Sunday, October 09, 2005

Voice From The Present

Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, has studied the connection between rock music and African paganism extensively. He says that rock and roll is "the latest extension of the African backbeat", Mickey Hart, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, p. 64). He also says that the "mother rhythms from West Africa mutated into rock and roll" (p. 91). He traces a direct connection between rock & roll and the rhythms of witch doctors and voodoo practitioners. “When the slave ships began plying the waters between the New World and West Africa, everyone thought they carried just strong, expendable bodies. But they were also carrying the Counter player culture--maybe even the mother goddess culture—preserved in the form of drum rhythms that could call down the Orisha from their time to ours.

In the Caribbean and South America, slaves were allowed to keep their drums and thus preserved their vital connection with the Orisha, though sudden mingling of so many different tribes produced new variations like candomble, santeria, and vodun, AND OUT OF THIS SEVERING CAME JAZZ, THE BLUES, THE BACKBEAT, RHYTHM AND BLUES, AND ROCK AND ROLL--SOME OF THE MOST POWERFUL RHYTHMS ON THE PLANET. It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I awoke to the fact that my tradition--rock and roll--did have a spirit side, that there was a branch of the family that had maintained the ancient connection between the drum and the gods.” (Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, pp. 209,210,212; emphasis added).

“…[you ] can’t find a Shaman without finding a drum…” (Mickey Hart, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, p. 46)

“For the shaman, the drum is not so much a musical instrument as a vehicle for transportation…[to the spirit world]”(Mickey Hart, Ibid., p.171)

The shaman’s drum is essential in the voodoo based religions as it is the means of bringing about the trance state and “driving the god into the body of the devotee.”(Mickey Hart, Drumming at the Edge of Magic, p. 46)

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