July 13, 2021

Rhythm: Drums and Spoons

Rhythm: Drums and Spoons

Some time ago, I signed up for a rolling class in trance drumming/chanting/dancing, called Gorgonas, not long before the teacher had to take a long break due to life stuff. Well, it's started back up, and I'm thrilled that it has, as I'm having a blast with it.

Look, I have a very poor sense of rhythm. Been true all my life. I've always regretted that, and envied my brother, who has both an excellent sense of rhythm and a good ear for music (which I also lack). I'm trying to use this class as a way to improve my sense of rhythm, to really work it into my flesh and bones. But I've also had to give myself what I call "permission to suck" – I acknowledge ahead of time that I'm not going to be good at this, probably ever, and the point is not to be good, but to enjoy the experience. And, in this case, to allow the rhythm to transport me. I don't need to be good to do that.

Today, we talked about using wooden spoons for rhythm, as is done in Turkey and other places in what was once Magna Graecia. Turkish dancing spoons (they're used by the dancers to keep the beat) look like this:

Image off Etsy

Those are longer than they look, a good eight or ten inches. And they're played like this:

That's a professional troupe at a wedding, and the guy in the tux who joins them is the groom, if I understand correctly.

The teacher just had us either use metal spoons from the house, or pick up small wooden teaspoons from Amazon or wherever. I did the latter. You can see mine in the post image. Since Turkish or other dancing spoons can be quite expensive and usually have to be shipped from another country, this is her accessability compromise, and I have to say I liked it. Turkish spoons look too big for my little fat hands.

You may or may not be familiar with how metal spoons are played in the American South. This is a very different sort of thing, and in fact much easier, at least for me. I was able to pick it up quickly and easily, and I'm very pleased to have a rhythm instrument (that isn't an egg rattle) that I can stick in my pocket and take with me. Another way to work rhythm into my body, to learn to enjoy it again, the way I did as a child, before I learned I was bad at it.

I spend a lot of the video class periods laughing, usually at my own mistakes, but most of the other class members look So Serious all the time. The teacher keeps telling us to enjoy ourselves, and I suppose they're really just focusing really hard, but I don't understand why they don't let themselves go more.