It has been a strange autumn for me, and one that makes me feel as though I have lost my way rather too much. What with having been very busy at work, having had several nasty cold bugs, having the feeling that I've been lacking any useful creative stimulation and also the feeling of being on a bit of an emotional low, I have felt quite miserable! I am sure the lack of daylight, fresh air and decent exercise hasn't helped. I am determined to pull out of it and I am looking forward to a break over Christmas in just over a week. As I am sure I keep on saying, trying to be a spiritual and balanced person is actually hard work. If I don't apply mental energy to it then I just drift off into nothingness!
Last weekend I, and around 20 other people, attended a Drum making day with the Dartmoor musicians Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw in Hitchin. I had always wanted to do something like this and it was a special treat to myself.
We started off with a 16" diameter circular frame of laminated wood which we sanded down and added some wood stain and a small painted icon/image of our choice on the inside edge. A smaller metal ring was wound with black cloth and then attached to the inside of the frame. The skins we were using were from Red Deer and had been soaked in water prior to our using them. The circular piece of skin was hole punched round the edge and then the wooden ring laid on top. The skin was then pulled round over the frame and strung to the metal ring with a long piece of thin skin. This was progressively tightened until the right tension for the drum reached. A handle was finally added to the metal ring at the back of the drum. In the photo you can see that I have the inner ring a little off centre, but it doesn't matter. I'll know how to get it right if I ever make another. A beater was made with a hazel stick, on the end of which was tied a piece of chamois leather stuffed with wool.
I have no real idea how and when I shall use it, but it was a great thing to make. It took almost all day to make and I really enjoyed the experience. Nigel and Carolyn gave a concert in the evening which made a great end to the day.
The drum has now been sitting at home for a week and has dried out well. I am amazed at the quality and beauty of the sound that I can get out of it. Even just playing it with a gentle tapping with the drum held close to the ear reveals different tones and harmonics over different parts of the drum.