I just finished reading Mickey Hart's Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion. Mickey's the drummer for the Grateful Dead and has been a percussionist for mover 25 years.
The book nearly blew me away. It weaves Mickey's personal journey as a drummer (his father Lenny was also a drummer) and the history and tradition of drum. Shamans and possession trance rituals spread from the beginning of time from Asia and Africa. These traditions endured, despite modernization and invasions from self-righteous invaders. These rhythms evolved into other forms, such as jazz, heavy metal, and blues. Mickey attempts to understand this way of life, a way of consciousness that is all but extinct in North America.
I've been and still am a percussionist. When I listen to music, I'll listen for the drums and the bass, the snare and the bodhran, the kettle and the bass guitar. They hold the other instruments together, but have a melody all their own.
Eleven years ago, I enjoyed listening to a drum jam at the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA. It was just an experience- it's hard to explain just what I felt. A sense of clearing of my mind, an uplifting of my spirit. That's the closest I can get to describing it. I wished I'd stayed longer, but my husband was impatient to go.
Since then, my fascination with rhythm and how to build it has been there, but understated. I enjoyed music classes, but I felt like a thief indulging in a secret vice. But it survived, no matter all the criticism. It was a relief to read a book that addressed what the magic of drumming was, to those who open their minds and hearts to it.
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