Showing posts with label Native Drums. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Native Drums. Show all posts

Thursday, July 19, 2018


English: North Indian hand drum
North Indian hand drum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When one visits an Indian reservation pueblo or village, you can very likely hear the beautiful melodic tones of an Indian drum. Tradition plays a strong part in Native Songs and culture. The instrument that produces the most powerful sound is the Indian drum.

The type of Indian drums varies. Each Indian tribe constructs drums to their particular desire. Drums may be created with carved images of people. Or, other Indian tribes may choose animal designs to adorn their Indian drums. Some use jewels and color in northwest Indian drums. Drums are designed by hand and are particular to each drum maker.

Indian drums are very popular today. Many people of a variety of ethnic backgrounds use Indian drums in drumming groups and as rustic home décor. It is no longer difficult to find authentic Indian drum because of the use of the internet. And, in many locations and regions of the country, Indians drummers have businesses, offering their Native hand drums and handcrafts. In the western United States, and southwest, Indian drum is common in stores as well.  A large number of Indian tribes inhabit New Mexico and Arizona.

If you do not live close to Indian reservations, locating an authentic drum is not as easy, but can be accomplished easily online. Indian drums are come in many sizes and styles from small hand drums to large ceremonial drums.

When ordering an Indian drum, you can choose between shaman drums which are one-sided hand drums like the Plains Indians use or Tarahumara Indian hoop drums which are double-sided. Most drums may be played with the hand or by using a drum beater or tom-tom like. For ceremonies and drum circles pow wow drums are most desired for their deep low tones. Good powwow drums also have a base to hold the drum during use. Unlike frame drums or handdrums, ceremonial pow wow drums are always played with a beater. Some of the nicest Northwest Indian drums and most unique drums are created with cedar for a rich red and blond color.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Percussion instruments3
Percussion instruments3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anthropologists and historians repeatedly speculate that percussion instruments were the first musical apparatus ever came into being. But with the utmost certainty, the human voice was the first musical instrument, and surely, percussion tools such as feet, hands, rocks, sticks, and logs came in second to the on-going evolution of music. When humans developed tools for hunting and agriculture, their knowledge alongside with skill, enabled them to produce more complex tools. They use slit drum, made from a hollowed-out tree trunk. For instance, a simple log may have been shaped to generate louder tones (log drum) and may have been pooled to create numerous tones (set of log drums).

As time moved on, so is the evolution of percussion instruments. In the early 10th century, it was known that most tribes in Africa use sorts of percussions such as djembe, macaras used in Latin America, karimbas in Asia and seed rattles in Australia for their recreational and worship rituals and sometimes used in sending signals.

Percussion instruments that are displayed in orchestra first came from Asia Minor. In the 15th century, people began migrating east and brought with them numerous instruments. Our percussion instruments got their initial stages there when the Crusades took back the drums that they found in the Middle East. From then on, an evolution of percussion and drums kicked up a notch and assortments of percussion instruments came into being.

Percussion is categorized by a variety of criteria at times depending on their cultural origin, construction and function within the musical orchestration. It is generally referred as ?the heartbeat? of a musical ensemble, often functioning close collaboration with bass instruments if present.

Drums and percussions, as well as bass, are known as the rhythm section of the most popular music genres. Most classical pieces written for an orchestra since the time of Mozart and Haydn are schemed to put emphasis on strings, brass, and woodwinds. However, time and again they include a pair of timpani (kettle drums) although not played continuously. But moderately, they serve to offer additional accents when needed.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, more percussion instruments (like the cymbals or triangles) came to being and frequently, again moderately and cautiously played in general. The massive uses of percussion instruments become more recurrent in the 20th century, on classical music.

In almost all types of music, percussion plays a fundamental role. In a military parade, it is the strike of the bass drum that holds the soldiers' instep and at a normal speed, and it is the snare that endows that crisp, vital air to the tune of a troop. In traditional jazz, one almost instantly thinks of the distinguishing rhythm of the hi-hats or the ride cymbal when the word "swing" is uttered. In more current popular music genres, it is almost impossible to name at least three or four rock, hip-hop, rap, funk, punk, techno, grunge, alternative and blues songs that don?t have some kind of percussive beat maintaining the tune in time.

Because of the mixture and wide assortments of percussive instruments, it is not unusual to find large musical gathering composed wholly of percussion. Rhythm, harmony, and melody are all evident and alive in these musical factions, and in live performances, they are quite a spectacle to see.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

NATIVE DRUMS - How to Tune Your Native Indian Drum

Tuning Native Drums
If your drum tone sounds flat and dull then it needs tuning, before we go into the "How to Tune" part, let's discuss factors that affect rawhide. Rawhide by its nature shrinks or expands depending on certain conditions. In cold, moist and humid weather or these types of environments rawhide expands. In hot and dry weather or when exposed to a heat source rawhide shrinks.

2007 Powwow
Photo   by Smithsonian Institution
Now, armed with this knowledge about rawhide we can use it to our advantage to tune our drum to that perfect tone we want. When your drum tone is flat and dull and the rawhide appears to be loose then you need to get the rawhide to tighten. We now know that exposing our drum to a heat source shrinks the rawhide.

Warning! Over exposing your drum to heat can lead to permanent damage. Please re-read that again, because whatever heat source you use it's important to know this. So don't place your drum in front or next to a heat source and walk away and forget about it. Ok, now that we have got that out of the way let us look at some different methods we can use to heat our drum which causes the rawhide to shrink and gives us a better tune/tone from our drum.

Methods to tune your Drum
  • Hair dryer - the quickest and easiest way to tune a drum. Start in the centre of the drum and work your way towards the edges. Should only take a few minutes.
  • Heat lamp - Place the drum in front of the heat lamp, once again should only take a few minutes. Periodically play your drum to test the tone.
  • Heater or fire place- Using this method it's important not to place the drum too close to the heat. If it's too hot for your hand then you need to move the drum further away.
  • Campfire - The preferred method of Native Indians to tune their drums. Most of us have seen the image of Native Indians dancing around the fire beating on their drums. Just make sure you do not place your drum too close to the naked flames.

Each of the above methods works well, just make sure you do not over do it. By that I mean, leave the drum in front or too close to the heat source for too long. If you do, over time the rawhide will become over stretched and eventually lose its natural elastic quality.

Also, if you over do it the rawhide can shrink too much and damage the timber frame of the drum. Regardless of the method you use, test the tune of the drum as you go through the process by playing the drum until you are happy with the tone. Providing it's done correctly you can repeatedly use these methods without affecting the life span of the drum.

So far we have talked about ways to tune your drum if it sounds flat and dull. What if you have the opposite problem? On a hot dry day the drum may sound very high pitched; in this case, the best way to get the rawhide to loosen is by spraying or sprinkling small amounts of water on the rawhide.

Start from the edges of the drum and work your way to the middle. Let it rest for a few minutes then test the tone of the drum. Keep repeating until you have the desired tone. Avoid wetting the timber frame of the drum and just like the heating method don't over do it. In fact, use this method if you do over heat your drum to loosen the rawhide.

Other factors that affect the tune and tone of Native American Drums.
Besides environmental conditions, there are other factors that affect the tone and pitch of Native Indian drums. They are:
  • Size of the drum. Generally the larger the drum size, that includes the rawhide surface area, timber frame width and depth, the deeper the tone and more the tone resonates. Small drums tend to have a more sharp higher pitch. Although other factors come into effect which can affect the tune, tone and pitch, regardless of the size.
  • Rawhide thickness. In my experience rawhide thickness has the biggest effect on the tone of drums, particularly "Hoop Drums". The thicker the hide the deeper the tone and pitch. Thinner hides have a higher sharp pitch. So you can have a large drum with a thin hide which produces a high sharp pitch tune or a smaller drum with a thick hide that producers a deep long tune.

These are all important factors you need to take into consideration when selecting your drum.
Native Drums in Australia