For many years now, I’ve played the drums.
It has frequently been about rock and roll, as opposed to the ‘djembe by the bonfire on the beach’ type drumming, more than a few of us have no doubt dabbled in.
As a child, for many years watching a close family member destroy themselves with drugs and alcohol, drums were cathartic—a way to express the emotions my young self couldn’t give voice to any other way.
Playing drums has opened doors, physical and otherwise, and thrust me into some of the most wonderful experiences of my life.
After learning to play, and honing my craft, on much loved second-hand drum kits, I decided to splash out on my first new kit. I’d finally be the one to play it in—imprinted with my strokes and rolls; my personality.
Over the first year of owning these drums and playing them every day, the sound of the drums changed dramatically. I’d read new drums do this. They shifted away from being bright, boisterous, eagre-to-prove-themselves and toward a softer, fuller, easier voice as we became better aquatinted with one another.
They lost their brittle edge and relaxed into their natural voice, much the way my own voice did after a protracted and awkward adolescence that seemed to finally end sometime in my early thirties.
They sounded better day after day and I loved them for it.
The physics behind this change is glorious in its simplicity. Each time you strike the drum with a stick, the sound vibrations through the wooden shell move its molecules, lining them up toward the path of least resistance.
Over time, these infinitesimal changes build up and result in a drum shell that vibrates as sympathetically as possible with the natural frequencies the wood wants to resonate at.
The result is a drum that sounds warm and true, sings fully and comfortably, having developed an easy confidence in how it rings. It essentially learns through repeated action to slough off the last of its factory-tempered affectation slipping into its individual voice.
After an evening yoga class, when the teacher had encouraged us to use our hands to feel the resonance in our own bodies, and those of the other students, I got to thinking.
Sound waves are sound waves, what possible difference is there if the vibrations come from a drum stick against a drum skin or from my own speaking voice, moving out from my body into the world?
If the molecules in a drum learn to ring with clarity and purpose after time, maybe the molecules in my body become sympathetic to the frequencies I generate?
I’ve been known to enjoy a chat and thanks to my mama, I was always conscious of the power that our words have over others. I like to think I’m aware of the ways my words impact those around me but I’ve only now started to consider that my practiced compassion for the way I speak with others builds upon itself.
After all these years, the molecules in my body resonate most clearly and truly when I speak with compassion and love.
They’ve just lined up that way.
Even more so, I find myself instantly receptive to others who speak to me with the same intention, resonating quickly and easily. And yet I’ve known people for whom the polar opposite is true, those for whom negativity and malcontent bubble forth at the slightest shift in the breeze.
It’s a practiced behaviour, aided and abetted no doubt by the subtle physics at play. And I see in them the very same way the molecules in my drums shift and move in line with the vibrations I feed them, consciously or otherwise.
From there, it’s a short coda to wonder how the vibrations I send out impact those around me. Am I helping move them toward harmony or discord?
This idea is but a simple filter through which I’ve decided to see, or rather feel, my bearing on the people kind enough to put up with my aimless ramblings about the generally lovely nature of pretty much everything.
The next time we speak with those closest to us, take a moment and consider the direction our atoms are dancing in according to the tune we’ve played through them.
Are they headed toward the people we already love or those who’s songs we’ve yet to learn?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Brenna Fischer / Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: Wiki Commons