I am now 71 yrs old and have been drumming free-form style since before I was old enough to hold a stick. I put my time in free-form anarchist hippy drumming “Crash Burn & Die” pit at the first 6 Rainbow gatherings. After thousands of hours and years of hippy thunder drumming, and free-form improvisational drumming, I asked my self’ “IS THAT ALL THERE IS?”…The answer was NO!
So I moved over to the Culturally Specific side of drumming, studied with a long list of African drumming masters (read the acknowledgments in my books), performed in many of their Dance & Drum ensembles, and drum for their Culturally Specific dance classes. After thousands of hours – and many years of Culturally Specific drumming, I wound up asking the same question again; “IS THAT ALL THERE IS?” …The answer was still: NO!
These are two sides of the same coin. One style of drumming does something that the other one cannot do. The In-The-Moment improvisational drummers see Culturally Specific drumming like a wild horse sees a corral, and the Culturally Specific drummers sees the free-form drummers as ignorant of the knowledge of basic musicality such as listening, sharing the rhythm space, interactive drumming dialog and harmonics. The Culturally Specific drummers see the thunder drummers as disrespectful to the aboriginal sources of rhythmical expression. AND THEIR BOTH RIGHT.
Is that all there is? NO. Where is the middle ground where freedom of expression and the understanding of Musicality exist? For me, it lives in a free-form drumming circle guided by a rhythm event facilitator who is supporting the group’s intention to play together, connect, make space for other people’s rhythm exploration while contributing their own rhythmical spirit into the In-The-Moment Rhythmical Alchemy.
A good Drum Circle Facilitator is following the people who are following them. But don’t get me wrong, I’m still sitting in those Crash – Burn & Die anarchist drum circles and wishing that the magic in-the-moment groove would last just a little longer before 2-3 or 4 egotistical-musically ignorant-drumming assholes decide to masturbate their solos on top of the magic and crush the delicate rhythm magic being created by the rest of the group. Can you say, “Crash Burn & Die”?
AND I am also still sitting with my culturally specific drumming friends while playing one rhythm part, for 45 minutes without stopping or changing. That simple little part is locked into a combination of rhythm parts creating an amazingly complex rhythm song, that has a name, a purpose and has been passed down from generation to generation.
There are Magic moments on both sides of the rhythm coin. But my preference is to be a drumming participant in a well-facilitated drum circle where facilitator’s only job description is to help us all get to and stay in the magic place where there is no ONE because we are all one at that moment, and where there is nowhere to go because we are already there. Regardless if you sit on one side of the drumming coin or the other, Share your spirit, not your prejudices. And you are invited to join me in the middle…
Share your Spirit . . . Arthur Hull