Arturo Rodriguez http://arturorodriguez.com Latin Percussionist • Afro Cuban Instructional Books • Music Education • Afro Cuban Rhythms • DJ Mon, 11 Feb 2019 23:06:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.4 Live Jazz Concert in Edmonds http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/08/02/live-edmonds/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/08/02/live-edmonds/#comments Wed, 02 Aug 2017 14:47:55 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=881 Arturo Rodriguez and his Rhythm Ambassadors served up a generous helping of cool jazz to the Tuesday lunchtime crowd at Hazel Miller Plaza, the latest offering in Edmonds Arts Commission’s 2017 Summer Concert series. The music, featuring familiar selections from the likes of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis interspersed with original material, was the perfect […]

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Arturo Rodriguez and his Rhythm Ambassadors served up a generous helping of cool jazz to the Tuesday lunchtime crowd at Hazel Miller Plaza, the latest offering in Edmonds Arts Commission’s 2017 Summer Concert series.

The music, featuring familiar selections from the likes of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis interspersed with original material, was the perfect complement to a warm summer day.

Sponsored by the Hazel Miller Foundation, the Tuesday noon series runs through Aug. 24. More information on this and the Sunday City Park Concerts is available on the Edmonds Arts Commission website.

— Photos by Larry Vogel

Performance at Miller Park

 

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Clave is the Key http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/05/17/clave-is-the-key/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/05/17/clave-is-the-key/#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 00:15:57 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=839 (Excerpt from the self-study book entitled Tradtional Afro Cuban Concepts in Contemporary Music Rhythms for Drum Kit, Multiply Congas, Timbales and Bongo, by Arturo Rodriguez – Mel Bay Publications) Clave There are many styles of music in the world that use twelve and sixteen-space matrix’s to create rhythm. So what separates one from another? The answer is both […]

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(Excerpt from the self-study book entitled Tradtional Afro Cuban Concepts in Contemporary Music Rhythms for Drum Kit, Multiply Congas, Timbales and Bongo, by Arturo Rodriguez – Mel Bay Publications)

Clave

There are many styles of music in the world

that use twelve and sixteen-space matrix’s to  create rhythm.  So what separates one from  another?  The answer is both cultural and  environmental, but the end result is a  fingerprint that uniquely identifies the  origins of the music.  

In the contemporary styles we will explore in this course, the phrase that is the key to understanding the music lies in the rhythmic pattern called clave (pronounced “clah’- vay”).

Clave is a five-note phrase that repeats  after every fourth down beat.  The clave  phrase syncopates the pulse and begins to add  swing to the music.  Clave is the key to  understanding how Afro- Cuban music is  arranged and flows. There are many types of  clave rhythms each of them specific for that  certain style of music.  
Clave is much more then just a rhythmic  phrase that must be learned though. It is a  concept that is fundamental to Afro-Latin  music. Clave is to Afro- Cuban music as the  backbone is to the human body or roots are to  a tree. Without it, a human or a tree just  couldn’t stand up! But clave is also a  complicated concept to understand, especially  for those who have never had an upbringing  that was infused with Afro- Cuban music. Here  are some very important points about clave  that will serve you well though:  

 Clave is inherent in all aspects of Afro- Cuban music

  ...From rhythm to melody, in order to     understand completely an Afro- Cuban     musical piece, you must learn it first     from the perspective of the clave pattern.  

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The Benefits of Drumming http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/04/05/the-benefits-of-drumming/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/04/05/the-benefits-of-drumming/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 17:06:54 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=804 by Project Resiliency The Benefits of Drumming The word rhythm in Greek means to flow. Drumming is a path of healing that guides us into experiencing the flow of our mind and emotions so we may grow to experience more about our soul.   Drumming gives us an experience where we can be free to connect with […]

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by Project Resiliency

The Benefits of Drumming

The word rhythm in Greek means to flow. Drumming is a path of healing that guides us into experiencing the flow of our mind and emotions so we may grow to experience more about our soul.

 

Drumming gives us an experience where we can be free to connect with ourselves and others, in order to release, restore and heal. It is a universal language where all people can be a part, free from words and concepts so we can experience life with an open heart.

Drumming supports individuals, families and communities during times of joy, sadness and change. As we drum together the rhythm can bring us closer to one another with respect and courage as we move towards healing wounds and restoring hope.

Therapeutic Effects

Current research now shows the therapeutic effects of drumming techniques. Research indicates that drumming accelerates physical healing, boosts the immune system. In addition specific studies conducted by professionals in the fields of music therapy and mental health show us that drumming:

  • Reduces tension, anxiety and stress
  • Helps control chronic pain
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Releases negative feelings, blockages and emotional trauma

In a specific study conducted by Barry Bittman, MD, group drumming actually increases cancer-killing cells, which help the body combat cancer as well as many other viruses.

 

Life Quality Effects

Drumming induces deep relaxation, lowers blood pressure, produces feelings of well-being, a release of emotional trauma and reduces stress.

Stress, according to current medical research, contributes to nearly all diseases and is a primary cause of such life-threatening illnesses as heart attacks, strokes and immune system breakdowns. Chronic pain, which many of our veterans experience, has a progressively draining effect on the quality of life.

Research suggests that drumming serves as a distraction from pain and grief. Specifically, drumming promotes the production of endorphins and endogenous opiates, the bodies own morphine-like pain killers, and can thereby help to control pain.

 

Community Effects

Drum Circles also provide an opportunity for participants to feel connected with others and gain a sense of interpersonal support. A drum circle provides an opportunity to connect with your own spirit at a deeper level. Group drumming alleviates self-centeredness, isolation and alienation. There are great benefits to feeling connected to others, especially those in similar situations.

Specific studies show:

  • Creates a sense of connectedness with self and others
  • Helps us experience being in resonance with the natural rhythms of life
  • Provides a medium for individual self-realization

 

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Online Drum and Percussion Lessons http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/03/07/on-line-drum-lessons/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/03/07/on-line-drum-lessons/#comments Tue, 07 Mar 2017 07:59:05 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=686 Study drums and percussion with me from anywhere in the world and in the comfort of your own home or studio. Private online lessons over Skype or any other on line video chat program is easy to set up and super convenient.  Lessons can include different types of traditional and contemporary forms of music, foundation concepts, exercises to improve your […]

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Study drums and percussion with me from anywhere in the world and in the comfort of your own home or studio. Private online lessons over Skype or any other on line video chat program is easy to set up and super convenient.  Lessons can include different types of traditional and contemporary forms of music, foundation concepts, exercises to improve your speed, coordination, sense of timing, mechanical independence and soloing ideas. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a professional, as your specific needs can be targeted. Lessons are offered on a wide variety of hand drums and percussion including congastimbalesbatadrum kitbongocajon, and smaller percussion instructions such as shekere and guiro.

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to set up online lessons. If you have a smart phone, computer, or tablet with an integrated camera, you can take a lesson. Email,  Skype or Phone to get started today.

 

 

If you have ever studied with me on line, I would love to hear from you.

Please, tell me what you where studying and your favorite part of the lessons?

Thank you for participating and helping me bring you closer to your dreams. Please include your name and where you live?

Thank you,  Arturo Rodriguez – Rhythm Ambassador 🙂

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Rhythm Ambassadors – school assemblies and residencies http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/02/07/school-programs/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2017/02/07/school-programs/#comments Tue, 07 Feb 2017 03:48:11 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=654 The post Rhythm Ambassadors – school assemblies and residencies appeared first on Arturo Rodriguez.

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Grandview Video 2017

Arturo Rodriguez & the Rhythm Ambassadors visit Grandview.

Arturo Rodriguez & the Rhythm Ambassadors visited Smith, McClure & HT on Jan. 30-Feb. 1. During Rodriguez’s visit he met with every grade level at each school for about 20 to 30 minutes each. During the visit he taught students a few simple dance steps and a little bit about rhythm. Then he held an all-school assembly, giving kids a chance to show off what they’d learned.

If you took part in our Rhythm Ambassador Programs this year we would love to hear from you.

Tell us what your favorite part of the program was or anything that stood out for you.

We are about inspiring the next generation. Being good role models, opening up communication and getting people to work together in a fun creative environment is what it’s all about.

Thank you for participating and helping us bring culturally diversified interactive shows to schools. Use the form below. If you can give us your name, grade you teach and the school your representing.

Arturo Rodriguez – Rhythm Ambassador 🙂

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Meditation http://arturorodriguez.com/2016/12/13/meditation/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2016/12/13/meditation/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2016 00:36:58 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=582 A beginners guide to Meditation Back in college, studying physiology in the pre-med program at UC Davis, the competition was fierce.  The intensity of 500 ‘red hot’ students, striving to become the next doctor or veterinarian, invigorated me.  There was so much information to learn. I needed something to help give me an edge, to improve my ability to […]

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A beginners guide to Meditation

Back in college, studying physiology in the pre-med program at UC Davis, the competition was fierce.  The intensity of 500 ‘red hot’ students, striving to become the next doctor or veterinarian, invigorated me.  There was so much information to learn. I needed something to help give me an edge, to improve my ability to concentrate, focus and retain information. Really, do not remember who it was, but someone mentioned meditation as an important tool to help.  Therefore, I began practicing for at least an hour every day. At the same time, I was also taking a course on Biofeedback. Did not know it at the time, but the combination of these two disciplines changed my life forever.

Meditation is so important for creating the space for growth. It helps to maintain our psychic, emotional and physical balance and opens up an opportunity to use imagery. Biofeedback is a scientific technique used to train the control over autonomic functions that are happening in the background subconsciously– like galvanic skin response, blood flow, heart rate and electrical brain functions. This new science was originally developed to study and tries to understand what the Yoga masters in India where doing.

Biofeedback

An EEG can measure electrical brain activity or states of being. Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta are the names given for each state. Each state of being represents a certain level of consciousness. When we are fully awake and working at full capacity it is Gamma state. Delta is at the opposite end when we are in deep REM sleep. Each of these states is important and reflects our overall health and wellbeing.

Now, let us get back to our yoga masters and nirvana. The state that these masters where exhibiting while in a trance was Alpha which is now known to be the state of many amazing attributes including relaxation, visualization, pleasure, joy and most of all, increased psychic and artistic development and the expression of these.

In college, I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Lawrence, who at that time was the authority on biofeedback and using those tools. I began training with him using both biofeedback and meditation. After about a month I was able get into a deep Alpha state in minutes and stay in it for a very long time. As a result, my studying improved, my grades went up and my gymnastics scores increased.

I am sharing this to inspire you to look into meditation as a viable tool for you to use in your daily life, especially if you are an artist of any type. Following is short video for you to use. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you would like help or more explanation.

Meditation Guide Video

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Group Drumming http://arturorodriguez.com/2016/11/03/group-drum-class/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2016/11/03/group-drum-class/#respond Thu, 03 Nov 2016 02:14:17 +0000 http://arturorodriguez.com/?p=548 Learning to play traditional forms of music in a group I believe is the most accessible and quickest way for beginners to start experiencing the music making process. Traditional forms of music requires many people to play in unison in order to complete the drum kit where as contemporary forms usually have one main drummer. […]

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Learning to play traditional forms of music in a group I believe is the most accessible and quickest way for beginners to start experiencing the music making process. Traditional forms of music requires many people to play in unison in order to complete the drum kit where as contemporary forms usually have one main drummer.  Learning how to sound as one drum kit with multiple individuals creates an environment in which everyone involved understands how rhythmic interactions/polyrhythms work, thus developing your hearing, feel and groove.

Music, exsists in every corner of the globe and in all cultures, It’s part of our DNA. I believe it’s genetically in everyone of us to play music. The way I teach music has evolved for many years. I try to create an open fun environment and It doesn’t matter what your skill level is everyone should be able to be apart of the music making process.

The power of playing music and drums in a group is exhilarating, you’ll see it on people’s faces! It doesn’t matter your level, age or ability, everyone can participate. Good music requires everyone to learn to work together promoting no competition. It’s magnetic and you can feel its power and energy.

Group Drumming Class Schedule and Locations

 

 

 

 

 

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Rhythm Ambassador Programs http://arturorodriguez.com/2016/08/20/school-programs-2/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2016/08/20/school-programs-2/#respond Sat, 20 Aug 2016 21:22:20 +0000 http://nationalmusiciandirectory.com/?p=197 It’s hard to imagine a gym full of elementary school children could be so quiet, but when Seattle musician Arturo Rodriguez challenged their listening skills that’s exactly what happened. “The listening skill, that’s everything,” Rodriguez told the students, before he banged out a rhythm on his cajone drum. He played a rhythm, then asked the […]

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It’s hard to imagine a gym full of elementary school children could be so quiet, but when Seattle musician Arturo Rodriguez challenged their listening skills that’s exactly what happened.

“The listening skill, that’s everything,” Rodriguez told the students, before he banged out a rhythm on his cajone drum. He played a rhythm, then asked the students play it back using the gym floor as their drum.

The response was tremendous and right on the beat.

Rodriguez is the latest in a series of musicians who have visited the Grandview School District this year. Rodriguez, a drummer, brought along his friends guitarist Leif Totusek and dancer Etienne Cakpo, and together the three wowed crowds of students at all three elementary schools and the middle school.

Rodriguez was brought in through the district’s Musician in Residence program. This year the district partnered with musician Cody Beebe, who has been working to bring different musicians and experiences into the district.

For Rodriguez visiting schools is something he loves to do.

“It’s so important to be able to connect with the kids,” Rodriguez said. “This is the next generation. They’re the ones who will be making the changes in our world.”

During each assembly Rodriguez talked to students about the different drums he uses, including the bongo, conga and cajone. He talked about each of the drums’ origins in music and a little bit about the time he spent in West Africa learning about music and drums.

Rodriguez also introduced students to different musical rhythms. He talked about what he called the music triangle – how historically music traveled from Cuba, to Vera Cruz, Mexico to New Orleans.

And most importantly, Rodriguez made sure to include the students in the music he was making. Kids were given different rhythms to clap out, while he drummed, Totusek played the guitar and Cakpo danced.

“You have to let go of your ego. You have to then become part of the music,” Rodriguez said.

Really, Rodriguez just hopes that students walked away from his presentation with hope.

“Hopefully this gets them inspired to play music,” Rodriguez said. “It’s so important for your corazon – your heart.”

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7 Ways Taking Up The Drums Will Improve Your Life http://arturorodriguez.com/2015/11/16/drums-improve-life/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2015/11/16/drums-improve-life/#respond Mon, 16 Nov 2015 22:46:39 +0000 http://nationalmusiciandirectory.com/?p=226 by Alex Morris (Reposted from Lifehack.org) Percussion is an exciting and health boosting activity which is noted by the scientific community for its ability to alleviate modern day stresses. Renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks states in Musicophilia all humans, “can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch, intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally) rhythm. We integrate all of […]

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by Alex Morris (Reposted from Lifehack.org)

Percussion is an exciting and health boosting activity which is noted by the scientific community for its ability to alleviate modern day stresses. Renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks states in Musicophilia all humans, “can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch, intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally) rhythm. We integrate all of these and ‘construct’ music in our minds using many different parts of the brain. And to this largely unconscious structural appreciation of music is added an often intense and profound emotional reaction.”

Drumming promotes a rhythm intrinsically acquired from ancient humans. Whilst it’s a primal activity, the health benefits are now understood to be highly beneficial. This is how to tap into the physical and psychology highs of the drumming world.

Drummers

1. It’s fun!

Playing the drums is great fun. No matter your ability level, it’s a highly enjoyable way of awakening primitive rhythms. As neurologist Dr Barry Bittman (CEO of the Yamaha and Wellness Institute in Pensylvania) has stated, “Drums are accessible and don’t present the challenge of a learning curve – anyone regardless of handicap can sit and beat out a rhythm on a drum.”

Drumming can be a tremendous social experience, enhancing the fun factor. Dr. Bittman has championed group music therapy in a paper titled Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music TherapyIn this he claims, “Response to rhythm is basic to human functioning, making these percussion activities and techniques highly motivating to people of all ages and backgrounds.”

2. A boost for the immune system.

A study led by Dr. Bittman suggests drumming is good for the immune system. He acknowledges“Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin.” His research has demonstrated how a group drumming session (which he has dubbed a HealthRhythm) can create illness-killing cells, which could protect the body.

The research is cited extensively in the drumming community, such as with specialists Remo: “Remo’s Health Rhythms Department is on the forefront of establishing a solid foundation for proving the biological benefits of drumming. Neurologist Barry Bittman, M.D. and his renowned research team discovered that a specific group drumming approach (HealthRHYTHMS protocol) significantly increased the disease fighting activity of circulating white blood cells (Natural Killer cells) that seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally-infected cells.”

3. Intellectual development. 

It’s suggested drumming can lead to greater cognitive functioning. This is especially important with younger generations. Stanford University researched the effects of 20 minutes of rhythmic music with middle-school boys struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder. The results led to a boost in IQ scores and improved concentration. Howard Russell, a clinical psychologist involved in the study, said, “For most of us, the brain is locked into a particular level of functioning. If we ultimately speed up or slow down the brainwave activity, then it becomes much easier for the brain to shift its speed as needed.”

Although further research is needed for conclusive evidence, studies to date are encouraging for musical therapy.

4. Social and creative development.

Drumming can be enjoyed by everyone and unites all cultures and ages across the world. Drummers can join bands, meet new people, and contribute to songs, whilst through group therapy sessions people can forge lifelong friendships. It’s a global language everyone could, and should, be a part of.

5. Fitness.

Drumming makes for a fun way to exercise. The fitter you are the easier it is to play for longer periods of time, which provides an incentive to be healthy.

It’s well noted in the drumming community, with former drummer for The Clash, Nick Headon, pointing out, “Its a physical activity, it stimulates parts of the brain keeping the four limbs doing something different, and it is primeval as well – drums were the first instrument: before music, people were banging things together.”

6. Pain relief. 

Research from group drumming sessions suggests it is a sufficient distraction to alleviate pain, even if it’s chronic. The activity promotes endorphin production and endogenous opiates – these are the human body’s natural painkillers. It can also distract attention away from grief.

7. Combat stress, depression, and neurological conditions.

Dr. Barry Bittman’s research indicates drumming relaxes people, which helps lower blood pressure and reduces stress. The latter is a contemporary issue which contributes to many health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Modern life demands time for proper relaxation, and drumming offers a stress free activity where people can let themselves go.

Even more encouraging are the results suggesting drumming can alleviate serious neurological conditions. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, in his book Musicophilia, has noted the ability of natural rhythms to assist people with their troubles: “While music can affect all of us – calm us, animate us, comfort us, thrill us, or serve to organize and synchronize us at work or play – it may be especially powerful and have great therapeutic potential for patients with a variety of neurological conditions.” Research is ongoing, but in the coming years we can hope for encouraging news.

Types of Drums

Drum kit

If you’re interested in taking up percussion, there are numerous options available. Whilst a drum kit is arguably the most famous form, there are accessible alternatives: congas, tambourines, wood blocks, xylophones, tablas, and tom-toms. These can be picked up at a cheap price.

To keep expenditures to a minimum, household objects (such as pots, pans, and plastic containers) can be assembled to create a makeshift kit. This is a popular technique for many street drummers across the world. Elsewhere, you could attend group music/therapy sessions in your community – an ideal way to meet new people and get started.

Drum kits can be expensive and won’t be ideal for everyone, although second hand kits can be well priced and are perfect for beginners. If you live in a flat and don’t want to annoy your neighbors, you could consider electronic kits. They’re ideal for silent playing, but vary in affordability.

Useful Drumming Tutorials

For anyone eager to get onto a kit, do note few people have the natural ability to play brilliantly instantaneously. Don’t be put off by this – it takes time to develop the required skills. There are simple rudiments you can learn to get started, which you can find on free tutorial sites such as Drum LessonsFree Drum Lessons, or Drum Channel (which offers a free trial).

YouTube has thousands of free guides for budding drummers; there are channels dedicated to techniques and tips (such as Drum Channel or Drumeo). YouTube is also a source of historical footage of legendary drummers in action – watching them play is vital for tips. Notable drummers for inspiration include: Ginger Baker, Reni, Jaki Liebezeit, Levon Helm, Art Blakey, Joe Morello, John Bonham, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa.

Even at the most fundamental level you can purchase some drum sticks and practice on a cushion at home. From here you can enjoy the full benefits of a wonderfully productive, ancient activity.

About Alex Morris

67258a8517e92fed9e94b168d09d4a3dI’m a copywriter and journalist from England. I write about business, culture, and technology, but in my spare time I run a satirical blog called Professional Moron whilst writing novels and short stories. As I go about my duties I drink a lot of tea.

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6 Evidence – Based Ways Drumming Heals Body, Mind and Soul http://arturorodriguez.com/2015/11/15/drumming-health/ http://arturorodriguez.com/2015/11/15/drumming-health/#respond Sun, 15 Nov 2015 22:24:22 +0000 http://nationalmusiciandirectory.com/?p=214 From slowing the decline in fatal brain disease, to generating a sense of oneness with one another and the universe, drumming's physical and spiritual health benefits may be as old as time itself.

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Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder, GreenMedInfo

(© 2016 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more fromGreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.)

From slowing the decline in fatal brain disease, to generating a sense of oneness with one another and the universe, drumming’s physical and spiritual health benefits may be as old as time itself.

Drumming is as fundamental a form of human expression as speaking, and likely emerged long before humans even developed the capability of using the lips, tongue and vocal organs as instruments of communication.

To understand the transformative power of drumming you really must experience it, which is something I have had the great pleasure of doing now for twenty years. Below is one of the circles I helped organize in Naples Florida back in 2008, which may give you a taste of how spontaneous and immensely creative a thing it is (I’m the long haired ‘hippie’ with the gray tank top drumming like a primate in the background).

Anyone who has participated in a drum circle, or who has borne witness to one with an open and curious mind, knows that the rhythmic entrainment of the senses[i] and the anonymous though highly intimate sense of community generated that follows immersion in one, harkens back to a time long gone, where tribal consciousness preempted that of self-contained, ego-centric individuals, and where a direct and simultaneous experience of deep transcendence and immanence was not an extraordinarily rare occurrence as it is today.

This experience is so hard-wired into our biological, social and spiritual DNA that even preschool children as young as 2.5 years appear to be born with the ability to synchronize body movements to external acoustic beats when presented in a social context, revealing that drumming is an inborn capability and archetypal social activity.[ii]

drum

Even Bugs Know How To Drum

But drumming is not a distinctively human technology. The use of percussion as a form of musicality, communication, and social organization[iii], is believed to stretch as far back as 8 million years ago to the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans living somewhere in the forests of Africa.[iv]

For instance, recent research on the drumming behavior of macaque monkeys indicates that the brain regions preferentially activated by drumming sounds or by vocalizations overlap in caudal auditory cortex and amygdala, which suggests “a common origin of primate vocal and nonvocal communication systems and support the notion of a gestural origin of speech and music.”[v]

Interestingly, percussive sound-making (drumming) can be observed in certain species of birds, rodents and insects. [vi]  Of course you know about the woodpecker’s characteristic pecking, but did you know that mice often drum with their feet in particular locations within their burrow, both for territorial displays and to sound alarms against predators? Did you know that termites use vibrational drumming signals to communicate within the hive? For instance, soldiers threatened with attack drum their heads against tunnels to transmit signals along subterranean galleries, warning workers and other soldiers to respond accordingly.[viii]  See the video below for an example of termite drumming.

Percussion: Sound Waves Carry Epigenetic, Biologically Meaningful Information

Even more amazing is the fact that wasps appear to use antennal drumming to alter the caste development or phenotype of their larvae. Conventional thinking has held for quite some time that differential nutrition alone accounted for why one larvae develops into a non-reproductive worker and one into a reproductive female (gyne).  This is not the case, according to a 2011 study:

“But nutrition level alone cannot explain how the first few females to be produced in a colony develop rapidly yet have small body sizes and worker phenotypes. Here, we provide evidence that a mechanical signal biases caste toward a worker phenotype. In Polistes fuscatus, the signal takes the form of antennal drumming (AD), wherein a female trills her antennae synchronously on the rims of nest cells while feeding prey-liquid to larvae. The frequency of AD occurrence is high early in the colony cycle, when larvae destined to become workers are being reared, and low late in the cycle, when gynes are being reared. Subjecting gyne-destined brood to simulated AD-frequency vibrations caused them to emerge as adults with reduced fat stores, a worker trait. This suggests that AD influences the larval developmental trajectory by inhibiting a physiological element that is necessary to trigger diapause, a gyne trait.” [vii]

waspThis finding indicates that the acoustic signals produced through drumming within certain species carry biologically meaningful information (literally: ‘to put form into’) that operate epigenetically (i.e. working outside or above the genome to effect gene expression).

This raises the question: is there ancient, biologically and psychospiritually meaningful information contained within drum patterns passed down to us from our distant ancestors? Could some of these rhythms contain epigenetic information that affect both the structure (conformation) and function of biomolecules and biologically meaningful energetic/information patterns in our body? If so, this would mean these ancient patterns of sound could be considered “epigenetic inheritance systems” as relevant to DNA expression as methyl donors like folate and betaine and not unlike grandmother’s recipe (recipe literally means “medical prescription” in French) for chicken soup that still adds the perfect set of chemistries and information specific to your body to help you overcome the common cold or bring you back from fatigue.

We do have some compelling evidence from human clinical and observational studies on the power of drumming to affect positive change both physically and psychologically, seemingly indicating the answer to our question about the biological role of acoustic information in modulating micro and macro physiological processes in a meaningful way is YES.

6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Drumming

Drumming has been proven in human clinical research to do the following six things:

  1. Reduce Blood Pressure, Anxiety/Stress: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine enrolled both middle-aged experienced drummers and a younger novice group in a 40-minute djembe drumming sessions. Their blood pressure, blood lactate and stress and anxiety levels were taken before and after the sessions. Also, their heart rate was monitored at 5 second intervals throughout the sessions. As a result of the trial, all participants saw a drop in stress and anxiety. Systolic blood pressure dropped in the older population postdrumming.
  2. Increase Brain White Matter & Executive Cognitive Function: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease found that two months of drumming intervention in Huntington’s patients (considered an irreversible, lethal neurodegenerative disease) resulted in “improvements in executive function and changes in white matter microstructure, notably in the genu of the corpus callosum that connects prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres.”[ix] The study authors concluded that the pilot study provided novel preliminary evidence that drumming (or related targeted behavioral stimulation) may result in “cognitive enhancement and improvements in callosal white matter microstructure.”
  3. Reduced Pain: A 2012 study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that active performance of music (singing, dancing and drumming) triggered endorphin release (measured by post-activity increases in pain tolerance) whereas merely listening to music did not. The researchers hypothesized that this may contribute to community bonding in activities involving dance and music-making.[x]
  4. Reduce Stress (Cortisol/DHEA ratio), Increase Immunity: A 2001 study published in Alternative Therapies and Health Medicine enrolled 111 age- and sex- matched subjects (55 men and 56 women; mean age 30.4 years) and found that drumming “increased dehydroepiandrosterone-to-cortisol ratios, increased natural killer cell activity, and increased lymphokine-activated killer cell activity without alteration in plasma interleukin 2 or interferon-gamma, or in the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Beck Depression Inventory II.”[xi]
  5. Transcendent (Re-Creational) Experiences: A 2004 study published in the Journal Multiple Sclerosis revealed that drumming enables participants to go into deeper hypnotic states[xii], and another 2014 study published in PLoS found that when combined with shamanistic instruction, drumming enables participants to experience decreased heartrate and dreamlike experiences consistent with transcendental experiences.[xiii]
  6. Socio-Emotional Disorders: A powerful 2001 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that low-income children who enrolled in a 12-week group drumming intervention saw multiple domains of social-emotional behavior improve significantly, from anxiety to attention, from oppositional to post-traumatic disorders.[xiiii]
Anthony Dunford dances with others in the drum circle during the Earth Day festival at Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero on April 24, 2010. Greg Kahn/Staff

Anthony Dunford dances with others in the drum circle during the Earth Day festival at Koreshan State Historic Site in Estero on April 24, 2010. Greg Kahn/Staff (Photo credit: Greg Kahn, Naples Daily News)

Taking into account the beneficial evolutionary role that drumming likely performed in human history and prehistory, as well as the new scientific research confirming its psychosocial and physiological health benefits, we hope that it will be increasingly looked at as a positive medical, social and psychospiritual intervention. Considering the term recreation in its root etymological sense: re-creation, drumming may enable us to both tap into the root sense of our identity in the drumming-mediated experience of being joyous, connected and connecting, creative beings, as well as find a way to engage the process of becoming, transformation and re-creation that is also a hallmark feature of being alive and well in this amazing, ever-changing universe of ours.

New to drumming and want to try it?

Fortunately, drum circles have sprouted up in thousands of locations around the country spontaneously, and almost all of them are free. You will find them attended by all ages, all walks of life and all experience levels. The best way to find one is google the name of your area and “drum circle” and see what comes up. Also, there is an online directory that lists drum circles around the country: http://www.drumcircles.net/circlelist.html

You can also find a drum online through sites like Djembe Drums & Skins. For the record, I have no affiliate relationship with Shorty Palmer or his site, but only know him as a humble master craftsman and the source for all the drums I own today.

REFERENCES


[i] Shinya Fujii, Catherine Y Wan. The Role of Rhythm in Speech and Language Rehabilitation: The SEP Hypothesis. Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 ;8:777. Epub 2014 Oct 13. PMID: 25352796

[ii] Sebastian Kirschner, Michael Tomasello. Joint drumming: social context facilitates synchronization in preschool children. J Exp Child Psychol. 2009 Mar;102(3):299-314. Epub 2008 Sep 12. PMID: 18789454

[iii] Magdalena Babiszewska, Anne Marijke Schel, Claudia Wilke, Katie E Slocombe. Social, contextual, and individual factors affecting the occurrence and acoustic structure of drumming bouts in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Am J Phys Anthropol. 2015 Jan ;156(1):125-34. Epub 2014 Oct 18. PMID: 25327570

[iv] W Tecumseh Fitch. Four principles of bio-musicology. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Mar 19 ;370(1664):20140091. PMID: 25646514

[v] Ryan Remedios, Nikos K Logothetis, Christoph Kayser. Monkey drumming reveals common networks for perceiving vocal and nonvocal communication sounds. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Oct 20;106(42):18010-5. Epub 2009 Oct 1. PMID: 19805199

[vi] W Tecumseh Fitch. Four principles of bio-musicology. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Mar 19 ;370(1664):20140091. PMID: 25646514

[vii] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321132/#RSTB20140091C80

[viii] Felix A Hager, Wolfgang H Kirchner. Directional vibration sensing in the termite Macrotermes natalensis. J Exp Biol. 2014 Jul 15 ;217(Pt 14):2526-30. PMID: 25031457

[ix] Claudia Metzler-Baddeley, Jaime Cantera, Elizabeth Coulthard, Anne Rosser, Derek K Jones, Roland J Baddeley. Improved Executive Function and Callosal White Matter Microstructure after Rhythm Exercise in Huntington’s Disease. J Huntingtons Dis. 2014 ;3(3):273-83. PMID:25300331

[x] R I M Dunbar, Kostas Kaskatis, Ian MacDonald, Vinnie Barra. Performance of music elevates pain threshold and positive affect: implications for the evolutionary function of music.Evol Psychol. 2012 ;10(4):688-702. Epub 2012 Oct 22. PMID: 23089077

[xi] B B Bittman, L S Berk, D L Felten, J Westengard, O C Simonton, J Pappas, M Ninehouser.Composite effects of group drumming music therapy on modulation of neuroendocrine-immune parameters in normal subjects. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 Jan;7(1):38-47. PMID:11191041

[xii] R L Maurer, V K Kumar, L Woodside, R J Pekala. Phenomenological experience in response to monotonous drumming and hypnotizability. Mult Scler. 2004 Aug;10(4):417-24. PMID:9385724

[xiii] Bruno Gingras, Gerald Pohler, W Tecumseh Fitch. Exploring shamanic journeying: repetitive drumming with shamanic instructions induces specific subjective experiences but no larger cortisol decrease than instrumental meditation music. PLoS One. 2014 ;9(7):e102103. Epub 2014 Jul 7. PMID: 24999623

.[xiiii]Ping Ho, Jennie C I Tsao, Lian Bloch, Lonnie K Zeltzer. The impact of group drumming on social-emotional behavior in low-income children. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.2011 ;2011:250708. Epub 2011 Feb 13. PMID: 21660091

 

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