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Native American Drums - Culture, Care & Use
The best kept secret for Native drums, anyone interested in affordable authentic Native American drums should consider the superior sound and value of Tarahumara ceremonial drums. Hand made in primitive tradition, with hand bent pine hoops and genuine hand laced rawhide, they are beautiful and perfect for drumming circles, school music classes and as canvases for Native American art projects.
The world renouned Tarahumara Indians of the Sierra Madre mountain range inhabit a nearly inaccessible region of the copper canyon area bearing their name, Sierra Tarahumara. Today the Tarahumara live in caves and rock out-cropping as well as in small wood and stone cabins in remote areas. Said to be North America’s most primitive people, they live a simple life without modern technology. The Tarahumara use the drums as a call to gather the people. On a clear night during their festivals, you can hear the sound of these Native American drums drifting throughout the mountain villages for miles.
Tarahumara drums play an important part in the preservation of their culture. As they have done for generations before them the modern Tarahumara make their drums in the old way. Fashioned by hand, a piece of native yellow pine is carefully sought after with just the right characteristics. Once the proper piece is selected, it is shaved to a thickness which allows it to be bent into the shape of the drum hoop. Securing the two ends together with rawhide or now days, heavy gauge wire, the hoop is ready. For the heads, heavy goat skin rawhide is selected and soaked until soft and workable. Once the hide has been scraped clean it is stretched over the drum ring and laced with matching rawhide. Then the still soft and wet drum is allowed to slowly air dry causing the rawhide to tighten around the hoop frame. Goat skin rawhide is thin and durable providing a very strong tone for drumming. Anyone desiring a Native made, natural hide drum would enjoy the rich tone and culture of the Tarahumara drums.
If you are fortunate enough to own one of the traditional Native American drums of the Tarahumara, you know what a thunderous sound they can produce. If you are not familiar with Tarahumara drums or if you have never used a natural hide drum, it is important to understand how they respond to their environment.
Natural rawhide drums loosen in times of humidity and tighten when heated. The native people heat the drums in front of a fire before using, to ensure maximum sound quality. The tighter the hide, the stronger the sound will be. In a modern setting, a hair dryer is the quickest and easiest way to dry a drum for use. Simply start in the center and work toward the edges of the drum. It only takes two minutes, restores the hide to the proper tension and can be repeated as often as necessary to be enjoyed for many years.