Drums are usually played by striking with the hand, or with one or two sticks. A wide variety of sticks are used, including wooden sticks and sticks with soft beaters of felt on the end. In jazz, some In many traditional cultures, drums have a symbolic function and are used in religious ceremonies. Drums are often used in music therapy, especially hand drums, because of their tactile nature and easy use by a wide variety of people.
Prior to the development of the drum set, drums and cymbals used in military and orchestral music settings were played separately by different percussionists; if the score called for bass drum, triangle and cymbals, three percussionists would be hired to play these three instruments. In the 1840s, percussionists began to experiment with foot pedals as a way to enable them to play more than one instrument, but these devices would not be mass-produced for another 75 years. By the 1860s, percussionists started combining multiple drums into a set. The bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, and other percussion instruments were all struck with hand-held drum sticks. Drummers in musical theater shows and stage shows, where the budget for pit orchestras was often limited, contributed to the creation of the drum set by developing techniques and devices that would enable them to cover the roles of multiple percussionists.
With rock and roll coming into place, a watershed moment occurred between 1962 and 1964 when the Surfaris released "Wipe Out", as well as when Ringo Starr of The Beatles played his Ludwig kit on American television. As rock moved from the nightclubs and bars and into stadiums in the 1960s, there was a trend towards bigger drum kits. The trend towards larger drum kits took momentum in the 1970s with the emergence of progressive rock. By the 1980s, widely popular drummers like Billy Cobham, Carl Palmer, Nicko McBrain, Phil Collins, Stewart Copeland, Simon Phillips and Neil Peart were using large numbers of drums and cymbals. In the 1980s, some drummers began to use electronic drums.
As well as providing an alternative to a conventional acoustic drum kit, electronic drums can be incorporated into an acoustic drum kit to supplement it. MIDI triggers can also be installed into acoustic drum and percussion instruments. Pads that can trigger a MIDI device can be homemade from a piezoelectric sensor and a practice pad or other piece of foam rubber.