Can electronic drums be classified as drums?

We had a rather silly argument at work today. A co-worker claimed that electronic drums are not drums, but something entirely different. Now, I generally don’t post about all the silly arguments we have at work (there’s a new one every day it seems), but this one just is way over the top in my mind.

My first method of argument was, basically, that the term “electronic” (or electric, I consider those to be the same in this particular context) is simply an adjective that describes something.  So, just like all red robins are a subset of robins, electronic drums are a subset of drums.  However, this was not satisfactory, and the co-worker brought up the term “straw man”.  He stated that a straw man is not actually a man.  Fine, I’ll give him this, although it is certainly a rather weak argument since the context must be entirely different for this to be valid.

Next up was’s definition of a drum (his source, not mine, but I’m more than happy to work with that).  There are several definitions for drums on that page, but my co-worker decided that the first one must be used (never mind the fact that if we took the first definition of “straw man” would actually mean that “straw man” are a subset of “men”*).  Well, electronic drums fit basically the entire definition, with one possible exception: with a tightly stretched membrane, or head.  Now, if you would assume that a drum head must be a tightly stretched membrane, then that definition would exclude electronic drums.  However, that’s a rather silly assumption.  I suppose that would mean that the drum heads that guitar center sells for electronic drums must be imaginary – or something like that.  Not to mention that many other drums, such as slit drumslog drums, etc, would not actually be drums.

Why is it so important to exclude every other definition of a drum other than the first one from  Because if you were to take other definitions into account, electronic drums would most certainly be covered.  There are also other places that support the concept that drums are not simply something that must have a membrane, but instead may be something which is designed to resemble a drum. But, of course, these definitions must be ignored for some reason.

There’s a very good saying that’s worth bringing up: If a bird looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. Apply that to electronic drums, and its pretty obvious if they’re drums or not.

 * note to self: in the future, when someone randomly decides to pick certain definitions out of a dictionary and randomly rejects others, just stop the argument there, because it will go nowhere

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