Friday, July 09, 2010
Why is it that indigenous cultures rely so heavily upon drumming? Virtually every American Indian tribe, nearly all African tribes, most South American Indian groups, and the Australian Aborigines include drumming in their most sacred ceremonies. Even in modern Western society the drum is important in music. It seems to do more than hold the beat of the tune. It is as though it gets into our very being. We feel the beat. Indigenous cultures utilize the drum to enter altered states of consciousness (ASC) in order to do work of a spiritual nature. Is there something in this drumming that can be used by the technician? Could this be a tool overlooked because of its origin in “lesser” cultures? Melinda C. Maxfield, Ph.D., in her 1984 doctoral dissertation, Effects of Rhythmic Drumming on EEG and Subjective Experience, introduces us to The Journey of the Drum. Journey drumming consists of a regular drum beat of a pattern that duplicates a certain brain wave frequency. The brain waves sought for are:
- Delta waves at 4 Hz or 4 beats per second. This wave is associated with sleep or unconsciousness.
- Theta waves at 4 to 8 Hz or 4 - 8 beats per second (a fast drum beat) are associated with states of reverie and hypnogogic dreamlike imagery.
- Alpha waves at 8 to 13 Hz or 8 - 13 beats per second are associated with states of relaxation and general well-being. Alpha generally appears in the occipital region of the brain (the visual cortex) when the eyes are closed. Consciousness is alert and unfocused, or focused on the interior world. It is the world of RET.
- Beta waves at 13 Hz or higher are associated with active attention and focus on the exterior world. It is also present during states of tension, anxiety, fear and alarm.