The following essay is from a blog series, 30 Days of Joy, now part of a book in progress, Juicy Joyful: How To Squeeze More Joy From Your Already Messy Life. I am using it as today’s blog post to honor the memory and living legacy of Layne Redmond, master frame drummer and pioneer in bringing the Middle Eastern style tambourine technique to the West, and to me and to my teachers here in Maine, in particular. Without Layne’s work, we would not have each other, the drums, the delicious frame drum community, or the rhythms and their magic in our lives. Layne died two years ago, leaving us to carry on the teachings and share the wealth we have inherited. Her book, When the Drummers Were Women, is a classic and must-read in the women’s spirituality movement and is still available. Namaste, Layne! We love you and miss you.
My moment of clarity with drumming came years ago, listening to a friend in my living room playing an African rhythm on the djembe and singing. Something hit me about her making music with her body, a hollowed out tree, and a reverberant, taut animal skin. The rhythms were not directly translatable to my Western musical paradigm, but obviously had an internal order and sense that I could not quite penetrate by any means I possessed. I took in the whole experience of person, voice, hands and drum and said to myself, “I want to learn how to do that!”