Dark Waters.org /
Previous Page

Drum Circle Basics

Next Page
Previous Page

Drum Circle Basics

Next Page

Drum Circle Basics

Drum circles come in many forms – from technically precise performances to crazed freeform jams. The following general suggestions can enhance any group drumming experience, regardless of its style or goals.

Be supportive of others

Remember that each person in the circle is sharing their personal time and energy with you and the circle – a special kind of gift. For many people drum circles can be very powerful and intimate. Always return to them not only the energy of your drumming but also your respect, patience, guidance, and appreciation.

Listen to and play with others

Find the "pulse" (the prominent bass beats, rests, and accents that you "feel") and follow it. Even if you’re only playing one repetitive beat that supports each pulse, it actually adds a lot! It is this pulse (yet not necessarily one particular rhythm) that holds the circle together. In circles with a strong enough pulse, individual drummers can safely lose themselves briefly, playing freeform, and still find their way back to the circle again.

Follow the leader. Watch and listen for the pulse and signals (i.e., "Break" beats, countdowns, gestures, or verbal instructions.) If the pulse changes or you get lost, either stop or play very quietly until you find it again. If there is no clear leader, follow the most confident sounding drummer you can hear clearly.

Play soft enough that everyone can be heard (including any singers, guitarists, etc.) Do not to play over others in the circle! Similarly, play slow enough that everyone can keep up. And as tempo and volume change, adjust accordingly.

Get involved and have fun!

Don’t worry; everyone has rhythm – it jus’ takes time to find it. If need be, start simple – try slapping your knees, humming, clapping, or playing the quieter (more forgiving) drums. Do anything you feel like as long as it doesn’t disrupt others; and be creative! Most importantly, enjoy!

When in doubt, ask

Every drum circle and every drummer is different. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, how to do something, or whatever, just ask. We’re all learning this together!