Sunday, June 15, 2008

The drums

Now, on to the most commonly used drums. I accidentally omitted the doumbek in the previous entry, so I will start with it this time.

The doumbek is a goblet-shaped hand drum used mainly in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Balkan, Greek, Armenian, and Azeri music. Because of its Middle Eastern origin, it is a favorite of belly dancers, or Pagan women who belly dance because it's just something Pagan women do. I mean, because it strengthens their connection to the Mother Goddess. It certainly isn't an excuse to wear a lot of clinking jewelry and swirly skirts!

The bodhrán is, of course, an Irish frame drum. There is evidence that the bodhrán was used in battle in 1603, during the Irish Rebellion. It has also been used to provide a cadence to pipers and warriors. This has lead many to believe that the bodhrán was derived from a Celtic war drum. This strikes a very special cord in the hearts of many Pagans, who have Irish or Scottish heritage they wish to explore. Being Pagan AND playing a bodhrán is, for some, an especially strong connection to one's roots. Bodhráns don't always fit in at drum circles because of their unique sound. It's hard to play those "doum tekka tekka tekka doum" rhythms that the dancers crave. It may be fine for step dancing, but step dancing is rarely done around a bonfire. It's more of a daytime activity. There's too much danger in tripping over a root or stone in the dark.

The djembe is the king of the drum circle. This drum is from Western Africa and is said to contain three spirits: the spirit of the tree that provided the wood, the spirit of the animal whose skin provided the drum head, and that of the instrument maker. Most of the drums used in drum circles will be djembes because they have the deepest sound, the one that sounds most like the heartbeat of the planet. Plus it's the loudest, and if you can't play well, play LOUD! Er, loudly.

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