Drums are "a human thing"

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Drums are "a human thing"

Postby Miguel7 » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:29 am

What a weird title! Well, let me explain it (lol). My specialty as a musician is Puerto Rican music. Being from NY I love the salsa dura scene, and I play congas, bongos, timbales, hand percussion and piano. I also play merengue, but a very PR-influenced modern style. I play tambora, guira, and again the congas and piano. I also play traditional Puerto Rican styles like plena, bomba, and jíbaro music. I play the cuatro and guitar too. :)

Now I've read tons of history, especially of the congas,and one day I got together with a djembe-playing friend of mine. To me, congas are very much "a Cuban thing". That's where congas as we know them originated. But my friend argued that congas were "an African thing", equating conga with Congo and explaining what I already knew about African slaves being the ones who invented most of the drums commonly associated with Latin music. Then there are the panderetas or pleneras, which I see as a distinctly "Puerto Rican thing"; but Wikipedia and others tend to agree that the concept didn't originate there. And with the other "frame drums" (bodhrans etc) out there nobody can really deny that. Then you've got the maracas and guiro, which were Taíno inventions, and the related guira which is definitely a "Dominican thing".

But that we get so caught up in where these drums come from that we forget about where they're going. We currently have "LATIN percussion" drums made in Thailand (like my LP Aspires), "Dominican" tamboras made in the US, and maracas made in Mexico. And if you look up "Chicago bucket boys" on YouTube you'll see a bunch of outstanding drummers playing on platic buckets as if they were drums - and rockin' out! Then if you go into the mountain regions of both Puerto Rico and the US, you'll see people playing anything from cowbells to carved-up gourds to spoons to washboards to jugs as percussion instruments.

Now, leaving the present and returning to the past (sounds like "back to the future" lol), what I find to be absolutely awesome is that percussion goes back to the beginning of time. In Bible times they had "timbrels" (like tambourines) and cymbals. Before that, no doubt people still used sticks (like the modern claves or palitos) and whatever they could, much like the bucket boys of today and the mountain folk of yesterday. Long story short: people have always loved music and percussion has always been a part of that music.

So, what I'd like to suggest to anyone who's made it this far through my rambling is that the drums we enjoy aren't simply "a Cuban thing" or "an African thing" but rather "a human thing". No matter where you're from or what kind of music you like, these amazing instruments are here for you to enjoy and maybe even entertain others. So, while the history is interesting and sometimes controversial, let's never lose sight of that.

Have fun!
Miguel :D
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Re: Drums are "a human thing"

Postby GuruPimpi » Wed Apr 06, 2011 6:46 am

Miguel couldn't agree more!

If you into antropologic things you can read Mircea's Eliade book, Shamanism and archaic techniques of achieveing extasy, It is interesting that shamans, malachis, or any other term used for a man or woman who's role in a tribe was spiritual guidance, used everywhere, whether in sibiria, south america, europe, india, africe... used a drum as a tool to achieve a special state of mind... Rhythm and drum as one of the possible tool to make it is very human thing, everything else is a matter of imagination, creativity and possibilities...

Keep on grooving!

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Re: Drums are "a human thing"

Postby Gallichio » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:28 am

I agree,

I always say that music/sound is a gift from God to all of us and no one on Earth owns it.

Just like so many gifts given to us we still are trying to understand the many uses of Music.

It is very much a human thing. I do love the spin on music all the wonderful people around the world have put on it.

Keep Music in your heart and enjoy it.
All the Best!
Mike Gallichio
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Re: Drums are "a human thing"

Postby windhorse » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:05 am

Yep, I get what you mean,, it's OUR thing.. We're all in this together!
But really, we're all African! Current Scientific anthropological origins paradigm based on physical fossil evidence, but also mitochondrial DNA, is that we Homo Sapiens as well as Homo Erectus came from less than a thousand individuals from Africa,..
So, it all comes from Africa however you look at it!
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