Tuesday, 11 March 2014

My Buffalo Drum

The Drum is the Heart Beat of the Nation.

I have wanted a buffalo drum for a really long time and I finally got one. I'm so happy. I'm also quite proud of how I got my new drum , because I made it. This lense describes the process of making a drum. You will also find some pictures to help you visualize the experience. I have also added a link to a buffalo song found on youtube.

A Prayer is Given

The drum making workshop began with a prayer and a song. A prayer of thanks to the animal that gave it's life for us so we can make a drum. A prayer was also given to the tree that gave its life for us to make a drum.

The Ring

One of the main compontents to a drum is the drum ring or hoop. These rings were made for us by a local drum maker. The rings are made out of small pieces that are cut to fit together in a circle. Each piece is glued together to make a circle. Since your ring is made out of wood you're bound to have some rough spots so you will need to get some sand paper to make these spots smooth. After all you don't want to get splinters while you're drumming.

The Hide Used to Make Drum

The drum can be made out of many different kinds of hide. Each hide has it own sound. Some types of hide used are deer, elk and buffalo. My drum is made out of buffalo hide. It was bought at a local tanery. It came in one peice that we measured and cut. The size you need will vary according to the size of the drum you're making.

Soaking the Hide

Some drum makers perfer to cut the hide while it's wet while others prefer to cut it while it's dry. We used a wet hide. It's hard to believe that big hide fit into the garbage can. It looked way to big. But it takes up less space once it softens.

Laying out the Hide

After the hide is soften it's laid out on a table so it can be cut to the just right size for your drum.

Measuring the Hide

The rings are laid on top of the hide and measured while the hide is still dry. The hide is cut a little bit bigger than your ring so that the hide stretches part way up the side of the ring.

Cutting the Hide

After the hide is measured and softened its cut. Again some drum makers cut the hide wet while others cut it while it dry.

Getting the Hide Ready

There are several steps to getting the hide ready to go on the ring. The first thing you need to do is put holes in your hide. You need to determine which stringing method you're going to use and make the holes accordingly. The holes are made either with a drill with a piece of wood under the hide so as to not to drill into the table. They can also be made with a hole punch although a electric drull is much easier on your muscles. The holes can be put in the hide when its wet or dry. And if you don't make enough holes don't worry you can always make more.

Stringing the Hide Step One

The first step of stringing the hide is to thread a piece of yarn through one hole on each of the four sides of the hide.

Stringing the Hide Step Two

After you have the yarn in a hole on all four sides of the drum you lay your ring on the hide. You then make a hoop out of the cord your going to thread your drum with. You then tie the yarn on to the cord hoop, making sure the hoop stays in the center of your ring.

Stringing the Hide Step Three and Beyond

The third step to stringing the hide begins with getting a piece of cord long enough to string your whole drum. There's nothing worse than threading your whole drum to find out your cord is only inches to short and having to take the whole cord out and start all over again. This happened to one lady in my drum making workshop, and she wasn't very happy. I got my drum strung a quarter of the way and realized I had missed a whole so I had to start all over. Oh well one thing drum making teaches you is patience. Before you start threading your drum decide whether or not your are going to put your cord under or over your center cord as you will want to do the same all the way around your drum. Don't thread your cord to tight to start you'll take out the slack later. You also want to be careful that your center cord stays in the middle of your ring and your ring stays in the center of your hide or you will get a lopsided drum. Now that you've threaded your drum you can start taking the slack out of the cord. Pull the cord just enough to take the slack out. When this is all done start tighting the cord. You tighten the cord a little at a time pulling the cord the same way you did when you took the slack out. It might take a couple of rounds to get the tightness that you want. Be careful not to tighten the cord to much becasue it will tighten more when the hide dries. After you've tightened your drum you need to hang your drum up to dry. Next play your drum and if you like decorate it. Have fun.

The Teaching of the Drum

There is a teaching to go with most everything in the Native Culture here are some of the teachings of the drum that I know. Since the beginning of time the drum has been used to gather the people together. There is only positive energy attached to the drum, no negativity allowed. You should make your drum with good feeling and good thoughts. The energy you make your drum with goes into your drum so you never want to make it with bad feeling. The sound of the drum mimics Mother Earth's heartbeat. It brings people together. It is such a great experience to drum and sing with a bunch of like minded people, Never touch somebody's drum without permission. Everyone has energy whether good or bad. So becareful who you let touch your drum. You don't want somebody with bad energy to touch your drum. They leave it behind. You would also never step over a drum. I'm not sure why about this teaching, it has something to do with the energy. You shouldn't play your drum under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you do you need to wrap your drum up and put it away for four days.

Buffalo Song Click this link and you can listen to the Buffalo Song on youtube.

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