We have a new addition to our household!
His face is . . . goaty.
No, really. It’s made of goat skin.
He’s also very strappy, as you can see.
And he can be quite vociferous when walloped. I like walloping him.
This is my birthday present this year. I shimmied over to Andy’s Music store on Belmont Avenue last week in the blistering heat and talked the ears off 2 salesmen and 2 random customers in my sincere efforts to choose the best djembe possible.
For example, should I go for a synthetic skinned djembe or one with a real animal skin? And if I got the real animal skin, is goat or cow hide better? How hard is it to tune a djembe that has a rope system instead of metal screws you can just tighten or loosen with a key? How does the synthetic skin respond to heat and cold as opposed to animal skins? And while we’re at it, can I get a discount?
All 4 gentlemen were unanimous in their advice: go with the goat. Yes, it’s a heavier drum, it’s harder to tune, there’s no strap attached for my carrying ease, and it’s more expensive to replace the skin when you bust through it after a few years of use–but it’s simply a better instrument.
I tested the drums for an hour, and in the end, the musician in me couldn’t put future conveniences above the pure sound of the thing. I went with my heart and bought the djembe with the best dang sound.
I should also mention there was only a $5 price difference between the goaty and synthetic djembes, which made the decision a lot more straightforward. If the better instrument had required me to get a second mortgage or something, then better sound better schmound. I wouldna couldna dunnit. (Of course, not owning a house, the whole second mortgage thing would have been a bust anyway.)
I’m very new to percussion–my experience is limited to playing the tambourine at 10 years of age during summer camp and demurely shaking the egg shaker at church every now and then (as long as I can manage to sing at the same time–vrreeery challenging). Oh, and earlier this year I smacked around a tambourine on the morning of Easter Sunday, developing a string of painful blisters across my right hand that later turned into ugly little yellow callouses, which by the way looked more like a bizarre infection than a mark of musicianship. But other than that, percussion is a brand-spanking new world to me.
Keeping a good rhythm seems to require just the right amount of not-thinking, which is a very weird place to try to get my mind. Almost meditative, I guess. I’m sure it’s good for my brain, and also great practice for . . . something.
Like for . . . being sent to a nunnery against my will. Or being thrown unexpectedly into a solitary confinement chamber. You certainly never know when that’s going to happen. Or . . . like . . . um . . . like, if suddenly my life is on the line because I unwittingly fell into a nest of ninja fighters and the only way to throw off the killers is to go into a state of deep meditation as quickly as possible. Then I’ll be much more likely to get out alive.
I feel safer and more prepared to face the world already.
Anyway, the egg-shaking experience has been a great foray into percussion (and my learning journey with it is by no means over), but I need a little more to work with–something with good vibrations that I can hit hard.
Pose with the djembe! I cried to my unsuspecting husband.
He started to . . . but then got distracted killing a spider.
Sorry, Mr. 8-legged Critter. This city just ain’t big enough for the both of us.
Then a fight broke out on the street which needed to be checked out by our Household Safety Officer.
Okay, looks like we’re in the clear.
That’s great honey, I encouraged. Now give ‘er a nice ole smack!
Welcome, loud and goaty guy. You fit the bill.