Monday, October 29, 2007
Sidy wouldn't show me my new drum when I first got to class.
"Is this it?" I asked, pointing to one of the newly headed ones.
"How about this one?"
"I'll tell you after class," he said. "It's a surprise."
So I picked one to play for the class. It was lenge wood, with a spotted goatskin head. The backbone stripe curved around and you can feel that the skin is thicker there. It was tuned WAY tighter than my other drum. I realized that the bass sound was much less pronounced... but oh the tone and slap were sweet. Sharp and metallic, almost. Just like an African drum is supposed to sound.
It smelled fantastic. You can smell the goat and the wood and I just wanted to lay my face on the head and inhale. I grew up on a farm, so the smell of a goat has nothing but wonderful associations for me. Halfway through class I surreptitiously smelled my palms and they, too, smelled like the drum.
I played the borrowed drum through the class and noticed that the head is much bigger than my old drum, which means my legs have to hold it at a different angle. But I adjusted my position and loosened up my hands.
What a sound! Even in the hands of a novice like me, the drum spoke beautifully. It had an expressive voice. It was such a pleasure to play.
And of course, it was my drum.
"I tuned it today," Sidy said. "Do you want it tighter?"
No. It's perfect. It is the perfect drum. It is my drum.
On the way to my car I stopped at Grace Church and sat on the steps and played for a little while, in downtown Providence, on a Monday night, in the cold clear night air, with the sound of this beautiful, goaty smelling drum bouncing off the tall buildings and making a joyful noise unto the Lord.