Good Morning Child,
There are very few things in my life that I hate. So few I could make one of my world famous lists.
You are shaking your head now wondering how me, Mr. Positive, could take exception to a bunch of free spirits simply enjoying life and making noise in the woods. I think the key word is “noise”. It’s been my experience that most of the drum circles consist of very few people that can actually play the drums. Don’t get me wrong I’ve heard some fantastic drum circles, but in 20 years I could count them all on one hand. The people doing the drumming I love, it’s the way they are doing it that I strongly dislike.
Just because you own a drum and can hit it with your ham fist doesn’t mean you have rhythm, also just because you have rhythm doesn’t mean you can play drums. It is a lot harder than it looks. Drummers, no matter what the jokes say, are actually musicians and many train all their lives perfecting their art.
I used to play in a band with a fellow from Atlanta named Count M’Butu, he was one of the best percussionists I’ve ever worked with; he felt the same way about drum circles. We would be playing a festival and he would do whatever it would take to not be exposed to the animal hide bangers. Which can be hard - in case you have forgotten DRUMS ARE LOUD!
Count M’Butu spent a year in Mali West Africa living with a local family learning how to play drums in the West African style. West Africa, mostly the area around Mali, is where the popular drum the Djembe comes from. The Djembe has a goblet style drum that can make a variety of sounds and are also VERY LOUD. Although, they were not generally used as signal drums. Unlike most other musical instruments in Mali you do not have to be of the musician/stroytelling class (griot) to play the Djembe. But you do have to be good at it. A master Djembe player is said to be able to make the drum talk, and oh the stories they could tell.
Interesting fact - in Africa the Djembe is played mostly by men. West African women are taken aback when they come to the United States and see a dreadlocked Hippie girl playing a Djembe. I have absolutely no problem with that however, as long as she can play.
One time the Count even went up to a drum circle to try to give some pointers - no one would listen - they were lost in their own world. That’s when the Count realized they weren’t playing drums or percussion at all. The were performing a family style meditation technique. After that he was a little more tolerant, a little. Plus, I think he liked watching the naked dancing girls.
It’s Still Music
African drum rhythms can be very simple and very complex, and the dictionary defines rhythm as...a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound: the systematic arrangement of musical sounds, principally according to duration and periodic stress. In other words they are not just the random hitting of some object with the hopes that music will come from it. Drums must be played and played correctly. Especially in a group situation - like drum circles.
A standard drum beat, be it African or otherwise, can be broken down into simple parts - lets say (as in some western music) 1,2,3,4 Each count falling evenly with the same duration of silence between the notes. A beginning drummer must learn how to keep that duration steady and hit the drum in time with the other drummers. I’n my opinion, if a person can’t quickly play a simple beat, say hitting the drum on the 2 and the 4, If they can’t find that very simple beat without really trying they would better serve the group by stripping off their clothes and dancing naked around the fire. And children should be the ones that find it the fastest. It ain’t Quantum Physics.
If you want to play drums in a drum circle that’s cool, but learn how - there are plenty of people around that are willing and quite capable of teaching you, but you must be willing to learn. It’s a big beautiful world for plenty of room for everybody, and playing on the drums is a trillions times better than fighting a war. So drummer boys and girls keep on drummin’ Just don’t be surprised if I excuse myself and go outside and listen to the frogs. Naked.
Please no drumming during the laughing session.
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just say yes!
meet Andy Ward King, a professional musician and artist until a diagnosis of parkinons dsease at age 49 forced him into an early retirement., he now uses his music, his art along with the whimsical world he has created in this blog as therapy to ( as he puts it ) outsmart his brain and make the daily battles with parkinson’s a little bit easier, to give him that all important reason to get up on the morning, to make his life worth living. Andy has learned how to say NO to gving up \ NO to depression and apathy \ NO to following willingly the road of decline that stretches before him. he learned that to say no to all of these things all one has to do is say yes. Andy has learned to just say YES to life/\\