A brief history of drums and drum circles
Drums are among the earth's oldest musical instruments. Historically, most drums were made with some sort of animal skin stretched over a hollowed out wooden shell. Today, drums are also made of synthetic materials.
While the oldest known drum dates to 5500 B.C in China (wikipedia) it is widely understood that the greatest explosion of drum knowledge and drum rhythms came from Africa and this knowledge was promulgated by the African diaspora. Rhythms from the Middle East, Europe, India and Asia were later spread widely through the silk road trading routes.
Drumming seems to have had a place in every ancient culture.
There are countless examples of drums playing a part in sacred ritual. Shamans in many cultures used the drum as the "canoe" to transport the healer to an altered state of consciousness in preparation for healing. During the Sufi Zikr, groups of drummers play a simple rhythm over and over to accompany the whirling dervishes, helping them achieve a trance-state. In Hinduism, the damaru drum is associated with the god Shiva and the creation of spiritual power.
Drums had a more practical purpose helping villages communicate with each other in ancient Africa. Drums kept a beat for soldiers to march to in colonial times.
In Africa, drumming was a part of everyday life. Groups of drummers played (while dancers danced) at harvest rituals, solstice gatherings, fertility rituals, marriage ceremonies, and all manner of celebration.
So how did we get to drum circles? According to wikipedia "A drum circle is any group of people playing (usually) hand-drums and percussion in a circle. They are distinct from a drumming group or troupe in that the drum circle is an end in itself rather than preparation for a performance." Drum circles are playing a part in recreation, wellness, meditation, employee team-building and alternative therapy for a number of health conditions. With the increasing popularity of drum circles, group drumming is becoming more and more accessible around the globe to anyone regardless of experience level.
The applications for drumming are too many to fully name here. However you came to find this page, I hope you discover the joy and the power of drumming and drum circles! Here are some tips on how to have a drum circle.