jojo‘s Mixtape- Drum Along!
This week’s mix contains African tracks, selected for their captivating groove and rhythm elements. I drum along to these tracks to practice djembe, sing along, and dance around. The key ingredient is the pulsing repetition that draws us to move or express, the patterns we hear that repeat and invite us to contribute our voices.
Communal drumming has always fascinated me, surely because I didn’t grow up in a place where it was a custom. I began drumming in school as a child, but I can remember specifically when I first experienced the magic of a drum circle. While in high school, I had a music teacher who brought in his djembe and began adding this element to our regular snare drum/concert percussion regimen. He and I planned to jam a bit during a lunch period, so we got a large music room, shut the door, and turned off the lights. We began tapping out rhythms and ideas, repeating each other, calling and responding, cueing different dynamics, and GOT LOST IN IT. Somewhere in this session, everything aligned and became an action being driven by a different part of the mind, if you will.
While drumming and listening, many parts of the brain work simultaneously and stimulate feelings and associations that become the result of this orchestra of brainwork. “Grooving” describes this reaction by our minds, compelling us to drop certain activities in areas of the brain for a welcome use of the parts that can “harmonize”. Once there is this rhythmic harmony of brain activity, there is a dissociation from inhibitions and anxiety. This teacher and I were drumming and deeply in sync, but the bell rang after what felt like a few minutes, though it had been an entire 40 minute journey through a state of mind that is limited by the words we have to attempt to describe it.
This was one of the most important sessions I have had of any kind, and led me to study these elements further. When musicians find this element while playing, it breathes fresh motivation into our efforts because it reminds us of the key ingredient that compelled our efforts initially. This brainwork is familiar to all artists, performers, entertainers, thinkers, writers, etc., and exploring this harmony of thoughts, expressions, and emotions provides us with a common devotion and intention, making for a very catalytic mix of energy!
A drum circle is a concentrated study on this exact brain energy. Positive vibes, friendly exchanges, community expression, and the effort of a whole group to attain this rhythmic harmony makes it a recipe for magic.
Hope to see you all there! And if this Sunday doesn’t work for you, fear not! We’ll be out there every Sunday at 1pm, weather permitting.
Maria Hernandez Park, Brooklyn, NY
Babatunde Olatunji- What’s Your Number, Mama?
Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats- Ezuku Buzo
Tinariwen- Tenere Taqqim Tossam
Tom Diakite- Fala
Babatunde Olatunji- Love Drum Talk
Fela Kuti- Gentleman
Tinariwen- Amassakoul ‘N’ Tenere
Babatunde Olatunji- Sare Tete Wa