Last Updated on February 16, 2024

Drum sand is a fictional concept that appears in the science fiction franchise Dune.

This special type of sound-emitting sand is first mentioned in the original novel written by Frank Herbert.

In the fictional universe of “Dune,” drum sand is a type of sand that produces a deep, resonant sound when struck or played on a drum.

It is described as being found in desert environments and is used by the Fremen, a desert-dwelling people in the “Dune” universe, to make musical instruments and other objects.

A sandworm emerging from drum sand in Dune
A sandworm emerging from drum sand in Dune

The desert environment in which the Fremen live is often depicted as being harsh and unforgiving, with extreme temperatures and limited resources.

The infamous sandworms, giant worms that inhabit the desert in Dune, are also a formidable and dangerous presence in the Dune universe.

These sandworms are attracted to the sound of drumming, and the Fremen use drum sand to communicate with the sandworms and lure them to certain locations, often as part of their spice mining operations.

This practice can be dangerous, as the sandworms are highly aggressive and can be deadly to humans.

In the 2021 Dune movie, the main protagonist Paul Atreides accidentally summons a sandworm when he stamps on a patch drum sand.


Drum Sands

The phenomenon of drum sands can be found on many Neta-type planets, but the name “drum sand” is only used on Arrakis.

For a sand dune to emit sound, four conditions need to be met:

  1. Sand grains must be of approximately equal size.
  2. The grains must be bonded together. This bonding is most commonly produced by the chemical deposition of water-soluble salts on the grain surfaces.
  3. The packing density must be uniform.
  4. The underlying bedrock must be essentially parallel to the sand surface.
Drum sand as depicted in the Dune movie (2021)
Drum sand as depicted in the Dune movie (2021)

“Singing dunes” in the real world

There are no known types of sand that produce sound when struck or played on a drum in the real world, the properties and characteristics of drum sand in the “Dune” series are therefore not based on any scientific or real-world principles, and are purely a product of the author’s imagination.

There is however, a natural phenomenon that causes sand to emit sounds when blown over by wind.

Singing sand dunes, also known as whistling dunes or musical sand dunes, are sand dunes that produce a sound when the sand is moved or disturbed.

This phenomenon is caused by the motion of the sand grains rubbing against each other, which creates vibrations that can be perceived as a sound.

The sound produced by singing sand dunes can vary in intensity and pitch, and is often described as a low, humming or buzzing noise.

The Science of Booming Sand Dunes

Singing sand dunes are found in various locations around the world, including in deserts, on beaches, and in other sandy environments.

These rare dunes are formed by the wind transporting and depositing sand particles, and the sound is produced when the sand is moved or disturbed by wind, footsteps, or other means.


Read more: List of Singing Sand Dunes in the US

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