Stephen Gershom NSoJ Bureau
Loud banging on more than a hundred Djembes (A kind of tribal percussion instrument with ancient African origins) and loud chanting, amidst hooting and cheering, sounds almost like a celebration in a tribal area with aborigines dancing to the beats, but this is not a scene from ancient Africa. This is just what happens at MG Road once a month.
Layne Redmond, a well-known composer, author, filmmaker, educator and drummer once famously said, “Sound is power and the first sound we hear is the pulse of our mothers blood in the womb. No sound has a more powerful effect on our consciousness. Drumming is the musical expression of this primal power and rhythm is a means of organizing sound into specific energy formulas to harmonize the mind and body. Chanting, rhythmic breathing, and drumming form an ancient technology for directly synchronizing the mind/body complex, creating conditions for psychological and physical healing”.
It sure feels like this quote comes to life on the third Sunday of every month, as more than a hundred people, from different walks of life, races, backgrounds, religions, all come together to create a rhythm, a fusion of beats ranging from Tribal to Arabic, from Tapanguchi to Bollywood style dance beats. Well, this is the Community Drumjam organized by Drumjam.
Drumjam is an organization started almost ten years ago by Roberto Narain and Vasundhara Rao, with an aim of organizing Djembe based team-building workshops for everyone, which they started off within the corporate sector.
Vasundhara Das, well-known actress, singer, composer, speaker and partner for Drumjam said, “Drumming has been a method of communication since ancient times. Humans first discovered their voices to be helpful in communication and then immediately discovered their ability to play rhythms and beats which enhanced their ability to communicate and socialize too, as their celebrations often had drum circles and dancing. Through Drumjam, our intention is to extend that ancient culture and bring it into today’s world.”
The Community Drumjam of November 2016, was their 44th such event, and featured a little more than 200 people creating rhythms on Djembes and Tambourines with Vasundhara Rao and Roberto Narain directing the crowd. Vasundhara Rao went on to say, “The Community Drumjam has been very successful in breaking the barriers of language and religion as people from all backgrounds can be found grooving to the beats at the event.”
It is noteworthy that although there are many regulars at the Community Drumjam, most of them are newcomers and almost always have no prior experience in drumming or music whatsoever. Well, Drumjam has them covered too, as an hour long Djembe workshop is organized just before the Community Drumjam, teaching the participants most basic of rhythms with the musical counts so that the basic human instinct of rhythms and beats become active even in those without any musical experience, and all this is free of any expenses.
David Mark, a participant in the workshop as well as the Community Drumjam said, “Walking by the MG road boulevard, I was attracted to the sound of the Djembes, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was free for everyone to come and take part in. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and definitely will be back for more next month”
When asked about the idea behind Community Drumjam, Roberto Narain, the founder of Drumjam said, “This is what we do. We do this for corporates and for companies as team building workshops, but the Community Drumjam is our give back to Bengaluru, because we wanted to do something for the people of this city.” Talking about the future of Community Drumjam, he said, “Yes we want to take this to the rural places, but there are costs involved and once we work out the logistics, we would love to do it. It definitely looks like we would outgrow this place, but we wouldn’t leave this place. It’s magical.”
The Djembe workshop is organized from 3-4 pm and the Community Drumjam happens right after, from 4-6 pm on the third Sunday of every month, at the Rangoli Metro Art Centre, near the MG Road metro station.