Ba-doom badda badda, Ba! doom badda.......
August 24, 2003 1:59 AM   Subscribe

Drums around the world "Drums Around the World is an annual simultaneous world wide drumming day.Our purpose is to Honor the traditions of the drum, celebrate its power to unify humanity." The tenth anniversary of the annual "Drums around the World: ....In 1994, the inaugural event, over 2100 drummers showed up at the main event (facilitated by Baba Olatunji, Hamza El Din, Arthur Hull, John Bergamo, Jim Greiner, Muruga Booker, and Native Drummers) creating the worlds largest drum circle. This event was also broadcast world-wide via satellite (complements of CNN)."

Ever drummed on a Djembe until your hands bled? ....Or wondered why virtually no republicans practice African or indigenous drumming techniques? Are hand drums, to the US far right, a spooky talesman which evokes lurid fantasies of wild satanic or Santeria (Voodoo) rituals?
posted by troutfishing (25 comments total)
ooga! booga!
posted by quonsar at 4:03 AM on August 24, 2003 [1 favorite]

I have never drummed a djembe until my hands bled, bruised yes. We have a fairly wide demographic in our drumming circle, but I would wager that 'right-wingers' are few if there are any. We also have no black members in the african drumming circle, so make of that what you will.
Maybe the more right wing elements keep their heads down, but I think that most of the people that I meet through drumming are open to new ideas and experiences in a way that would be anathema to the conservative element of the right-wing.
Drumming and satan have been conflagrated in the past, by the stultifying machinations of conservative christian demagogues, but drumming and Santeria are inextricably linked. Most of the rhythms of cuban music come from the toques played on the bata drums in Santeria. This is one reason why cuban music is so interesting rhythmically, as well as being melodically entrancing.
Shamanic drumming for meditation is supposed to be good for the soul, Layne Redmond thinks that you can use it to bring out your inner goddess (nice if you can get it!).
posted by asok at 4:05 AM on August 24, 2003

So. Many Drummer. Jokes. Must. Get. One. Out. Of. My. System. Before. I. Compliment. The. Post...

This guy goes on vacation to a tropical island. As soon as he gets off the plane, he hears drums. He thinks "Wow, this is cool." He goes to the beach, he hears the drums, he eats lunch, he hears drums, he goes to a luau, he hears drums. He TRIES to go to sleep, he hears drums. This goes on for several nights, and gets to the point where the guy can't

sleep at night because of the drums. Finally, he goes down to the front desk. When he gets there, he asks the manager, "Hey! What's with these drums. Don't they ever stop? I can't get any sleep."

The manager says, "No! Drums must NEVER stop. Very bad if drums stop."


"When drums stop...bass solo begins."


Great post!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 4:37 AM on August 24, 2003

Or wondered why virtually no republicans practice African or indigenous drumming techniques?
Are hand drums, to the US far right, a spooky talesman which evokes lurid fantasies of wild satanic or Santeria (Voodoo) rituals?

Ohferchrissakes. Another FPP ruined by needless political sniping.
posted by PenDevil at 6:01 AM on August 24, 2003

drumming == wild satanism. erm where does that come from?

"When drums stop...digeridoos begin."

you know, i really enjoy drumming, i'm not an expert but when i travelled in africa, i played drums a lot. nothing beats the feeling of being part of a drum circle around an open fire, under african skies. aah the memories.
posted by carfilhiot at 7:56 AM on August 24, 2003

I've never done a drumming circle, but the congas in my living room get a hell of a good work out (especially when listening to Guster - LOL). My hands never bled but they vibrated enough that blood flow was severely inhibited - heh. I can just imagine the energy of drumming with a bunch of other people! (and eventually I'll get a regular drum set and then really go to town!)

I did experience a shamanic journey through drumming once - quite the mind-altering experience - the vibrations of a drum are not to be underestimated. :-)

Drumming circles are probably so associated with 'new age' in many people's minds that they might be afraid of seeming foolish - also, there's the myth that certain sectors of humanity don't have rhythm. Many who haven't tried drumming might also be concerned about seeming foolish for THAT reason too. Might there be an 'equivalent' of drumming for that certain sector of society that we're overlooking?
posted by thunder at 8:08 AM on August 24, 2003

Shamanic drumming for meditation is supposed to be good for the soul

It will help you find your inner self and bring back lost memories.
posted by homunculus at 10:54 AM on August 24, 2003

If you're hitting it till you bleed, then your calluses' aren't built up...and quite possibly you're hitting it wrong. Drums can be a spiritual thing, but trying to ignite a flame war goes against that spirit.
posted by mkelley at 11:03 AM on August 24, 2003

I remember a "drum-in" years ago back in Santa Barbara.

It was a scorching summer day, and I was sitting back in the Cafe Espresso Roma (I used to be one of the "Roma Rats") drinking yet another one of my concoctions that made the employees cringe.

A musician stopped in, and while we were talking, he mentioned a semi-impromptu drummer get together over in one of the parks.

Now, I'm not a "real" drummer, but I'm decent (as long as sticks are not involved), preferring congas of all things (probably due to a mother who loved I Love Lucy).

I headed out, stopping off to bum a set of pseudo-djembes from a chum (the congas were a bit of a pain to drag around) and stopped by.

As everyone finally got seated in the grass, a few of us started to warm up. Of course, we were all out of sync, but that was part of the fun...

Spookily enough, within about 15 minutes, all of us (none of which, I think, had ever really played together) had locked into one big groove. There was probably about 15 or 20 people there, and each one of us staked out a claim to a rhythm and stuck with it.

I remember sitting there, eyes closed, sweat pouring off me, just playing and listening... It was amazing, a true transcendent moment for me. It was me, my drums, and the sound all around.

This was about, oh, 16 or so years ago, and I can remember like almost yesterday...

Thanks for publishing my letter, Penthouse...

posted by Samizdata at 2:23 PM on August 24, 2003

I don't want to work
I want to bang on the drum all day
I don't want to play
I just want to bang on the drum all day

Ever since I was a tiny boy
I don't want no candy
I don't need no toy
I took a stick and an old coffee can
I bang on that thing 'til I got
Blisters on my hand because

When I get older they think I'm a fool
The teacher told me I should stay after school
She caught me pounding on the desk with my hands
But my licks was so hot
I made the teacher wanna dance
And that's why

Listen to this
Every day when I get home from work
I feel so frustrated
The boss is a jerk
And I get my sticks and go out to the shed
And I pound on that drum like it was the boss's head

I can bang that drum
Hey, you wanna take a bang at it?
I can do this all day

posted by quonsar at 2:51 PM on August 24, 2003

I'm a huge skeptic of all things mystical, but there's something about a groove that's beyond our understanding. I discovered the power of hypnotic rhythm via the Martha's Vineyard-based band Entrain. I would go to their shows and just trance out; afterward, I would feel both exhilarated and renewed. I finally talked to Tom Major, the main drummer and founder of the band, and this (from their website) is essentially what he told me:
I first came across the word entrain while reading the book "Drumming at the Edge of Magic" by Mickey Hart. Entrainment was the word he used to describe the event that takes place when a group of drummers/musicians are all "locked" into a groove. I searched further and was fascinated by this concept. It seemed to me to be the perfect name for our new band, as the music was based on world rhythms.

In 1665 Dutch Scientist Christian Huygens decsribed something which is now called the law of entrainment. This law holds that if two or more rhythms are in close proximity, they will always fall into syncrony. Huygens observed that pendulum wall clocks, when placed next to each other, would become "entrained" and beat in sync with each other. This law holds true for all types of rhythms, bio, celestial, mechanical, musical ect.
I still don't understand it, but now I love anything tribal-drumming related. Losing myself to something bigger is still an amazing experience.
posted by swerve at 6:13 PM on August 24, 2003

Love the music. Hate the mandatory whiteboy dreadlocks, self-congratulatory political posturing, and pseudospiritual babble. Shut up and drum.
posted by fuzz at 7:56 PM on August 24, 2003

Hmmm. I guess that answer to my ( politically tendentious and sniping ) question was: no.

That's too bad. I was hoping to troll up a drumming Republican.

Anyway, I've heard that, in some African drumming cultures, it's considered something of a rite of passage to drum until one's hands start to bleed. In other words - if you haven't achieved this, you haven't been drumming hard or long enough or are being too sensitive to or fussy about the pain.
posted by troutfishing at 12:22 AM on August 25, 2003

Drummers are revolting, as a friend of mine's Tshirt stated, him being one.

I remember going to a Pow-Wow a few summers ago, where I arrived late in the evening and pitched my tent beside many others.

I was preparing to sack out, it being near midnight after a long drive, when a group of first nations' youth not 20 feet away from my tent started drumming. I thought to myself, oh great! so much for sacking out. No one around us said anything to the drummers. Nothing.

I slipped into my bedding while the drumming continued. Soon, they were joined by another group drumming, further off into the forest. Call and response it was. I drifted off to sleep so fast, I was amazed.

Truth is, the first nations drum is akin to the heartbeat. This I learned from an elder the next morning, when I commented that no one tried to stop the drumming last night, which I found incredible.

There was no need. It's not like some drum solo of, say "Boston" you understand!

When I'm at a dance club, I find I can trance out very easily without drugs. I find music restorative and dance an extention.

*mmmmm, little fluffy clouds...*
posted by alicesshoe at 12:39 AM on August 25, 2003

More. Stupid. Drummer. Jokes.

What do you call those people who hang out around musicians?


(appropriate rim shot please)
posted by nofundy at 5:49 AM on August 25, 2003

I keep asking hand-drummers I meet if they have ever drummed on a water tower (the kind which is twenty to thirty feet high, with the overall dimensions of, say, a muffin or cupcake but without the lip, so that - provided you can get up on top of it - you can hang out on the gently rounded top and slap and bang on the metal skin, making various booming and pinging noises with exotic natural reverb and reverb layering effects) but to date, I haven't found anyone else who has thought of the idea, let alone actually done it (I have).
posted by troutfishing at 7:24 AM on August 25, 2003

Drumming republicans do not respond to trolling Troutfishing, show some respect.

They respond to 'humourless analy-retentive' metatalk posts.
And even they seem to by stick-drummers rather than hand-drummers.

On reflection, many of the people I drum with hold stupid, illogical extremist beliefs (IMHO), which often border on fascism, they just don't think that they are right wing neccessarily. And we do have black people in the african drumming circle.
posted by asok at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2003

alicesshoe - I seem to remember reading that the beat-per-minute drumming pace used for Shamanic journeying (several persons drum, while one person 'journeys') approximates the average heart rate of a mother giving birth. It's a primal, steady beat - Boom. boom. boom. boom. boom. with no time signature.

I was laying down the beat for a tribal chant yesterday, for the "Drums around the World" event, and I used a 8/4 signature ( I think - musical ability outpaces technical knowledge here): slap, boom. ( 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 silent), slap, boom! (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 silent), and so on, for two more cycles, with occasional soft/loud va

Simple beats do have a hypnotic effect.
posted by troutfishing at 7:40 AM on August 25, 2003

Asok - Actually, I'd guess the authoritarian vs. libertarian political axis would be a better predictor. I doubt the authoritarians (of whatever political stripe) would drum much unless - of course - they were leading a drum circle! But too much tyranny would annoy the other drummers and they would go elsewhere.

Participating in hand drumming - especially in a drum circle - doesn't equal sanity - political or otherwise. Of course.

Stick Drumming Republicans! I wonder how many Jazz, or classical drummers are Republicans? Then there are the military band musicians. I'm sure some of those folks would be. But I asked that question with some seriousness (despite the possible baiting of the Santeria/Satanism question) because I think this is an interesting fault line in American culture. I have a born-again brother, for example, whose a Rush-Limbaugh quoting Republican, and he probably would think the sort of things I do in drum circles would be tantamount to devil worship.

One of the constant themes of drum circles tends to be (in my experience) recognition and reverence for the life-giving power of the Earth and reverence for nature in general -- flowing mostly from native/indigenous cultural traditions. Many Christians - especially among the "born-again - tend to equate reverence for the Earth, and the "Creation" as somehow disrespectful of the "Creator", but this view does not, I think, necessarily flow from Biblical text. Many 'born Agains' go even further and make the link to Satanism (whatever they think this actually is). Personally, I don't think it's at all inconsistent to honor the Earth and the natural world and to also act as a Christian. I think the two, in fact, flow together quite naturally and in a mutually reinforcing way.

Ba-da da Da baboom ___ Ba da boom Ba da da Da da da da da boom...............
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 AM on August 25, 2003

Love drumming.
posted by Foosnark at 9:28 AM on August 25, 2003

troutfishing, THAT would be an interesting study, the heartbeat rate of all mothers while giving birth. I'd guess it would vary. Can anyone one confirm this, as an overall observation even?

Oh, and are you also responsible for placing that car on top of the water tower in Dunville, ON., waaay back also perchance? I don't think they solved that mystery yet.

Regarding first nations traditional drums, it's interesting that to an unfamiliar ear, some say they all sound the same.

I like that beat you laid down for the DAW. I was expecting a continuous beat. Great idea.

As for the thread, "Republicans don't drum...." please, can you conjure up any more stereotypes? This goes for the dreadlocked Caucasians only also. C'mon folks, think independently, don't assume.
*looks askance, hey, I don't have dreadlocks and am not Republican, awright?*
posted by alicesshoe at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2003

alicesshoe - Car on a water tower, you say? Nope - never heard of it. No ma'am, No sir....And besides, I was miles away that night.

....I meant the average heart rate of a mother in labor (sure, it varies a lot). I think it's around 120 beats per minute. I wouldn't be surprised if we were instinctually attuned to it though.

About the "Republicans don't drum...." question - well, they don't seem to (hand drum, anyway). I thought that there might be one or two drumming republicans who would comment on this thread. None so far. Maybe I could manage a post on Free Republic, to hunt for this elusive drumming republican beast in parts where conservatives are thicker than on Metafilter?

Republicans should drum! They're missing a good thing.
posted by troutfishing at 1:51 PM on August 25, 2003

Do drum machines count?

Fires up 909, programs sick-ass beat on the fly...
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:17 PM on August 25, 2003

inpHilltr8r - So, you're saying you're a Drum programming Republican?
posted by troutfishing at 8:23 AM on August 26, 2003

On the "law of entrainment" — does this idea mesh with the prevalence of polyrhythm in African music? I know in my World Music class when we gave it a try the whole thing tended to mesh together, but that was presumably because we were bad at it. When musicians trained in these styles do it, each rhythm stays distinct. Or am I misunderstanding Huygens' idea?
posted by e^2 at 7:01 PM on August 26, 2003

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