Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thanks, Goat.





Drums - another one in a long list of captivating things about Ghana. Years back, I visited James, one of the premier drum makers in Ghana, who makes drums for the Ashanti Chief, visiting dignitaries, etc. He's a talented guy and makes beautiful drums of various shapes and sizes. James and I talked for a while about drum making: the Tweneboah wood used for the drum body, how to tune the drums by adjusting the depth of the pegs, and getting the right goat skin for the drum head.

The leopard drum is one of the more interesting. The leopard drum wasn't designed for playing, but for scaring off the enemy during battle. When the drumstick is moved in a circular motion around the drum head it actually sounds like a leopard's roar. Tradition has it that the Ashanti warriors would hide in the bushes, making leopard noises with their drums and successfully fend off larger armies.

James made one of the leopard drums for my brother 10 years ago. After Marshall tired of making the leopard drum noise every morning after he brushed his teeth, it quietly sat in the corner mostly untouched. I suppose dried goat skin could smell a bit like goat jerky, which caught the attention of a bored dog and led to the consumption of half the drum head.

I'm not sure how well it digested, probably like an old shoe.

A new drum head is on the way. I suppose we must only feel sorry for the goat.

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