Drumming At The Edge Of Magic

I don't know about you but I find the driveby sonic rumble of car subwoofers extremely annoying, yet there are plenty of people who spend fortunes decking out their cars and Suburbans just to share their bottom thumping joy with you. What happens to these bassheads as they get older? I have visions of the ashrams of tomorrow full of folks sitting in serene, untroubled contemplation, mostly because they can't hear a damned thing anymore!

Anyway, warfare of this kind has been going on for as long as humans have existed. Mickey Hart's (drummer for the Grateful Dead) book, Drumming At The Edge of Magic, is a serious attempt to trace the role of percussion in world mythology. I particularly enjoyed the following reference to the Mahabharata:

Drums provided the music of war, and the favored war drum was the kettledrum, whose terrible low booming could be heard for miles ... There are kettledrums froma ancient India, from the time of the ancient holy text, the Mahabharata, that measure five feet in diameter and weigh approximately four hundred and fifty pounds. You needed an elephant to lug them around. "There arose a tumultuous uproar caused by the blare of the trumpet and the thundering of drums, the blowing of conch shells," says the Mahabharata. "The very sky was rent by the beating of drums."

I'll keep that in mind the next time a Suburban booming the latest narcorrido ditty goes by. That's the modern day equivalent, I suppose.

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- May 23, 2006 11:26 PM // Books , Music