What is the sound of twelve djemby drums in a room with no people?
The answer might be found in the following little story; a story that is part of a larger story:
“…… There was once a physicist who also played the violin. One morning, he took his fiddle to the lab, wrapped it green with felt, clamped it gently in a vise, and trained the electron microscope close on the spruce belly, just beside the f-hole, where a steel peg was set humming at a high frequency. Through the microscope, once he got it honed in right, he saw the molecular surface of the wood begin to pucker and ripple outward like rings on a pond, the ripples rising gradually into waves, and the peg a blur at the heart of play.
When he drew the peg away, the ripples did not stop. In twenty-four hours, the ripples had not stopped. He saw, still, a concentric tremor on the molecular quilt of the wood. The violin, in the hard embrace of the vise, had a thing to say, a song. But then, in another twelve hours, the ripple had flattened and the wood lay inert.”
Kim Stafford, “The Peg at the Heart of Play” (from Entering the Grove).
This past weekend, from Friday evening till late Sunday afternoon, all of Windgrove’s facilities, its walls, floors and ceilings, were vibrating with the hum of twenty eight hands beating on half as many drums. What a hoot.
What a great gathering of food, drink, people and music. Seven drumming sessions with Stan Witik of between two and three hours duration might of made for sore hands, but my heart is still beating strong four days after the event.
And not only my heart. I don’t have an electron microscope, but I’m certain that tonight, even though the drums have gone away, as the full moon slipped its light into the darkened living room where I sat quietly, a tiny, ever so tiny pulse could faintly be heard. It was whispering a mixture of African and South American rhythms.