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What is Meant by the Healing Art of Drumming?
This article addresses how musical elements and frequency are used in the healing art of drumming.
Musical Elements for Healing
What are Musical Elements?
Musical elements are the building blocks of all music. The musical elements are rhythm, harmony & melody. In regards to healing, let's also include timbre*, which although is not a musical element, does have the capacity to induce healing.
What is Healing?
Healing refers to the development of a greater sense of well being. One way healing through drumming & music occurs is when a musical element induces a greater sense of well being. Each musical element can do this, however it is not guaranteed that each one will. Achieving healing through the musical elements is dependent upon how one uses, or applies, a given element. Any element can produce negative, positive or somewhat neutral results in regards to healing. On the negative side the elements have the capacity to induce dissonance, unease & confusion. On the positive side the elements have the capacity to induce relaxation, peace, joy and other virtues.
Healing does NOT have to refer to the healing of a bleeding wound, damaged organ or other physical ailment or trauma (although music may help heal these too). Instead, healing simply means one has achieved a greater sense of well being. Qualities & virtues such as relaxation, peace & joy give us a better sense of well being. Thus, the elements of music are tools, which can brings us healing by building up our sense of well being.
The art of drumming is a very practical art because it can give practitioners a better sense of well being on a daily basis. Plus, the amount of healing one receives does not have a fixed limit; rather it will increase with practice, time and the development of skill. The longer one skillfully practices the healing art of drumming the more benefits one will get.
The healing power of drumming works largely through rhythm and harmony. However, many tuned percussion instruments, such as the vibraphone, can produce melodies for amazing healing results. Regarding rhythm, it has the ability to loosen, free and stimulate flow. In fact, rhythm is flow. Playing rhythms & dancing to rhythms helps the mind and body reach a state of flow (a zone in which a succession goals or activities are being accomplished effortlessly).
In my experience, I have found that one drum is enough to induce healing, that is, a greater sense of well being. Yet the most powerful healing effects that I've experienced from drumming have come when I've played in drum circles with other drummers. In drum circles the increased number of rhythms and harmonies creates a synergistic effect in which the whole is much greater than the sum of it's parts. Also, drum circles are often improvisational, which like rhythm, stimulates release, flow and healing. The polyrhythmic and improvisational qualities of drum circles help to make them a joyous and potent healing experience.
Frequency and Pitch for Healing
Aside from the healing power which can be achieved through the elements of music, the proper use of frequency or pitch can also induce healing. In the healing art industry the use of frequency for healing is called sound healing. The idea behind sound healing is that certain frequencies in the correct proportion help release blockages and harmonize our body and thoughts. Gongs, singing bowls (including crystal bowls), tuned percussion & some drums are instruments commonly used in Sound Healing.
It is known that everything in the universe vibrates. Whether large things like planets & galaxies or smaller things like human beings & molecules - everything vibrates. Since everything vibrates one common practice in sound healing is to find an instrument with a frequency that vibrates in harmony with a patient's body. Another practice is to use frequency like a massage. The physical nature of sound vibration can relax and release physical and mental blockages, such as stiff muscles or negative thoughts, very much the way massages do. Using sound to release blockages can be an effective healing strategy because releasing any blockage virtually always induces a greater sense of well being.
*Timbre is the sound quality of an instrument. Every instrument has it's own particular timbre, however there are some general categories of timbre, including glassy-sounding, brassy-sounding, tinny-sounding and so on. Timbre is technically not an element of music; rather it is a dynamic of music.