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  • Drum Circles

    Hey Roberthelpus

    I second Roc Stone's suggestion. I would love to see and hear some of your drumming. That would be cool!
    Sorry, I don't have anything to record video or audio with right now.

    But I'd like to address some of your comments concerning Drum Circles because I disagree on several points.

    Quote:Originally Posted by roberthelpus
    How do I say this without sounding like the grinch who stole rhythm

    As a conguero and bongocero who has been studying AfroCuban percussion for over 11 years - been a musician for over over thirty - I have some problems with the whole drum circle scene. I mean I'm happy for them and all that, and am glad that they are having fun but it has led to some disrespect for my instrument and what I do. You don't hear of violin circles because of course a violin is a real musical instrument that you have to actually learn how to play.

    No way you are the grinch who stole rhythm, - you've got too much of it inside to steal someone elses. But I do think you're viewing a community drum circle, and the people that attend them, with a too critical eye.
    Mea Culpa on the critical eye, but I allways try to go into them in a positive manner. I actually really do think positively as I'm usually looking for someone with a clue - or someone willing to learn, to hit with.

    There's folks that are more against than I am. Check out this http://www.chidjembe.com/drumdollars.html It gets pretty harsh in places, but I agree with most of it.

    As possibly a master musician yourself,
    Not even close to being a master, but I do try to honor, and continue to study the traditions from which my drums came.

    you understand the complexity of your instrument and your special gift to play it. Obviously you take it seriously. But the Drum Circle is not about the Drum itself, or who is the "lead" or best drummer. It is about the people in the circle, sharing the experience of rhythm together. Any drum of any shape is welcome. The circle activity is about total inclusion of all attending, and by that very nature, the drum rhythms must be kept simple. You are right about a violin circle. It is a complicated instrument, and after two hours a beginner would struggle to play five decent notes. Not so with drums. Most people, and kids, can replicate a simple beat on any of the many types of drums. That certainly doesn't imply that the drum is a lesser instrument, it is just more accessible to the average person. Most circle rhythms doesn't demand any specific level of skill


    The history of Drum Circles.

    In the drum circle, people who are not necessarily professional musicians come together to create an improvised composition that becomes the score for their own lives. The drum circle provides a portal into musical expression, making it an accessible experience for anyone at any age or level of ability. In it’s simplest form, the drum is an accessible tool for creative expression Anybody can use it in this context.
    I know all that, and I'm fine with it to a degree. But as an end in itself, I don't see it. If it is something worthwhile doing, then it is something worth putting some effort into. Hell people spend more effort on video games than many that I've seen in your typical circle. Most of them don't even own a drum.

    A lot of times I leave my drums in the car and just show up with bells and a shekere so that I can be less obtrusive. On the other hand you can lead a whole crew anywhere you want with a bell if they've got ears. I started doing that after I've brought whole circles to a screaching halt by playing simple polyrhythmic ostinatos that come from the traditions that their drums come from.

    ...and I completely disagree that drum circles lead to disrespect for the "drum instrument" or lessens the skills of a dedicated practiced drummer in the eyes of circle members. I think it champions the act of drumming, and the experience of everyone there to participate, at whatever level, as a "drummer" (or dancer). Any disrespect comes from excluding people from joining.
    Other than I've seen it too many times. People who wouldn't dream of grabbing someones guitar or even a kit drummers sticks will start fooling with my drums. People that really think that the simple flailing that they are doing is the same thing that drum choirs are doing because they have no clue about the complex rhythms and underlying structures that are the basis fo the music, and say as much in so many words.

    Then there are others that do "get it" and say as much.

    Quote:Originally Posted by roberthelpus
    I will still go to the damn things, trolling for actual drummers, or someone who would like to learn something, but that rarely happens...

    .....The thing that gets me is the reluctance, of most of the drum circle folks that I have run into, to practicing or learning how to actually play their instruments, let alone learning actual rhythms or songs.

    If you are looking for serious drum students to practice and play with, than I'd think you are looking in the wrong place. Most people in a community drum circle are probably NOT serious drummers, but just folks looking to share the experience and have fun through the rhythm and dance. This ain't nothing but a good time. Maybe some Afrocuban seminars or camps would help you locate more serious drummers to work with.
    I've actually run into a few folks at circles, some that were already serious drummers and a few that were willing to learn and I took them on as students for a while anyway. My problem these days is mos of the cats that I know are all around my age and don't have the time and we get together far to infrequently.

    Quote:Originally Posted by roberthelpus
    Hey, I've even met Arthur Hull at one of his "playshops" and let him join a friend and I in a Bembe 6/8 I even gave up my drum and jumped on bell. But his whole spiel is a load of BS.

    I have not met Arthur Hull, but as an internationally recognized percussionist, he is known to many fans of rhythm. I would say you are lucky to have actually played with him. Consider this for a moment: As a great drummer, he (or you) could come into town, give a concert, and let many people sit and watch him play. in effect - He plays for them. Instead, he comes into town, creates a drum circle and plays WITH them. No matter how simple the rhythms (and dance) I will not fault him for allowing the crowd to join with him in the drumming experience. Perhaps they won't reach that mystical, spiritual nirvana of "inner rhythm" or some sacred inner change, - but - they did get the chance to sit and play with a renown drummer, and perhaps some members gained a real desire to study the drums. I don't think that's BS, I think that is sharing the experience. Drum Circle theory video
    Hey now. He played with us

    Arthur can play but he's but he's not that great. There are some that say that he went into the drum circle thing because of just that.

    Arthur does equate (verbally and in print) what he is doing to various cultural traditions, which is a load of horse potatos. In all of the traditions that I know of the drums are played by the drummers and they play very specific rhythms that are specific to the ocassion. Rhythms that have been handed down by oral tradition through years if not centuries. What creativity that is allowed is always within the structure of a very specific rhythm that has evolved over time. When spring planting time comes along, the drummers and singers play the fertility song, not whatever happens to pop up into their head.

    There are traditions where a student is only allowed to carry the master drummers drum or even just the bell for years before he is allowed to play. There are certain rites that are only allowed to be played by those who are initiates that must go through years of procedures. There are sacred drums that even picking the tree from which the drum is made is a ceremony.

    Just aint the same thing as shat Arthur's up to.

    ...and yes I'm just a Ukrainian-Irish-American boy from Cincinnati, Ohio that happens to play some of this stuff as a hobby. I play mostly secular rhythms and there are definitely some thing that I just wont touch.

    I think I could stabilize a freestanding speed bag frame given enough room for attaching luggage straps. Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about being heard over someone else, but if they were that annoying, I'd just move to another location.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Maybe do something like getting a group of folks together with different speed bag rigs that have different sounds and work something out like that.

    Perhaps the "spiritual, rhythmic transcendence" and "mystical rhythmic journal" references in Drum Circles is overhyped. But from Native Americans to African based, or just beach drum circles, they are a blast to go to.
    Kind of what I'm sayin.

    (* secretly, I long to learn this...) or turn one of these big bad boys (2:35) into a rebound board.

    imagine dragging that sucker to the beach....
    Now those folks are moving some serious air. I'd love to see, or rather feel that live some time, as there's no way that a recording could do it justice.

    A friend of mine and his carpenter brother made a couple of Native American style drums that are that large in diameter but not as deep. They are pretty intense when the temperature and humidity is right so that the deerskin heads are in tune. Have to admit that I've gotten a bit drum circley trancey on a couple of evenings with them

  • #2
    Originally posted by roberthelpus View Post
    ...Other than I've seen it too many times. People who wouldn't dream of grabbing someones guitar or even a kit drummers sticks will start fooling with my drums. People that really think that the simple flailing that they are doing is the same thing that drum choirs are doing because they have no clue about the complex rhythms and underlying structures that are the basis for the music, and say as much in so many words.

    Then there are others that do "get it" and say as much.
    Touching another's drum(s) without permission is a big no no, Much like touch someones "hog" (Harley). You just don't do it. Especially a hand drum, which is a much more intimate instrument with the owner. I remember Sule Greg Wilson, author of The Drummer's Path, writing that he learned his lesson the hard way, loaning out his favorite hand drum, and it never sounded or played the same again.

    I admit it bothers me when someone, uninvited and unasking, just walks up to my bag and starts pounding it - Usually with a watch and rings on.

    Originally posted by roberthelpus View Post
    ...Now those folks are moving some serious air. I'd love to see, or rather feel that live some time, as there's no way that a recording could do it justice.
    That is so true of many things. Video does not do it justice. Whether a Taiko Drum, A pro golfers drive, the sound of a 100mph fastball cracking the catchers glove, an impressive speed bagger, a white shark breaching full body out of the water, or a full blown Lions Roar. You've got to see and hear it live to really appreciate the spectacle, beauty and skill.
    Speed Bag

    Put a little Rhythm in YOUR workout!
    *attendee: Every SB gathering so far!
    The Quest Continues...
    Hoping for another Gathering...


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    The Art of the Bag

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Speedbag View Post
      Touching another's drum(s) without permission is a big no no, Much like touch someones "hog" (Harley). You just don't do it. Especially a hand drum, which is a much more intimate instrument with the owner. I remember Sule Greg Wilson, author of The Drummer's Path, writing that he learned his lesson the hard way, loaning out his favorite hand drum, and it never sounded or played the same again.

      I admit it bothers me when someone, uninvited and unasking, just walks up to my bag and starts pounding it - Usually with a watch and rings on.
      Yeah, I've always been touchy about this with my axes, and some people don't understand it. Some of it has to do with practical concerns like rings and such and some of it has to do with "vibes." One of my original teachers did a lot of work in schools and with kids and he had a lot of drums with heads so dirty they were black. I scratched wash me with my fingernails on one once and he gave me the evil eye, but it was clean as new the next time I saw it. Wash your hands after you eat fried chicken or a PBJ sandwich, and yes I am allowed to hit my drums with sticks, you are not.

      The Drummers Path great book. I loaned it to someone and never got it back. One thing that stuck in my head was his description and illustration about how the energy flows differently between djembes and congas. Outward on djembes and inward on congas. Yes they are very different instruments with very different techniques, and bongos are a whole nother animal altogether.

      Drumming At The Edge Of Magic by Mickey Hart surprised me - I'm not much of a Deadhead - I really enjoyed it http://www.mickeyhart.net/Pages/books.html It's a good read.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by roberthelpus View Post
        Yeah, I've always been touchy about this with my axes, and some people don't understand it. Some of it has to do with practical concerns like rings and such and some of it has to do with "vibes." One of my original teachers did a lot of work in schools and with kids and he had a lot of drums with heads so dirty they were black. I scratched wash me with my fingernails on one once and he gave me the evil eye, but it was clean as new the next time I saw it. Wash your hands after you eat fried chicken or a PBJ sandwich, and yes I am allowed to hit my drums with sticks, you are not.

        The Drummers Path great book. I loaned it to someone and never got it back. One thing that stuck in my head was his description and illustration about how the energy flows differently between djembes and congas. Outward on djembes and inward on congas. Yes they are very different instruments with very different techniques, and bongos are a whole nother animal altogether.

        Drumming At The Edge Of Magic by Mickey Hart surprised me - I'm not much of a Deadhead - I really enjoyed it http://www.mickeyhart.net/Pages/books.html It's a good read.
        I haven't read the book by Mickey Hart but I love his music, and love to punch with a few songs on his album Planet Drum, particularly #6 "the hunt". You can float it an out with short punching combinations to his african beats. by the way this version of The Hunt is not Mickey Hart, but I Kinda like it too... (not drums)

        A quick book and easy read that you might enjoy, if you haven't already, is The Way of the Pulse, Drumming with Spirit, by John Diamond MD. I like this book almost as much as the drummers path, for he presents the concept of "pulse" as the particular way any individual thing, or person moves.
        To me that is very true, for some people just play a drum, others make it sing. The person who makes it "sing" uses his own pulse to bring out the best of the drum. That is why no two drummers, or bag punchers sound the same. In my old gym days, I could usually tell who was punching the bag just by the sound of their punching. Everybody creates their own Pulse on the bag, and with time it is recognizable. Some sound great, others sound forced, or muffled, others off center - and there are many variations. I know you have seen and heard those sound variations on conga and Djembes. Very few can make the same drum sound the same, for the pulse of the drummer brings out the pulse of the drum, and they combine to create what others hear. Some have the gift, and some do not.

        Yea, deep kimshee but I believe it.

        Some can even find the drum in the guitar... (try 3:00 in..)
        Speed Bag

        Put a little Rhythm in YOUR workout!
        *attendee: Every SB gathering so far!
        The Quest Continues...
        Hoping for another Gathering...


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        The Art of the Bag

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        • #5
          The Planet drum stuff that I have heard allways seemed to be less than the sum of it's parts. He's had some real monsters in there and it seemed kind o disappointing.

          Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...&search=Search are the folks that got me to drop the saxophone and get serious about conga etc. Some friends of mine studied with them in Cuba and made an impression on them with the seriousness with which they had toward the music and culture so that they did the only workshops on their US tour here in Cinti. I saw their concert went to the two day workshop and then drove up to Bloomington, Indiana so that I could see them perform again. They came back two years later for another performance and two evenings of workshops, which I attended as well.

          Long story short, they live this every day. Can you see why I think drum circles are just trifling and silly?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by roberthelpus View Post
            The Planet drum stuff that I have heard allways seemed to be less than the sum of it's parts. He's had some real monsters in there and it seemed kind o disappointing.

            Grupo AfroCuba de Matanzas http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...&search=Search are the folks that got me to drop the saxophone and get serious about conga etc. Some friends of mine studied with them in Cuba and made an impression on them with the seriousness with which they had toward the music and culture so that they did the only workshops on their US tour here in Cinti. I saw their concert went to the two day workshop and then drove up to Bloomington, Indiana so that I could see them perform again. They came back two years later for another performance and two evenings of workshops, which I attended as well.

            Long story short, they live this every day. Can you see why I think drum circles are just trifling and silly?
            Yes, these folks are a whole different level of drummer, and perhaps play for different reasons then the average Drum Circle participant. It's obvious this is their life and heritage. But I suspect that the different levels of skill and purposes of play doesn't lessen the experience of rhythm for either. At least I hope not.
            Speed Bag

            Put a little Rhythm in YOUR workout!
            *attendee: Every SB gathering so far!
            The Quest Continues...
            Hoping for another Gathering...


            sigpic

            The Art of the Bag

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            • #7
              I agree

              Hi Speedbag,

              I totally agree with your views on the drumming subject. The video you posted is awesome!

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9shQ...eature=related

              It is sad that some groups or types of specific drumming/drummers think their drumming/style is the only correct way to drum. Sadly that mind set is not uncommon. I would give the Africans the the win for most complex and beautiful of all rhythms. I was lucky to have a drum instructor that was well versed in all drumming and showed me early on to respect all drumming from around the globe. I must say I have enjoyed a lifetime of wonderful drumming and rhythm. Its all good. People come to the drum for a ton of different reasons. I find it interesting how the rhythms are applied to the speed bag.

              Gallichio

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