Thursday, September 18, 2008
This is a Remo Buffalo Drum. It's made of synthetic materials, and I painted the original designs with fabric paint purchased from a local hobby shop.
While frame drums are common in many cultures across the globe, the Buffalo Drum is typically used for ceremony and shamanic journeying by Native Americans.
Unlike a Celtic Bodhran or a Middle Eastern Frame Drum, the Buffalo Drum typically has some sort of support on the reverse side of the drum for it to be played (held) in one hand, while striking it with a padded drum beater in the other. You can play a buffalo drum with your hands, but they are usually played with a beater.
I've used this drum at drum circles, and to be quite honest, it may just be a matter of personal preference, but it's got a pretty different tone that I'm not sure blends well with traditional drum circle instrumentation. It may have to do with the way the drum is constructed, because these Remo Buffalo Drums don't really allow for a lot of tonal variation- and in some ways, it's hard to make them sound musical. Sometimes I'll stand it upright on my lap, and strike it with one hand and hit the side of it with a cowbell beater so it's a mixture of thumps and knocks.
The lack of tonal variation makes them ideal for shamanic journeying. When inducing a journey by drumbeat, the drum is typically played at a very steady 80-120 beats per minute which alters the brain's alpha patterns and induces a dream like state for the journeys may take place.
Click here to learn more about Shamanic Drumming
Or take a look at Steven Ash's book on Sacred Drumming