Tuesday, April 13, 2010

THE RHYTHM OF A PARTICULAR AFRICAN DRUM


Hi there everyone!
Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa on this early Autumn day!
Thank you to all my commentators for your wonderful, enlightening comments yesterday!
It was so interesting reading them all and being transported down memory lane with the artifacts which are lying around your homes.  It seems that we have a lot more in common than I initially thought!

I would like to continue the
ARTIFACTS THEME...

...and today I'd like to share a little story ...

I have always been enthralled with the amazing rhythm one finds in Africa - especially amongst indigenous cultures. Music is intrinsic to Africa and our artists are known for their unique sense of rhythm.

I remember the cool, starry evenings of my childhood in the African bush of my childhood farm, sitting and quietly listening to the music of the night - distant drums of welcome to the gatherings of indigenous groups mingled with crickets and nightjars.
The sounds of that era are etched into my soul.
I particularly loved the rhythm of indigenous African drumming...
The drummer beat his own stories, energised with the passion of his music.
As a result, I searched for years and years for a particular African drum. I had my own parameters for this purchase. I didn't want a "touristy" one, but rather one that had the deep tone which I remember from those solitary evenings. I didn't mind what it looked like so long as the tone spoke to me.

My search took years but I was eventually rewarded...
Whilst on holiday near the Kruger National Park one year, my husband and I stopped by a roadside stall. I admit it was a 'tourist hive', but we'd stopped for lunch and I couldn't resist scouting around to see what we, as South Africans, were offering our visitors.

Well there, in a dusty corner, behind a lot of things, stood a drum. It really had become lost amidst the offerings of the store but I stood and stared and silently felt that my dream was about to be answered.  

A weary shop assistant walked up to me...
"Please may I try your drum?", I tentatively asked.
It took two people to relieve it from its bondage and they stood it before me.
My hands lifted into the air (...old habits die hard ) and I beat out its stagnant sound.
It resounded into life...
(This drum can be played whilst standing up or lying it on the floor and straddling it)
What beauty to my ears!
It's resonance spoke of ages gone by!
It's feel told the story of the animal skin which had given it its life!
It was perfect!
They told me that it had been scuptured in central Africa somewhere and had stood there for ages.
Yes, it was perfect but it was HUGE!
We had been travelling in a small car brimmed with our holiday luggage.
How on earth were we going to transport my prize across the 600km home to Johannesburg?
I thought for a while and then said to the shop assistant.

"If by some magic we can fit this drum into our boot, then I will take it! If it doesn't fit, then sadly I will have to leave it behind!"

Soon there was a possy of people buzzing around our vehicle.  All had the goal of emptying our luggage and repacking it to make space for my drum. Our items were strewn over that dusty carpark.

It took an hour's work, but we finally squeezed it in!
I must admit, it was a long, uncomfortable journey home, but it was worth it!

The top of the drum is covered in an animal skin - stretched out to provide the correct tension.
 It has been well played over time and ironically...
if you look carefully at is playing surface you can see the outline of Africa...


Well the African Drum found its home in urban Johannesburg!
AND...
You will hear it every New Year's eve in the countdown of the clock!

Any of you have any 'unique' musical instruments lurking?

Lotsaluv


10 comments:

Heather and Ellie said...

What an enchanting story! And the sillouette of Africa on the drum is just amazing. That really is a special drum.
I wish I could hear it played.

Mrs. JP said...

I'm smiling at the picture I have in my head of everyone trying to fit that drum in your car. Your hubby is patient!!
I have a sentimental post up - one little comment just wouldn't do. See what you started?? LOL

houndstooth said...

Your story reminded me of a local artist who came to our school for several years and made some amazing drums for us, with real animal skin and everything! I loved playing his drums and he taught me a lot, but what he really turned me on to more than drums was a crystal singing bowl! I love the sound the produce!

Khyra The Siberian Husky And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Oh to have pictures of the unpacking of the boot as they drum got strategically placed and then the resultant repacking!

Thanks for sharing this story -

Awesome drum!

TK said...

Drums are very special to us as well. We drum to meditate and drum to celebrate.
We are a musical family. Meaning- we love music, not that we are particularly talented at the creation of resonant sound.
There is the violin that I studied with/on for 10 years as a girl. It has long since lost its ability to make sound, but I can not bare to throw it away. The cello that I sometimes play when my husband is not in the house. And 20+ "Penny" whistles, the playing of which sets the cats to singing along in a most humorous fashion. I can't tell if the love it or hate it, but their earnest accompaniment always makes me laugh thereby ending the playing.

I'm glad you have your drum. And that you let its voice be heard!
TK's mom

Paxton said...

Hi Caryl

You sure brought back some memories with this story! And if I close my eyes, I hear what you heard! Wow - much water has flowed into the since those days.

Thank you for taking us back in time.

Lotsaluv
Shirley

Tweedles -- that's me said...

You are such a beautiful writer.
I do not want to stop reading your words.
We have no instrument that can be seen. But somewhere in my head- my soul is connected to past lives that I did not live.
In my heart I continuously think I hear the beating of American Indian drums in the distance.
In the forest- where we live.
I imagine these things and sometimes strain my ears to hear these imaginary drums beating in rhythm.
I also imagine chanting and singing.
I know your experience was real and mine is only make believe.
I wish I could have heard and felt the real thing like you did as a child.
Your drum is awsome- and I would love it too. Something to cherish- and it speaks to your heart.

tweedles mom

Scout and Freyja said...

Anything that makes noise in my home? Uhm, wish I could say that I was a talented flutist or pianist or drummer or even a hummer! Alas, for music the only things I can produce are CDs (classical, jazz, rock 'n roll, Celtic, gospel and something new you will read about in the next sentence)and my terrible voice. However, you may be interested that I have recently listened to the Soweto Gospel Choir and have bought a couple of their CDS.

Along with American Indian drummers I find the beat and general feeling of the Soweto Choir moves my soul, makes my body sway and elevates my heart to sing. I find their singing very comforting. However, Josh Groban is also a huge favorite of mine.

Music? What can I play? Sadly, not a thing...

Kira The BeaWootiful said...

As a family of musicians, both of my parents taught music, we have a small assortment of instruments around the house. My favorite was my grandfathers violin, which I started playing when I was around 8. I played through high school, but sadly put it aside for other things, at he time more important endeavors. It played the sweetest song.

-Kira The BeaWootiful's Mom

Joy said...

This is a great story. I hope you will share more stories about your life growing up. I keep thinking of Beryl Markham and her book, 'West With the Night', one of my most favorite books. She wrote a lot about her childhood in Africa.