Drums are among the most ancient of all musical instruments and have been found in nearly all cultures across the world. This work covers a selection of major investigations of the acoustics of percussion instruments by a variety of scientists throughout history. Ernst Chladni’s efforts to characterize the vibration of plates are well known in acoustics and often replicated by students in the laboratory. Other scientists who made early contributions to the understanding of percussion instruments include Lord Rayleigh and C. V. Raman. Rayleigh’s observations of the acoustics of the kettledrum and bells represented only a fraction of his contributions to acoustics. Raman, who is remembered more for his work in spectroscopy, made detailed studies of the traditional Indian drum, the tabla. Modal analysis techniques used to investigate the acoustics of percussion instrument have evolved significantly in recent years. A brief review of current modal analysis techniques for studying percussion instruments is presented in this work. In addition, suggestions for future directions of percussion research is described here.