Thursday, February 11, 2010

"365 Project" - Day 42 - "Ashiko"

Feb. 11, 2010 - "Ashiko"

Music is a major part of me. It moves me. It energizes me. It calms me. It shapes and forms me.

I probably spend more on my music addiction than on anything else. According to my iTunes store purchase history, I tend to buy around two dozen albums per month... and that doesn't include any actual CDs I buy from stores or Amazon or wherever... or any CDs that I borrow from friends and import to my computer and iPod.

My iPod is a constant companion. At the moment, it has well over 900 different albums on it... and I have many I haven't even bothered to import to my computer yet. There's still plenty of space left on it's hard-drive... so the collection will keep growing and growing and growing.

And if I'm not listening to music... there's a good chance that I'm making it, in some way. Cedar Flutes... Guitars... Keyboards...

... and my favorite of all - drums.

We have a nice little collection of hand-drums going. From big Djembes... to small Tom-Tom drums... to my Bodhran...

... and my favorite of all - my Ashiko.

My Ashiko was a pre-wedding present from my wife, Holly. It's one-of-a-kind... and was custom built for me, according to my specifications: Natural-finish Birch shell, 22" high... 9" Calf-skin head, instead of goat-skin... 12 wooden beads used to tighten the ropes and tune the head. It allows me to get deep tones as if it were a much larger Djembe... and tinny, ringing highs - as if it were a much smaller, ceramic Doumbek.

Over the past 10 1/2 years my drum and I have seen a lot together. Countless drum circles in the deep of the woods... under the Full Moon. Large public drum circles and gatherings. Rituals and Ceremonies. Birthings and Initiations. Memorial Services and Funerals.

When we had a house fire in 2003, we lost over 90% of our belongings... including about a half-dozen drums... but my Ashiko was spared, even though it was resting within a foot of where the fire broke out.

My Ashiko is a sacred object to me. It doesn't matter how long it has been since the last time I've played... I can pick it up, and within moments find myself lost in a beat... in a drum-trance - which can last for hours-upon-hours.

There have been many nights when I've drummed for so long that I have absolutely no sense of time... of where, or even "who" I am. I come out of the drum-trance and only know that I "am"... and that my hands are pulsing... throbbing... and numb from their beating.

And I feel truly alive!

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This shot is a close up of one of the tuning beads on my Ashiko... pulled down to tighten the head.

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