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Drumming - the heartbeat of God


Djembe drumming in Ireland
(an article by Thomas Wiegandt)

is one of the oldest form of music on our planet and is a sophisticated community art.

Rhythm comes natural
and people of all age groups and backgrounds just love playing drums and learn it very quickly.

Drumming is both, a lot of fun as well as educational, and it has successfully been used in schools, team building, festivals, community and youth projects as well as in therapeutic groups.

Everybody can do it, it is a lot of fun and is also energising as well as relaxing!

Drums and Percussions

Drums and percussions are the musical instruments used to play rhythmic patterns and structures. Drums are instruments in which an animal skin is stretched tightly across a frame or container of wood or metal to produce a percussive and resonating sound when struck either with hands or sticks. Percussion instruments are bells, gongs, shakers, or any resonant objects available. Drums and percussions are played usually in an ensemble and there is a great variety of instruments from many different cultures. The most popular drum today is the goblet shaped Djembe drum from West-Africa due to its fantastic sound range.


Humans are poly-rhythmic beings living in a poly-rhythmic world. Our personal rhythms created by our heartbeat, our breathing, our brawniness and the trembling of cells as well as the rhythms of sleeping and waking, eating and digesting, working and resting, are inseparably connected to the rhythm cycles of our planet like the returning of day and night, the waxing and waning of the moon, the rising and falling of tides, the turning of the seasons and the moving of the sun and the stars. The marriage of dancing and drumming is in its essence a process of embodying the rhythms of life, nature and the universe through movement and sound.
By celebrating life’s and nature’s cycles man re-creates the interdependence and interconnection of all existence. Today’s alienation from nature, caused by industrialisation, economic growth and technology, and the resulting frantic western life style makes many of us now searching for a rhythm that feels natural and relates harmoniously to our personal pulses. The awakening rhythm-consciousness can be seen as a healing response to the loss of even rhythms in our disruptive and fast changing culture.

Drumming - a musical skill and more

Everybody from around 6 years of age onwards can learn to drum and it is easy to get started, because everybody got rhythm! Drumming is a lot of fun and very empowering. After only 2 or 3 hours people are drumming already with confidence and are sounding great. With a bit of practice everyone can progress fast and will soon be able to join musicians playing various types of music. Drumming allows the players to express themselves in a creative way and is also a physical non-hurtful way of releasing tension and aggression.

Community Music

All over the world drumming is or has been an essential accompaniment to ritual and ceremonial dances marking important transitions in the lives of individuals and communities. The occasions can be to celebrate the cycles of nature like planting and harvesting, or birth, initiation, marriage and death of a member of the community.
Communal drumming allows the individual to connect with each other and resonate physically, emotionally and spiritually through rhythm.
In the western world drumming in groups is meanwhile used a lot in schools, community and youth projects as well as in therapeutic groups. It is a musical team building tool to facilitate interaction and relating in a group. It also encourages participation and social integration in a playful way which is an important aspect in education.

Drumming in Ireland

Classical Music and the various local folk music traditions of Europe and North America, which includes Irish traditional music, are mainly centred around tunes and melodies, not so much around rhythm. Since the ‘70’s the western world got more and more interested in rhythmic and percussive music, since the ‘80s especially in African Drumming. Today there is a good interest in drumming performances and workshops in the communities, in schools and other institutions and organisations like the Health Board, YMCA, Scouts, Foroige, etc. and a festival would not be complete without some drumming. The Drumming Centre West Cork for Drumming, Art and Healing, a workshop centre in Ballydehob, West-Cork, is mainly dedicated to drumming and offers a broad program of workshops and sessions as well as being the only professional shop and mail-order in Ireland for quality drums and percussions from around the world.

Drum spirit - spirit drum

In tribal societies all over the world the shaman’s drum is a tool for transportation between the worlds of ordinary and non-ordinary or spiritual reality. The loud and constant sound of the drum enables the shaman’s consciousness to enter a state of trance and to travel out of his body into the timeless realm of the spirit world. It is the task of the shaman on these ethereal journeys to find visions and answers that help them to restore or retain balance for their people. The shaman might undertake a journey to find better grazing land for the animals, or enter the spirit world to retrieve the soul of a sick person or to restore the harmony and well being of the tribe.

Healing sounds and vibrations

The drum has been used for healing purposes world-wide for thousands of years in tribal societies with their shamanic traditions to communicate with the spirit world as well as a tool for social integration and to restore harmony. According to West-African wisdom teachings, emotional disturbances manifest as an irregular rhythm and are bad vibrations that block the vital physical processes. As regular even rhythms are regarded as a sign of health, these rhythms can heal a patient in an immediate and powerful way, removing blockages and releasing tension. Drumming and dancing thus is also a preventive remedy as it helps to become more conscious and balanced.
The healing sounds of drums as well as Tibetan singing bowls are meanwhile also used in the west to treat a lot of conditions with good results where previously other methods might not have been very successful. Drumming works with the life force itself in a profound way on all levels, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

About Thomas Wiegandt

Thomas Wiegandt works as a musician and sound-healer in Ballydehob, West-Cork. He has been playing and performing music since 1973. In 1981 he started to use music and sound for healing purposes. His teachers have been among others, Hungarian Shaman Joska Soos, Djembe master drummer Famoudou Konate from Guinea (West Africa), and Gamelan orchestra teacher Anak Agong Raka from Ubud (Bali). Since 1988 he has been giving music workshops in African drumming and music improvisation as well as sound healing and shamanic journey workshops and sessions in various venues like schools, art centres, festivals, etc. In 1996 he founded the Drumming Centre West Cork for Drumming, Art and Healing.

Copyright 2003 Thomas Wiegandt. All rights reserved.
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