What is the Drum That Sounds Like the Sea?

If you’re looking for a musical instrument that captures the mesmerizing sounds of the sea, then the ocean drum is the perfect choice.

This unique percussion instrument, also known as a drum that sounds like the sea, is designed to mimic the soothing and rhythmic waves of the ocean.

The ocean drum, often called the drum of the sea sound, drum sound sea, or sea-like drum sound, was originally invented by the Indigenous Mayan people between 7000 B.C. and 2000 B.C.

Known initially as the geophone, it was later named the ocean drum due to its ability to create the serene sounds of the sea.

sound of the sea drum

Playing the ocean drum is a captivating experience. By rolling your wrists, the metal beads inside the drumhead move, imitating the rhythmic motion of waves crashing onto the shore.

This drum sounds like sea waves can transport you to a tranquil beach, providing a calming and meditative atmosphere.

Not only is the ocean drum a musical instrument, but it can also be used as a sound effect device.

Its sea drum sound effect adds depth and authenticity to recordings, making it a popular choice among sound designers and producers.

Whether you’re a musician, a sound enthusiast, or simply seeking relaxation, the ocean drum is a versatile and enchanting instrument that brings the soothing sounds of the sea to life.

History of the Ocean Drum

In 1972, composer and ornithologist Olivier Messiaen invented an innovative percussion instrument known as the geophone for his orchestral piece Des Canyons aux étoiles.

Inspired by the Native American water drum, the geophone was designed to replicate the sounds of dry and shifting earth.

Over time, this instrument gained popularity over time, evolving into what is now commonly called the ocean drum.

The ocean drum was specifically crafted to imitate the soothing sounds of the sea. Its name reflects its ability to create a rhythmic ambiance reminiscent of ocean waves.

With its unique construction and captivating sound, the ocean drum has become a beloved musical instrument worldwide.

Native American Inspiration

The idea for the geophone and the ocean drum was influenced by the water drum used in Native American cultures.

Native American water drums are traditionally made from a hollowed-out log or clay pot with a membrane stretched tightly over one open end.

When the drum is struck or shaken, it produces a resonant sound reminiscent of water splashing or gushing.

Messiaen, fascinated by the indigenous drumming traditions, incorporated elements of this Native American instrument into his geophone design.

This infusion of cultural inspiration created a unique connection between the ocean drum and Native American water drums.

InstrumentGeographic OriginMaterialSound
GeophoneDesigned by Olivier Messiaen in FranceConstructed with drumhead and frameImitates dry and shifting earth sounds
Ocean DrumEvolved from the geophoneFeatures metal beads and a drumhead on a frameReplicates the gentle and rhythmic sounds of the ocean
Native American Water DrumVersatile use across Indigenous cultures in North and South AmericaHollowed-out log or clay pot with a stretched membraneCreates a resonant sound resembling water splashing or gushing


As the ocean drum gained popularity, it embraced its own distinct identity while maintaining its connection to the Native American water drum.

Today, the ocean drum is admired for its ability to transport listeners to the serene soundscape of the ocean, making it a cherished instrument in various musical and therapeutic settings.

Playing the Ocean Drum

Playing the ocean drum is a unique and immersive experience that allows you to create the soothing sounds of the sea.

By mastering the drum technique, you can unlock the full potential of this mesmerizing instrument and create captivating drum sounds that transport listeners to the tranquility of the ocean.

To play the ocean drum effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the ocean drum by its frame, ensuring a comfortable grip.
  2. Roll your wrists gently, causing the drum to tilt in different directions.
  3. As the drum tilts, the metal beads inside will roll over the bottom head, producing a sound that closely resembles waves hitting the shore.
  4. Experiment with different speeds and wrist movements to create variations in the drum sound, ranging from gentle ocean waves to crashing wave effects.
  5. Don’t be afraid to abruptly stop or start your drumming to produce dynamic crashing wave sounds.

The ocean drum offers versatility in terms of playing techniques. You can play it with your hands, using your fingers or palms to roll the wrists, or you can use mallets for a different playing style.

Additionally, the ocean drum can also double as a shaker by gently shaking it to create rhythmic sounds.

Whether you’re a recreational player, an educator, or a professional sound effect artist, the ocean drum’s versatility allows for various applications.

It can be used to create serene and relaxing musical compositions, enhance meditation and mindfulness practices, or add captivating sound effects to film and audio productions.

Ocean Drum


The ocean drum is a unique instrument that captures the essence of the sea through its soothing sounds.

With its mesmerizing drumming technique, this versatile instrument offers a calming and meditative experience for relaxation and sound therapy.

Designed with metal beads rolling over the drumhead, the ocean drum effectively recreates the gentle ebb and flow of ocean waves crashing on the shore.

By varying the speed and technique of play, a wide range of sounds can be produced, including crashing wave effects.

Whether you use it for personal enjoyment, meditation, or as a professional sound effect, the ocean drum provides a serene and immersive experience. Its ability to transport listeners to the tranquil environment of the sea makes it a popular choice for creating a peaceful atmosphere.

Discover the beauty of the ocean in the comforts of your own space with the soothing and relaxing sounds of the ocean drum.

Immerse yourself in the therapeutic power of this remarkable instrument and let its rhythmic waves wash away your stress and bring a sense of tranquility to your surroundings.

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