MidSummer in Athens Part I — Drumming

Christy Fricks of Sulukule in Athens hosted a mid-July, day-long trio of workshops to celebrate the middle of summer. Andrea & I found out about it via Facebook, and said to each other “why not?” After all, Athens is less than 1.5 hours on good highway from Andrea’s house, we had the weekend free, and we were both in a “get-outta-town” mood. Plus the workshops themselves looked wonderful and were affordable!

After an easy drive, a U-turn for some Starbuck’s, and some fumbling around in the Chase Street Warehouse District, we arrived at Floorspace Studio — the OLD Floorspace studio. This was to be the last event held in the original location, as they are in the process of moving around the corner into what I assume are new, improved, mo-bigger-mo-better digs. We’d made excellent time & were the second ones there, so we had plenty of time to settle in, chat, introduce ourselves to the Athens ladies, and so on.

Drum workshop, July 21, 2012, Athens GA

The first order of the day was Middle Eastern Drumming, with Marcus Octavius of Greenville, SC. This workshop was an introduction to the various drums used in Middle Eastern dance music as well as a number of the common rhythms and variations that appear. Everyone that didn’t have their own drum, like us, grabbed one of the “loaner” drums to work with and settled in to learn a little theory, followed by the basic strokes of Doum, Tek, and Ka. Once everyone could more or less get the proper sounds out of their instrument, we moved into several of the basic 4/4 rhythms, including Baladi and Maqsoum. We practiced the basic rhythm by chanting it first, then playing it, then embellishing it. Then we added in the 2/4 Ayoub rhythm, followed by 8/4 Masmoudi and Chiftetelli, and finished off with the rather-funky-to-the-Western-ear Karlisima, a 9/8 Turkish rhythm. The two hours was over before we knew it!

Marcus discussing basic rhythm theory.

In a way, I had an advantage in this workshop, since I had a six-week zills class with Lacy back during the winter. We had covered a lot of these rhythms, as well as MANY others, from the zills point of view. Playing them on a drum is definitely different, but the rhythms themselves were familiar. On the other hand, I was trying to play them with this appalling miniature doumbek that was not only too small to play properly, but was covered with PINK pleather. Still, as we practiced the rhythms I would find myself falling into “the zone” and just playing along, DOUM-tekTEK-Doum-TEK.

On to Part 2…

Epilogue: The middle of the following week, Andrea & I paid a visit to Earthshaking Music in East Atlanta Village. I came home with a lovely wood-covered Meinl doumbek.  Andrea found herself a used one a few days later off of Freecycle (!), so we are ready to rock and roll, er, doum and tek?


Photographs courtesy of Jenny Moss (1 & 2)