Listen to the imperative of the drum and you will become a guest in the drummer's world; a deep, prehistoric throbbing, marking time with the universe. But ask a drummer why they do it and you'll likely get a fairly prosaic answer along the lines of “because I love it". This might be disappointingly mundane for some spiritually minded people, but hidden within it is a fundamental truth - drumming can refresh and renew the soul, causing you to love life again. Of course for some it remains nothing more than an unholy racket!
Our infant brains are pre-programmed to find rhythm. Rhythms are fundamental - they open blocked energy channels and drive away destructive negativity, and they can help people into beneficial trances. Newborns find solace in the warm breast of a parent in part because they find the rhythmic heart beat soothing - many parents have recordings they made of mother's heart beating during pregnancy and use it to relax their child. Maybe the reason some folk are so appalled by drumming is because it touches a deep and unexplored part of them. In the same way others are addicted to the emotions that the drums call forth.
The very youngest kids keep time. When they are walking, when talking. . . they love rhymes and can find emotion in beating sounds. They are listening to their rhythmic emotions when they thrash away on the back of cooking pots and pan lids. Though most parents naturally want to end the racket they are making, scientists have found kids who are left to get their emotions out in this way have better psychologically balance! There are even studies that have linked improved IQ scores with drumming - it seems that kids with a well-developed sense of rhythm are better able to think complicated thoughts (Shallenber of the University of Toronto published a paper on this in 2001). Children with traumatic stress disorder can be helped with drumming therapy too.
The ability of drumming to reach deep down into our psyche is therefore not surprising. Drumming in many cultures represents a significant part of celebrations and gatherings. Around the fire individuals gather to dance to the polyrhythmic or shamanic rhythms of the drummers until trance-like states are reached. This helps anger and pent up emotions to be released. These cultures see this act as a means to reduce violence in their society and improve social relationships between their citizens. Drumming is felt to be a simple and honest act by a lot of drummers. Nothing is hidden. Beginning with the rudiments of drumming, it is only an individual's creativity that will take these rhythms to a new realm. Drumming, like running, is an aerobic activity often achieves a real high that can be addictive so that most drummers want to drum every day.
Ask a drummer and you may find they love the openness of their art - drumming leaves no where to hide. From the simple-seeming basics of the practice it takes deep and inspired creativity to make art. And because it is a very physical form of activity, many drummers get a sort of exercise addiction like the runner's high that keeps them returning to their drums day after day.
To share your love of drumming with fellow enthusiasts, check out several popular drumming magazines such as Modern Drummer (www.moderndrummer.com), visit drum chat forums such as Drummer World (www.drummerworld.com) or start with a visit to http://www.fordrum.com for a quick pointer to all kinds of drum resources.
Copyright 2006 Froggie Stevens. All rights reserved. Froggie Stevens is the resident instructor at Drum & Drummer , a leading web-site about drummers & drum gear. Don't miss the articles at: http://www.fordrum.com/articles/