Universal Heartbeat: World Cultures and Community Drumming
Offered at Tufts University, Spring Semester, 2000, 1999, 1998, and 1997
Instructor: Morwen Two Feathers, M.A.
This course examines the connections between two phenomena: 1.) the rise of "world culture" and multiculturalism in the last quarter of the twentieth century, and 2.) the growth of "community drumming", a new form of musical and creative expression which has become increasingly popular in the last ten years. The course includes both sociological inquiry and hands-on instruction in drumming. Topics include: the ancient history of the drum, the use of the drum in "traditional" cultures, issues of appropriation of traditional cultures by the modern drumming movement, and how drumming builds community, as well as basic drumming technique, learning to play specific rhythms, creating improvisational music with drums and percussion, and drum circle facilitation techniques. Optional topics that the students can choose to explore include drumming and healing, particular drumming tradition(s), and gender issues related to drumming in either traditional or modern culture.
This course is appropriate for those with or without previous drumming experience.
Morwen Two Feathers
M.A. in Sociology, and is the co-founder and director of Earth Drum Council, creating opportunities for people from all walks of life to experience the spirit of the drum. She is the author of several articles on the social roles of drumming, and has been exploring the relationship of drumming to consciousness and community for ten years.
Drum circles have been seen as a "fad" that has become popular in the last ten years or so, yet in reality this phenomenon is much more than an ephemeral expression of popular culture. Community drumming touches on many issues, including multiculturalism, racism and cultural appropriation, the mind/body relationship and healing, group dynamics and communication, personal growth and spiritual development, and more.
This course is intended to put the community drumming movement in its proper context, at the same time that it provides access to this powerful form of self-expression. Students will leave with some knowledge of the history and cultural traditions of the drum and with practical tools for not just participating in community drumming, but also facilitating the use of drumming in groups, understanding how drumming affects individual consciousness and group dynamics, and how drumming may be used as a healing tool. This course will provide useful background and skills for students interested in music therapy, social psychology, history, management, and ethnomusicology. It will also be fun.
World Culture and Community Drumming Spring Semester, 2000
Books and Articles:
Blank-Edelman, David. "Interview with Arthur Hull", Percussion Source, Vol. 1, #1, 1995.
Charry, Eric. "A Guide to the Jembe", published on the Internet, expanded version of article appearing in Percussive Notes Vol. 34#2, April 1996.
Multicultural Bibliography/Resource list of Lift Every Voice
Earth Drum Council, newsletter articles and handout materials
The Encyclopedia of Religion: Drums (photocopy)
"The Rhythm of Recovery," Kansas City Star, 10/2/99
"Drumming Wellness: The Beat Expands," Awareness Magazine, July/August 1999
"A Management Rage: Beating the Drums for the Company", Wall St. Journal, 8/13/96
"They Drum as One to Tap Into Life's Rhythms", Hartford Courant, 9/11/95
"Drumming for the 90's: Much More Than a Beat," New York Times, 11/3/93
"Heeding the Call of the Drums", Newsweek, 6/24/91
Chernoff, John Miller. African Rhythm and African Sensibility, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979.
Kristel, Dru. Breath Was the First Drummer, QX Publications, Santa Fe, NM, 1995.
Hart, Mickey. Drumming at the Edge of Magic, Harper San Francisco, 1990.
______. Planet Drum, Harper San Francisco, 1991.
Tannenbaum, Frank. Slave and Citizen, Vintage Books, New York, 1946. A treatise about the slave trade, which, while not explicitly about the drum, is a fascinating analysis of the difference in the systems of slavery between the Western Hemisphere colonies of Britain and those of Spain and Portugal (the latter of which now have living "traditional" drumming cultures).
Laurent Chevalier's Djembefola Interama Video, 301 West 53rd St, Suite 19E, New York, NY 10019 (212) 977-4830
Babatunde Olatunji, African Drumming
Arthur Hull, Guide to Endrummingment Interworld Instructional Video, RD3 Box 395A, Brattleboro VT 05301, (800) 698-6705
Jim Grenier, Community Drumming for Health and Happiness, Latin Percussion, 160 Belmont Ave, Garfield NJ 07026
The Internet is rich with information by and about the drumming movement. The "djembe list" or djembe-l, is a usenet/bullitin board forum about hand drumming, especially West African djembe drumming, with over 400 subscribers, including many well-known members of the international drumming community. Information exchanged there ranges from how to make a drum to notations for particular rhythms to lively discussion about the issues in the drumming movement. A selection of the djembe-l archives, compiled in Fall 1996, is included in class readings. You may access the djembe-l archives by clicking here.