© Rick Cormier
There can be
calm in the midst of noise.
My mind quiets as I play...
suspending its judgements,
rehearsals, and self-reproaching...
Time slows down...
that I begin to see the moments.
I become grounded and aware
and of others
of the music we have become.
There can be such healing in Joy.
"There are no mistakes...only improvisations" ~R.A. Fish
For thousands of years his people built
the drums of legends
Drums of cottonwood and elkhide
Clear, strong voices that sang out to the spirit
In the most
sacred of their ceremonies.
He, like his ancestors, is a drum-builder.
of the Cochiti pueblo,
One of three remaining drum-building elders.
Building drums in the Old way.
A cane helps him walk and stand.
expects that soon he will lack the strength to build more drums.
He said so without remorse and welcomed us into his home.
There we exchanged culture and stories
His wife showed us pictures of their children and grandchildren.
They talked of powwows and crafts and tribes.
They make us laugh warning us about
made by "Korean tribes."
He handed me his latest drum and talked
How the cottonwood must sit outdoors for a year before becoming a drum.
Those people at Taos rush
theirs using green wood...
which will shift under the pressure of the elkhide...
and eventually crack and split.
He builds his drums the Old way.
He offered me a beater, which I refused.
hands had been exploring the feel of this drum.
I began tapping out a beat with my fingers, bouncing them off the drumhead
contrasting tones from different parts of the head.
He had never heard sounds like this from one of his drums.
the rhythm intrigued him.
"Is that African?" he asked.
I was tempted to answer, "Acadian Funk."
He was surprised and fascinated by the
concept of community drum circles.
He couldn't imagine all those diverse people drumming together.
In his world, a drum is a chalice at
In mine, it is a shared goblet at a crowded table.
And he "gets it."
He saw the wisdom and the value of it
thought it a wonderful mission
to bring people together.
And I imagined... "Different Drummers:
After handshakes and hugs, we left the
home of Gabe and Katy.
With a gift for being a guest in their home.
He made us promise to call him when we got back
so he'd know we got home safely.
And I kept that promise.
Then I learned to build Cochiti beaters
honor my adopted Cochiti grandfather
So that my new drums could sing
In the Old way.
In our group song I hear
hands and fingers dancing
on drum heads.
In the moment
in the music
we are co-creators
I glance at your face
I know everything that matters
In our group song I feel
that unique blend of tension,
let this simmer a while
so the flavors combine
then add a bit more joy...
(One can never add too much joy).
in our respective worlds.
I don't know your stressors,
and you don't know mine...
but we are here drumming
our group song
in this roomful
of cherished hearts and souls
for a time...
nothing else matters.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't
open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Some of us are smiling,
some look grumpy.
Some look comfortable,
others look lost.
We lift our drums confidently
and begin to play loudly
or with reserve
From the heart
or from the head
Knowing our place in the song
or doubting ourselves.
We look unlikely to belong
to the same group.
differ in every way
Were Christian and Pagan
Men and women
Black and white
Gay and straight
Well-off and poor
Educated or not
Eloquent or not
Experienced or not
It doesnt matter here.
are here to make music
and some are here to touch God.
Some came to be together
while others came to be alone.
Some came for the joyful noise
and some for peace and quiet.
Some came to heal their souls
and others just
It doesnt matter which.
Some are here to connect with spirit...
to raise energies
to be entranced
or find their essence
And some are here to stop thinking.
To just Be.
Together for a dozen reasons
Headed for a dozen destinations
Yet we travel as One.
Supporting one another
without a word
Building something of beauty
that not one of us
Ending each piece with laughter
...or with silence.
Feeling so alive,
and in the moment,
When its time to go, I pray
I can bring a bit more
of my drum circle heart
into the world
Because the world has much to learn
Drum-mer: "1. One that plays the drum or drumset. 2. He who constantly bangs on things and pretty much drives everybody
"Without art, we're just monkeys with car keys."
~ Author Unknown
"Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
~ Pablo Picasso
Dawn Andersen joined Different Drummers recently. She drummed, she sang, she chanted...and at one point she asked if it
was ok if she read a few poems she had written. We were all so moved by them I asked her permission to post them on our website:
Drumming With Others
Drumming with others - in sacred rhythm - fills my soul to overflowing.
When Righteous harmony is achieved within the drumming group,
I feel the Divine Creative Musician at work in each of us
contributing to a sound that both grounds me, and
makes me soar in an indescribable rapture.
There are all kinds of intimacy. This surely is one of them.
It's a time where we can be intimately connected to others
we may not even know. Yet, we make beautiful music like
we've known each other for always. And maybe that's the lesson here.
When we offer our individual drumbeat in harmony with the whole,
all of our barriers drop until we are nothing but the one drumbeat.
We become the heartbeat of Godde.
I think we all understand this in our own ways.
Thank You, Musician Healer, for being an expression in all of us
that drum your heartbeat song - whatever that is.
Today You have saved the life in me.
You have resurrected my joy. You have resurrected my hope
that I am not alone. You have resurrected my knowing
that I am part of the whole family and that I am needed here.
In humility and gratitude, today I promise I will drum for You.
Dawn Andersen 2/25/07
Drumming: An Instrument Of Love
I pick up my drum.
There's a deep awed silence - a revered stillness -
in the moments of anticipating what that first stroke
to my drum will create for a sound vibration and
what that will do to my soul.
I let go and make contact falling in love again
with the vibrations, which are not only heard clearly,
but felt deeply in my heart and body.
Before long, the sounds create within me some
earth based erotic impulse to move.
compelled to move, I follow this urge and very quickly
my movement turns to dance.
Dancing - my soul lightens - freeing me to expand. I am inspired.
These acts of dancing and drumming
bring sacred spirit's light into myself.
I call thanks to all the great beings
of the universe for helping me to satisfy
this great primitive longing in me.
I realize doing what makes me joyful fosters gratitude.
I know having a grateful heart makes me
an instrument of Godde's peace.
I bring light into myself.
I bring joy into the world.
I am an instrument of Godde's peace.
Dawn Andersen 2/30/01 revised 2/23/07
improviser employs the oldest in music-making... Mankind's first musical performance couldn't have been anything
other than a free improvisation." ~Derek Bailey
IN THE SPIRIT
by Cliff Latta
It's all from the Great Spirit,
The Sun, mountains,
in the Sky,
You and me...
A tree that fell crashing to the forest floor,
And the elk's skin that now embraces
Begin a new journey.
Hold your drum to your ear,
In a private moment
When you want to talk with
Then begin to beat
Against the elk and tree
Until their voice fills you
You have created the path with this drum.
That future generations may follow.
is a new voice in the world
That is the elk
and the tree
Moving together in the spirit.
My friend, Pam Adams, wrote these four drum circle haikus....
drumming and dancing
lost in the community
bigger than myself
it began slowly
now friends gather to embrace
finding my rhythm
my drum circle heart
i open it everywhere
drumming with my friends
a nod across the circle
"A good drummer listens as much as he plays."
David C. Smith
The drum will call those who hold the spirit.
It will draw near, those who
do not yet know.
The elk and tree will speak to the hearts of the believers.
They will seek to make others hear their
But those who are not drawn to it, will not hear.
Those who are, will never forget.
Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm.
Every thing and every human action revolves in rhythm."
~ Baba Olatunji
The idea that there are harps in Heaven is a common misconception.
When we get to Heaven there will be DRUMS!!! ~Tony Vacca
"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."
HEART And DRUM
by Martin Steingesser
Listen to the Earth,
drum of the heart.
Native Americans say the world is a drum.
In the ear, the drum itself is hearing.
Feet dance in the
on that drum.
comes straight from the heart.
Listen to the Earth.
Sound is power and the first sound we hear is the pulse of our mother's
blood. No sound has a more powerful effect on our consciousness. Drumming is the musical expression of this primal power.
Rhythm is a means of organizing sound into specific energy formulas to harmonize the mind and body. Chanting, rhythmic breathing
and drumming form an ancient technology for directly synchronizing the mind/body complex, creating conditions for psychological
and physical healing.
Blessing of the Drums
As we breathe so shall we live
let our breath be filled with the
rhythm of life -
and let rhythm rain
down like thunder.
As we play so shall we live
then let our play be filled with joy -
and let joy rain down like
As we make music together so shall we live
then let our music be filled with harmony -
and let harmony
rain down like thunder.
Bless these drums with the love
that brings us together
and may love
rain down like thunder.
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
"A good groove releases adrenaline in your body. You feel uplifted,
you feel centered, you feel calm, you feel powerful. You feel that energy. That's what good drumming is all about."
I am the drum
I am that pulsing
Synchronizing beat that captivates
And through the drum
Originating from within
is absolute creation of original thought
And I, it, we, are moving
Expressing, Exhilarating, Unifying
am the drum
Groove has a relationship to the whole area of trance, repetition,
meditation and hypnosis. One view is that by repeating things beyond a certain point, the listener`s mind is forced to jump
off to a new place. But rhythm goes very deep at instinctive level too, and has become increasingly an antidote for me to
excess infomation. Losing myself in playing a hand drum gives me a route to shedding all the clutterings and clammerings of
a world over-rich with media, and finding a more wholesome space.
Drum circles create physical vibrations that relax the body. They
also massage the heart and the emotions.
We live in an age and culture
where our sex, race, age, and class separate us. Our lifestyles separate
us. Our neighborhoods separate us. Our livelihoods separate us. Our politics
separate us. Even our religions separate us. So many distinctions in our
culture serve to keep us disconnected from one another.
Much has been documented regarding how
drum circles can heal individuals,
but another kind of
healing takes place:
Group drumming builds bridges between people.
We feel connected, find commonality
and build Community. ~Rick Cormier
"DRUM FOR YOUR LIVES!"
One evening, in our Massachusetts drum circle, Ralph and Rick decided
to "duet" on Ralph's great big African kettle drum he called "Bertha." It wasn't really meant to be a duet...they thought
they were just starting a beat. But when they got going, the playing was so intense and so connected that all the other
drummers just watched.
Ralph and Rick's 'duet' routine would later go on to become one
of our drum circle traditions. But Ed was there that first night they did it and was so moved that he wrote this wonderful
piece to describe it:
have to see it.
heard the recording and it just doesn’t catch it. It’s not a strictly auditory thing. You need to be there. You
need your eyes.
have to see it.
The big guy almost dances up to the drum, gleeful, mallets waving loosely in his hands. The other one, lean, tight, hawk-like
and intense, is already seated and glowering over a huge kettle of wood and leather.
eyes meet for a moment over the surface of the drum and the rhythm seems to start out of nowhere. They don’t so much
play it as conjure it. Deep, driving, compact thunder, reaching you from the soles of your feet as much as your ears This
is a rhythm to dance the gods into your body. Possession rhythm.
over this barrel of sound, the hawk does not waver. He leans into the drum, his head cocked at an inquisitive angle, every
muscle in his face, in his whole frame, set. Taut. Listening. You can almost see the energy vibrating under his skin. He.barely
moves anything but his wrists. There is no other motion from that side of the drum.
big guy is another story. A face splitting grin, laughing, head bobbing, shoulders rolling, the great belly shaking, his eyes
as bright as a child’s. His whole body caught up and playing with the rhythm. If you can dance in your seat and drum,
that’s what he’s doing.
power of the sound is carrying us all off, awed and enraptured. Heartbeat and breath join the drumbeat automatically.
lead of the rhythm passes between them, volleyed back and forth across the drum like a tennis ball. It passes without a gesture,
without a hitch, anticipated.
is one kick ass riff, and it’s getting faster Now both of them are sweating, droplets flying off the big guy’s
face as his head sways wildly. I think if it got disengaged from his heaving shoulders right now, he’d just keep drumming;
the head rolling under a chair, still laughing.
hawk still hasn’t twitched above the forearms, but as the sweat runs down his face, an almost imperceptible smile cracks
the fierce expression. His eyes glitter.
playing so fast now the sound is almost changing to light. You can’t even see the head of the mallets any more, just
a blurred arc over the surface of the drum. The world begins to disconnect. The pounding is causing the room to melt, to unhinge
and roll with the deep pulse. They are both lost, gone into the rhythm, and the rest of us are nearly gone with them. The
drummers have almost merged to become a part of the instrument, the rest of us, part of the sound.
ends sharp and tight and right and there is a two beat pause as we all return, rushing back from wherever we’ve been
taken and the whoops and applause fill the space left by the drummers, both of them now laughing, reaching over the drum and
shaking hands in triumph.
stuff just does not happen on tape.
Ed Rooney, Drumfish Drum Circle, Fairhaven, MA