The Drumstick is simple in its original usage but is complex in its application to modern drumming. The two sticks that are held by players are a symbol of thousands of years of drumming. The drumstick has featured alongside massive changes to drumming since ancient times.
It can be assumed that hollow logs and other solid features were hit in the natural environment either by accident or on purpose to make a sound many thousands of years ago. The drumstick was most probably used from the very earliest days of using simple wooden shelled drums with skins made.
Native American Indians used drums regularly in ceremonies for thousands of years and hit many of their drums (like water drums) with sticks. Many variations of timpani and bronze style kettle drums were hit in ancient Hebrew from about 3500 BC.
Pejeng Moon is the largest cast bronze kettle drum in the world and is over two thousand years old. It can be found in Bali and is definite evidence that hitting implements were used thousands of years ago.
Chinese paintings depict drums being hit with sticks and mallets from the 10th century (Song Dynasty). However, the most definite evidence of drumsticks emerges from the 14th-century usage of the Tabor which was hit with drumsticks. The Tabor later evolved into the snare drum which has been hit by drumsticks in military bands and on the battlefield for thousands of years.
Drumstick variations began to speed up as early Jazz players wanted to find more expressive ways of using drums. Drumsticks of various weights were used to increase volume or produce lighter sounds by jazz musicians. Hitting implements such as mallets and brushes developed with the Jazz music although some of these hitting implements were already used in orchestras.
Over time different woods have been used to produce drumsticks such as hickory, maple, and oak. Drumsticks are also made from metal, carbon fiber and other materials. It is now common to see modern drummers using differently sized drumsticks during one show or even one piece of music. The usage of drumsticks is a mixture of the player’s preference as well as the songs feel and volume requirements.
There is evidence that drums were hit with various implements for thousands of years. However, it is impossible to know when sticks became widely used by the ancients. It is possible that some of the earliest humans were experimenting with drum-like sounds. The evolution of sticks increased with the early jazz and as rock music experimented with different sounds.