Sunday, October 19, 2008

Drums - a disjointed and rambling post

My last year of university I lived in caravan park with my mate Greg. He lived in the trailer bit (which had the wee kitchen, bathroom and ‘lounge’) and I had the caravan. It was rusty, the windows didn’t close and was sodding freezing in the winter. One winter I was in my bed, wearing as many items of clothing I could, with my duvet, blankets, jackets and the whole contents of my wardrobe piled on top of me. Brrr. And I woke up in the middle of the night, curled up under all this kit and thought I was a pie! I wasn’t on drugs either, I swear!

One lazy Sunday afternoon a posse of us, mostly made up of crazy Zimbabweans, had one of those fabulous impromptu two-day boozing sessions. One mate found a tyre somewhere and we were all rolling it about the place, being silly old students. Greg and I lived (if you can call it that, squatted, more like), on top of the slope. One of our chums had the tyre, lost control of it and it bumped into our neighbour’s caravan. The neighbour was a massive, bearded, long socked, slightly red fellow (you know the type) - and he came out brandishing a pistol! Fuuuck!!!

Anyway, this post is about drums (would you believe it?) and not yet another trip down memory lane. I’m getting lots of those from fellow blogger and university chum fush and chips if you’d like any more Rhodes tales, he writes amazingly. Anyway, back to drums...The caravan park was near Grey’s Dam and the hippies, all clad in tie-dye spirals and smokey haloes, used to go down to the dam and play their drums all night long. A tenuous drum link, but there you go.

Obviously, having grown up in very rural Africa and working with drama troupes here I’ve been exposed to my fair share of drums. Whenever we have a show (in village or in town) we play the drums for about two hours to call the audience in. It’s bloody hard work actually, but amazing. Oh this makes me sound like I know how to play drums. I so don’t I’ve tried but…nope. I just help with the crowd entertainment, do a bit of dancing so that people can laugh at me and be happy. I’m okay with this solution!

We left our drums out one night (stupidly) and the hyenas came and ate the skin off. Duh!

My sister and I worked on a book on Traditional Zambian Ceremonies last year and travelled around the country. Was amazing to see all the different kinds of drums in different parts of the country.

And it seems that drums in Tanzania are different too. So since I’m now working with a new drama group here we’re on a drum mission. We tried to buy some but they were massively expensive and poor quality so two of the actors said, “oh we know how to make drums” so that’s what I spent my Saturday morning doing. Not making drums, but holding my nose and taking pictures of other people making drums! Coz boy do those skins SMELL!
(I can't get those pics up right now, maybe later, kay?)


tam said...

ok i see the connection - drums - skins smell. Caravan - Greg -smell. I get it.

spacedlaw said...

Clear connection indeed.
Looking forward to the pictures (being happy for once that photos do not smell).

Janelle said...

hope those drums work man!
had your grey matter tottering after me this evening...all the way into the office!!!
ag mo, you explain in case anyone says anything...
word verification is oggla.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

i'd vote for more stories of your life at uni. Did you know I once did a disasterous year at Rhodes? No, of course you didn't.

Mud in the City said...

Drums are a very evocative sound. I remember, ages ago, sitting by a camp fire in Zim popping popcorn over the flames, watching a lunar eclipse over the water as the sound of drumming drifed through the night air. Magical.

Val said...

chums rhymes with drums too :-)
great images of the personal pie, and dancing to drums... I love drums too. wanted to buy one, found a place but the skin still had lots of baboon hair on it.. kind of put me off a bit.

Lori ann said...

hyena's ate the skins off??
one time when i was in indonesia i was given the gift of a drum, the top was covered in snakeskin, it was a beautiful little thing, i coulden't take it out of the country though so i took a photo of it to bring home with me instead.
did you make the book miranda? is it published? i would love to see it.
xx lori

Miranda said...

Lori - wow, that snakeskin drum sounds amazing! Yes the book is published, best to write an e-mail to my sister Tam on and ask her details on how to get one (yes Tam, is that the best option?)

Val - Hmmm, I think I prefer the snakeskiin drm of Loris to the baboon skin one. That does put one off somewhat, no matter how bad my grudge against baboons is!

Mud - wow, that really must have been magical - nothing like it.

Ernest, you did actually tell me that you did a year at Rhodes. That bad, huh? I'll try dredge up some more tales...

Janelle - they do! They sound GREAT, we tried them out today. And Grey Matter is my kitten ya'll in case you were wondering about my tottering brain follwing janelle about. Sounds about right though....

Spacedlaw - ah yes, the pictures, must get cracking on that! I took some pics of the flies too so you could at least get an IDEA of the smell!!

Tam - hahahahaaha

Jeannie said...

Great post and great pictures - I used to hear bagpipes at Rhodes, but don't remember ever hearing drums. Pity. When we studied altered states of conciousness (yes, really, exams and all!) drumming was a major player in achieving one, with or without additional help :-)

Ernest, what happened during your year at Rhodes? My Mom was there in the mid-60's and has some fairly hair- raising tales to tell.

My word verification is glzxb - pretty much the sound I imagine a hyena trying to digest a drum skin would make...

Glenda, saved by grace said...

Black box brought me here from
T E X A S.
You have a very interesting blog.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Is it those drums that can be heard for miles?

CJ xx

Miranda said...

Jeannie - welcome. Bagpipes, really? Ha, that's pretty surreal. And ys, I imagine glzxb is axactly the sound a hyena makes when swallowing a drum skin! heh heh

Glenda, welcome to you too.

Crystal - yes, that CAN be heard for miles. In fact you've just reinded me about the Lunda talking drums in Zambia. Where there is a whole communication thing happening through the drum beats. Ah, I'll have to get my sister to write about it (tam?)

Jeannie said...

Oh, please do! It sounds fascinating. I love the glimpses I get from people's blogs - the best kind of armchair travel and distance learning.

I concluded years ago that the bagpipes were played by a ghost, and missed him when I left Res. However, about two months ago, Tim told me, via the Rhodes group, that St Andrews boys used to practice their bagpipes up the hill. I sort of miss my phantom piper!