Drums by Kasin Hunter, 2001
The lovely Barrel drum shows how a closed bottom bushel gourd can be used.
Instead of a ring on the bottom, the maker uses a secondary round of leather. The
lacing is then lashed back and forth, holding the top beating leather in place.
Light blues and whites are carried through the design by leather strips, shells,
heishi, and feathers. A leather-wrapped stick in complimentary blue serves as the beater.
This next example is a quasi-Conical drum. Conical drums have sloping sides and one head, being
open on the bottom for a better sounding effect. As shown in the righthand picture, this
quasi-Conical drum was made from the lid of a kettle gourd with the extreme end cut open for
the sounding hole. A plastic ring (an embroidary hoop - how creative!) was used for the
bottom lashing post.
This African-style drum done in a bent Goblet shape uses a simple cord as the
bottom lashing post. As can be seen in the second picture, a hole has also been cut
into the bottom part of the long neck for enhancement of sound.
Drum beaters can be
made from a variety of materials and still work very effectively.
In the picture below, you see five rather easy to construct drum beaters.
A - tanned leather (1/2 inch wide; 10 inches or so long) is folded up on itself. Inside
the bend is placed a wad of native Arizona cotton. Around the wad is wrapped a circle
of suede. This is glued and sewn around the wadded leather bend. The two strips of the
handle are glued together,
then sewn on edges. Beads applied for accents. The long ends of the sewing cordages are
tipped with several emu feathers and oblong wooden beads for accents. This type of beater
sounds especially good on the African-style drum.
B - You can't get much easier than this. Tie a knot in the middle of a worn piece of
thick cordage. Double it up, glue then twist it, and hold until the glue is fairly dry.
This works surprisingly well for gentle beats.
C - An odd looking beater, this is fashioned from a branching tree limb. Cut off so the
beater will include the handle plus the offshoot, a leather top is woven then wrapped
up the beating part. All is glued in the process then waxed completely for good hold and
good feel. I waxed the entire forked stick. This put a welcoming touch in the hand. The
beater feels like it wants to be held.
The angled beater is more than just a eye-catcher. It is felt by the Africans that this
angle aids in protection of the drumming leathers being that it comes down directly on the
surface rather than obliquely.
D - One of the most simply made beaters, the end of the stick is capped off with a round
of suede stuffed with whatever you can find, in this case, a rubber ball. The leather
round is glued and sewn onto the stick end with the cordage continuing its wrap down
the stick until secure. This stick was also waxed well for welcome texture.
E - The easiest beater to make. Wrap a thick, glued strip of leather around the end of
Beater choice can be determined by experience and trial. Not every beater sounds right on
every drum. Some drums sound better with just the plain hand or fingers used to sound it.
Whatever you use, whatever gourd drum you make, enjoy the experience for what it can
bring you. Take each drum as an individual - each has its own voice, its own feel.
Here's a drum that doesn't need a beater, that's
because, it's not a membranophone; it's an idiophone, a self-sounding drum.
This Ipu Heke stands about three feet tall. It is
played by pounding it on the ground, or if you like, slapped with your hand.
Drum row three.