They are usually used for timekeeping, and to create a distinctive beat or rhythm for a piece of music, although they can be played melodically by a sufficiently skilled player. Drums are played by hitting them, either with sticks, a mallet, or the player's hands.
There are many kinds of drums. Sometimes groupings of them are assembled into drum kits, allowing the player access to several at once. These kits may also be augmented with other percussion instruments, especially cymbals.
Drums usually used in small combos
- Toms (usually two or three at different pitches)
Drums commonly found in orchestra or marching band settings
- Talking drum
- Bucket (an improvised, "found" instrument)