland and James McCafferty 2000