The other day I was searching through our archives and came across an amazing story about the power of the drum and the unmistakable beauty of its voice.
This essay was written by our Native Gallery Director, Lynn Thomas and is entitled “Heartbeats”…
“As I write this, snow is gently falling outside and I can’t help but think about how quiet it is out in the Black Hills right now. Imagine, one of those perfect days where you can hear even the smallest rustle in the trees and you realize that it is so quiet that you can even hear your own heart beating.
Before long, you begin to notice a rhythm, and as you listen, the beat grows louder and seems to flow outward into your surroundings. It is at that point you ask yourself: Is the rhythm drawn from what’s around me or am I adding my beat to a dance already in progress?
This ‘heartbeat’ is central to many tribal cultures all over the world and is often manifested into one of human kind’s earliest instruments of communication – the drum.
We understand the message of the drum because we heard it even before we were born. As we came to life in our mother’s womb, we heard a soft repeating sound that lulled us to sleep or alerted us to danger. Her heartbeat became our guide and the forever binding connection between mother and child was established. To this day, it is that first memory of our mother’s heartbeat that draws us to the drum.
From large pedestal drums, to smaller hand drums, it is said the drum’s ability to unite people in one emotion is what makes it such an integral part of Native American culture. It is considered sacred because of its ‘voice’ and the spiritual nature of its power.
Once you hear the drum, you will never be the same.
So, the next time you are standing in that perfect moment of unbroken silence, remember that there really is no silence. There will always be a ‘heartbeat’, and maybe, if you are listening, you will start to hear the song too.”