Sometimes it’s just fun with a good drum to find that your hands are easy tapping and it sounds good through the ease of the thing and the moment with the person and the sound and it is. Good. With. A Drum.
After a workshop with Mamady Keita I am feeling very quiet and just calm with drumming. Drumming and me. My life’s experience with it so far, the different pulls it has had on me. I am currently thirty, and currently feeling calm: that I can play, keep playing and developing and learning and listening and expressing. And also: I don’t have to. For some reason this is very calming and freeing and easier than some of the more ambitious times when I was younger. Ambition is great and I look forward to more of it: but. But, for example, I don’t want or need to become totally proficient at djembe, so it is kind of freeing to learn something that I don’t feel as intensely for. Drumming, yes, rhythm, yes, celebration and joy and experience, yes. But I don’t have to do this particular style, I don’t have to do everything. I can do some things just on an experiential level, without competitiveness or self-judgement or self consciousness. Hurrah!
I now officially a published writer. Hooray.
My first (of, hopefully, many) published pieces was a short essay titled African Drumming in Australia: White Men Can’t Drum?
I was lucky to be asked to write on this topic, which I really enjoyed as I got to use my favourite approach, namely, reflecting on lived experience.
under soul soil until the word-fresh odour yields
until the language of nothing snaps back
the gifts of language-mind return,
recoil, the subtext shimmers across my scanning pupils and
i can also sieve the sylllables with whole fingers spread.
listening to the words that humans speak, that are projected around me
bus billboard brakes. ping down through the tilling mind to reinforce the pitch and tone, the meaning.
scribed on the mirror. serpent through days.
words remain, and are always gone. and circle around the inside skull, wondering if, what was meant, why say that? then? why that, this, what does that mean? mind is geared this way, and also looks underneath for the understudy. the undersoil, underside, fish guts of resonance and space.
Sometimes I have sad drum days; when my tone is not sharp enough, the drum is flat, I flatten, the drum circle disappoints. I find the competitive masculine spirit that can pervade exclusive and annoying and dumb and hard. But then I get frustrated with my sensitivity. And want to just do. Just solo. Just free myself of the heaviness that is the reaction to the soloing over othes.
P’raps it’s sensitivity, introversion. Being cultured female to be polite and considerate. And also desiring to honestly be considerate and participate in play zones of room for all, to the mostest. As opposed to struggling to be heard.
It’s also about practicing and having chops and wanting to show them, which is all good.
Lotsa things. Being Australian a bit. Not wanting to be judged as a show off. But then also wanting to be seen and heard. Too complex!
So I breathe, take a break, remind myself of the millions of beautiful musicians in the world that would probably be drowned out also.
I do feel like I have a lot more to offer as a drummer in my lifetime. So far it has been 12 years of drumming in my life, in different phases of intensity. I am curious as to how it will develop.
Ultimately I love it and it will be in me and hopefully, more and more, come out. Insh’allah.
I love to move. Have loved it since I realised. Since child self could follow with mind the sensation of being in moments through change. Being in body through change through movement. Through moments in space through joints and bending. Then plies and tendus. And finite litanies of changes and pas de bourree. And the feeling of it has always been the thing. Where it can lead, how it opens and repels and changes the mind self reflecting as it goes. Palms bounding off thighs and sweaty tops and body struggles and the reflective eyes watching this body this body that does. And again, it does, who? Who is this body that moves? What a blessing, moving being. Being watched sometimes while moving. Which can change the presence of mind. The presence of mind movement being watched changes present eyes. Yet. The thrill it can give to take that vulnerability of audience-performer mind games and take the ugly route. Be funny ugly. Especially if a girl and expected to want to be pretty sexy entrancing. To break unexpectedly moment by micro moment and creak into colliding modes of ugly courage.