The drum in Traditional African Society has so many roles. It is important for us to
understand the impact that the drums have and the contribution that it gives to
the community. The drums are the heart and soul of Africa! It is the heart and
soul of any community that consists of people that are descendants of Africans.
When the drums are played, it is actually a rhythm that is encoded with a deeper
message than any of us can realize. We don’t know why the songs that are played
for each Orisha sounds the way that it does because over time that song has
become the norm and we just know it for what it is. Honestly, to say the least,
each note that is played on the drum for whatever particular Orisha is part of a
bigger picture. It is a note or a thread in a longer more detailed code or should I
say message to the Orishas. It helps summon them to our world and interact with
us to bring us the messages that we so desperately need.
The drum is so important in our tradition. Many times when drummers make
ocha one of the things that almost never gets taken away from them is the ability
to drum, even if it is during ceremony. It is the tool that is a primary
communicator with the Orishas. This is in part the reason that we have oro secco,
when the drums are just played for the Orishas, there is absolutely no singing. The
rhythmic patterns that are attached to different Orishas are so intense that just
playing those patterns is enough to evoke the energy of that Orisha.
The rhythmic pattern is played to enjoin the energy of the Orisha with the energy
of the people that are around. The energy actually surrounds the person to the
point where they feel good. In fact, the effect from being at a bembe is
tremendous because it helps some people feel a change within themselves when
In actuality, some people need a drum to be in their house because the energy of
the drum alone can bring a positive energy to their house even if it’s not being
played. Conversely speaking, some people can’t even have a damaged drum in
their house because it will have a negative effect on the person whose house that
it belongs to.
All in all, it is important that we recognize and respect the drum because of the
impact that it has on our society and the overall world that we live in.
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