Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thursday's Children - Drum Circles

Last weekend, I was able to participate in the March Against Monsanto with my mom and my oldest son. After the march there was a drum circle, and I love me some drum circles. My son, who drums incessantly to any rhythm playing, decided that he'd like to come along too. We had a blast.

If anyone is unfamiliar with the idea of a drum circle, it's basically a bunch of people coming together to hang out for an hour or two and play hand drums and other percussion instruments. 

It's also much more than that.

Other than my son, I only knew one other person in the group, but we plopped ourselves on the grass with about ten or twelve strangers and formed a circle. The woman facilitating the gathering suggested we all start together with a two tap heartbeat pattern. We all played together for a few minutes and then things started to change.

Here and there, people started to change things up. New rhythms evolved. Everyone was doing something a little different, but it all worked perfectly to complement the whole sound. There were five or six little kids running in and out of the group - occasionally picking up an instrument and playing with it or more often, just dancing around. It might sound a little chaotic, and really, it kind of was. But it was also really cool watching and listening to everything evolving organically to create this wonderful whole that couldn't possibly be duplicated.

In a way, it's like communicating through sound. Each person's rhythm changes to answer another person's. Sometimes, it's complementary. Sometimes it contrasts sharply. Just like actualy conversations.

As I sat there drumming, I realized something important - drumming in a circle of people - especially mostly strangers - is a lot like writing. Or, at least, it's a lot like my writing process. I typically start out a story with one, really solid idea or beat. And as I write and new characters and plot threads revel themselves. Sometimes they're complementary and sometimes not so much. But as I write, the rhythm of the story changes, growing fuller and more complex until I've got this organic whole that I created by listening to the beat of the story and characters.

In case anyone is wondering what a drum circle looks like, here are a few pictures and one of the drum I made.






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22 comments:

  1. Sounds like a really powerful experience. I like how you compare the drum circle to the writing process.

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    1. It was a wonderful experience! I can't wait to go to another! :)

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  2. I like your drum--especially the design. Love your analogies and agree. It's always about connecting (interacting with other drummers) and as the plot deepens, the drums in my head beat louder and the pace quickens. :)

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    1. Thank you, D.D. - I agree; it's the connection that's most important!

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  3. I like listening to drums, they're very primal, but I have severe music-perfomance anxiety so I'd be far too intimidated to participate. Sounds like you had a blast!

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    1. Sometimes, drum music is the best stuff to write to! :)

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  4. That is so cool! I love the beat of drums (my husband was a drummer in his youth) and I see the similarity to writing. Maybe that's why music is so inspiring to us writers. Great post, Chris! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kate! The beat of the drums is so inspiring. I think I might need another circle to get me inspired today. ;)

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  5. Chris, you are, like, sixteen kinds of cool.

    We've rapped about drum circles before. I love that you're exposing your son to such amazing experiences, and teaching him about civic responsibility, to boot!

    Down with Monsanto! Rock on, lady!

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    1. Awww, thanks Laura! :D *HUGS* I'm so glad he wanted to participate and is invested in improving the world. He's an awesome guy. :D

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  6. Very interesting post. This sounds like a fun thing to do! And it's nice you got to do it with your son :)

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    1. It was especially great to share it with him. :)

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  7. I love, love, love this post, Chris! I have never participated in a drum circle, but I've always wanted to. I may have to let one of my characters do it for me. Thanks for this!
    ~Dannie @ Left to Write

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    1. Dannie, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it! And definitely, in the meanwhile, let your character go play! :D

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  8. What a fun experience. I've been to drum concerts and I used to have a neighbor who hosted drum circles, but I've never been in one. That's something I'd like to try.

    http://www.miaceleste.com/?p=341

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    1. I would have loved living next to your neighbor! :D

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  9. Sounds like you had a blast! I live on an island that's very laid back, and you can stumble across impromptu drum circles almost anywhere, especially in the summer months. Though I've never participated, I love hanging around and letting the kids dance around to the beat. I have a feeling my daughter will be in one as soon as she can hold a drum in her lap.

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    1. Okay, now I just want to live where you live. Surrounded by water *and* impromptu drum circles? Sounds like heaven!

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  10. Wow, sounds (and looks) awesome! Drumbeats are great at bringing people together, and signalling change too. I use them a lot in my MS's when I want to build tension. There's just something about that beat....

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I love the idea of drumbeats bringing people together and signalling change - so true!

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  11. Sounds like a great jam session love your understanding of creating the beat and the story until the rhythm leads you through. Or som' in like that. Your drum circle was so visual I heard the drums. Love drum circles.

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  12. "creating the beat and the story until the rhythm leads you through" Perfect description, Karen! Love it!

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