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The Cultural Unity of Drumming

28th Oct 2014

Most drummers who participate in drum circles and other group drumming activities will share how connected the drumming makes them feel. No matter the person’s background or what type of drum is preferred, group drumming is consistently touted as a great way to help people bond better with each other, as well as feeling a greater connection to life itself. It is the support of interconnectedness that makes uniting cultures through drumming possible. Drumming has the unique capability of allowing people from every walk of life to feel unified during and after the session.

Every traditional culture throughout time has had its drum. Drums have been used for communication with mortals and immortals. Drums have been used to celebrate mortals and immortals. Across the globe, drumming has been part of the history of people both grounding themselves and transcending this world. With this shared history in mind, it becomes easier to imagine the possibilities of uniting cultures through drumming. Often, we think of differences when we consider various cultures, but drumming speaks to what joins us.

One way folks across the world are using drumming to unify is by having group drumming gatherings and drum circles. The gatherings are open to whoever wishes to participate, either as a drummer, a voice, or a dancer. Even non-participants add to the bonding energy by simply being present and aware. Drum circles and other informal gatherings don’t usually have a rule about what kind of drums to bring, so it is not unusual to see traditional African drums alongside traditional Indian or First Nations drums. Some people may bring tambourines and others may bring cajons. Regardless of the type of percussion instrument played, the group ends up tapping into the same energy.

Attempts at uniting cultures through drumming have many benefits. The most important may be that these activities help remind people that we are more than our belief systems or where our ancestors come from. Drumming together reminds us that it is possible to rise above our differences and connect one human being to another. It also reflects our ability to find harmony amidst seeming chaos. When the drumming first begins, it may not sound like everyone will be able to connect but eventually the music created becomes hypnotic and provocative.

There is something magical about watching people from different backgrounds come together and create beautiful music. Uniting cultures through drumming is just one of a myriad of ways drums help us become better people, more authentic and honest with one another than we might be otherwise. When it comes down to it, we are all pretty much the same and drumming, no matter the historical reference, helps us tap into that truth.