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Native American Frame Drumming

28th Oct 2014

Since the beginning of time, drumming has been an important aspect of Native American life. In fact, drums have always been sacred in the cultures and drums are considered living entities. Frame drums, in Native American cultures, maintain the qualities of the lives that went into creating them. The plant whose life is used for the frame, the animal whose life is used for the skin and straps, these lives are still an important part of the Native American drum and are treated with the sanctity they deserve. For people who are not part of the culture, Native American frame drumming can be an introduction into a whole, new way of thinking and looking at drums.


While many of us think of drumming as an entertainment venture, in Native American cultures drumming carries deeper aspects. Frame drums are easy to make and are sacred. Looking for a supplier of frame drums is something that can teach a person a lot about various indigenous American cultures. Each tribe or community has its own beliefs around the frame drum, but in general, Native American frame drumming begins from a place of reverence. The drums are used as a way of speaking to the Great Spirit and the ancestors. As such, a lot of consideration goes into their construction and decoration.

Different Native American peoples have different decorating traditions with regard to their frame drums. For some, it is common to see pictures of animals or some representation of natural life. For others, it is typical to have geometric patterns painted onto the drums. A person new to Native American frame drumming might be interested in both or neither. If painting one’s drum, it is a good idea to use natural pigments from plants or rocks since the drum is considered a sacred, living instrument. Many frame drums can be played by hand, but most are created to be used with a beater. The heads of the beaters or sticks are often covered in leather or fur and are also part of the sanctity of the instrument.

Native American frame drums come in a variety of sizes, but most frame drums can now be found in portable, easy to carry sizing. It is not uncommon to see a frame drum that is meant to be handled by two or three drummers at a time, but many frame drums will be similar in size to a tambourine. The type of animal hide used for the head will vary the sounds produced and different tribes have different animals that were commonly used due to traditional location. No matter what materials used or which tribe one feels an affinity for, simply remembering that the Native American frame drum is a sacred tool will help draw out beautiful music.