Sunday, January 6, 2013

Auctions of Drums, Gongs, Tibetan Bowls, Recordings, Other Sound Healing Items

The cost of good quality drums, gongs, Tibetan bowls, recordings and other items used for healing with sound can really add up. But there is a website where you can buy them at auction for pennies on the dollar---with no risk.

The DealDash auction site will give you all your bids back if you don't win your first auction. It is one of those sites where you buy packages of bids, and it aims to be a fun place with fair, honest auctions where people have a good time and get great bargains.

The regular price for bids is 60 cents each (bid packages of various numbers of bids). But right now, for example, you can buy packages of bids as cheap as 13 cents. There are always special deals on for bid packages. You seldom pay full price, and there are also auctions for bid packages where they sell quite cheaply.

Today the site is offering several nice djembes, a djembe instruction course, and a bunch of beautiful Asian gongs. I also found hand bells and a variety of different kinds of chimes. (It is very easy to search the site.) Coming soon is an auction for a Tibetan bowl.

There are also CDs, books, DVDs and other items related to drumming, sound healing and so on.

This message is brought to you by our friends at DealDash.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Throat-Singing & Women

Throat-singing, or multinote singing and toning, is not just for men. In the cultures where throat-singing seems to have originated, women traditionally do some forms of throat-singing, too.

In Mongolia and Tuva women do not do all the forms of throat-singing. Some forms require a deep voice, for example. But then most men do not seem to do all the forms. One man may do several forms (if he's really into it), but most specialize in one form.

No one knows when throat-singing started, but it is interesting to note that at least some of the Inuit, or Eskimos, practiced a form of throat-singing, done only by women. 

Are they practicing an ancient form that they developed before they left Asia, or did they develop it on their own. No one knows.

Although throat-singing is associated with the vast region of Siberia, Mongolia and Tuva, Tibetan Buddhist  monks carried a form of it back to Tibet, where they developed their own very deep style that is hard even for many men and impossible for most women.

But the point of throat-singing is the harmonics. Old tales tell of the calming power of throat-singing. And harmonics exist in other forms of singing, such as the traditional Bulgarian folk-singing style practiced by the group Angelite, a women's choir.

And singer-songwriter Sheila Chandra has pointed out that the music of India and Ireland have some of the same qualities. Listening to her recordings, you can hear the harmonics. I'll bet she would be (perhaps is) good at some forms of throat-singing.

You don't have to be great at throat-singing to experience that calming effect. Women and men can practice throat-singing as a form of meditation. It's fun to do while driving, because no one can hear you (when you're alone in the car), so you don't have to worry about how you sound.

So the answer is Yes, women can do throat-singing and can have fun and benefit from it, too. Try it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cryptic Off-Topic Post

Like weird music playing over and over in your head, this cryptic blog post:

So small it could almost be a miniature elephant

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tips for Getting Nasty Smells out of Drums

I received an email today asking how to get the smell of rancid oil out of drumheads. A drummer who lives in an extremely dry climate had been advised by an "expert" to apply almond oil to the skins of two frame drums. The oil had gone rancid and smelled bad.

The woman who wrote to me wondered if it would help to put clove oil on the drum heads in hopes of covering the smell. (Not a good idea.)

It took me awhile to compose a reply, and then I thought the info might be useful to other drummers. In the last few months I have spent time around two very smelly drums from Africa (really nauseating), so I know that brand new drums often have poorly prepared skin heads that stink to high heaven.

So here is what I have learned about getting rid of nasty smells without harming drumheads:

CAUTION: Be very careful about actually applying anything to drum heads, especially natural skin heads.

My djembe teacher would have advised using palm oil if necessary to protect a drumhead in a dry climate. But only the tiniest, tiniest bit. 

Normally drums that are used constantly get enough oil from the hands of the drummer.

To remove any excess oil you have applied, you could store the drums skin down on paper towels in a warm place (not hot, or the skin could split). The paper towels will absorb excess oil.

Assuming excess oil is not part of the problem, there are ways to remove odor that you can try.

The smell will eventually weaken some on its own. 

However, here are some methods that may help.

Apple Slices

The best deodorizer is to place a drum in a big trash bag with a some apple slices. You slice up an apple or two and spread the slices out on a tray (for maximum exposure), then put a wire rack (such as those used to cool cakes and cookies) over the tray to keep the drum from touching the apple slices.

Seal up the bag and leave it sealed up for at least a week.

Apple will absorb quite horrible organic odors (as of dead bodies, for example), so it should work for your drums.

Baking Soda

After the apple treatment, if there is any remaining smell, you could try using baking soda in the same way you used the apples slices (tray, wire rack, sealed garbage bag).

Baking soda is not nearly as efficient as the apples but could help remove the remnants of scent after the apple treatment. If there is any residual odor after the apple treatment, I would try the baking soda treatment for a week.

Do NOT try to combine the apple and baking soda in the same treatment. They will sort of cancel each other out. They must be done separately.


After the apple treatment, you could try sealing the drum up in a bag with incense (not burning) and leaving it for a few days. If the incense is strong, that should mask any remaining odor somewhat.  (If you do the incense before or with the baking soda, the soda will just absorb the incense scent, negating the effect.)

Or you could actually smudge the drums with incense smoke to mask any remaining odor.

Essential Oils (Not Recommended)

As to the clove, essential oils are not actually oils. They are the fine, volatile particles of the plant. The difference between oils like corn oil or almond oil and essential "oils" is like the difference between vasoline and jet fuel. Both vasoline and jet fuel are petroleum products, but you would not put jet fuel on your skin.

Only the citrus oils, such as orange, lemon, lime, mandarin, etc. (which are not true essential oils) are actually oils pressed out of the plant. It is possible that a **tiny** dab of orange oil might be OK to use to mask any remnants of rancid scent after you do the apple absorption method, but it is risky.

Anything that you would not rub directly into your own skin is risky to put on a drum, and lots of things that are good for your skin are still bad for drums.

Drum heads are just dead skin after all. As such, they are fragile. Being stretched so tightly under such high tension as they are on a drum, they are incredibly vulnerable to any substance that may weaken them even slightly. Any liquid is risky to apply to a drumhead.

Scents During Storage

You could put any essential oil that you like on a pad of some kind and store it in a sealed bag with the drums. Just be careful to make sure the essential oil does not touch the drum head. Once you figure out a way to do that, you may want to store the essential oil pad in the drum case with your drum all the time.

Or you could simply keep a couple of boxes of richly scented incense in the drum case instead. Nag champa, for example, smells nice and will eventually permeate anything it is stored with.

I would only do that after deodorizing the drums with apple and baking soda, but you may want to experiment. Good nag champa incense is inexpensive and you can always try it again after the apple treatment.

Remember, though, sliced apple works better than anything that I have ever heard of.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Harmonic Toning, Trance, and Drumming

Harmonics are the extra sounds above and below the main notes in music. Tibetan bowls and Mongolian throat-singers are famous for them. But you can also hear them in certain Tibetan chants  (the really deep, growly ones), some other singing and musical instruments, and in certain kinds of drumming.

It is said that shamans actually travel on the overtones (harmonics of drumming) and I believe it. I can sometimes here overtones in rattling, too. And it sounds to me as though a form of throat-singing is how that characteristic sound is made in the didgeridu.

Our shamanism Meetup group sometimes practices harmonic toning---not often enough, I guess, but whenever we need to use it with an ecstatic trance posture. (For more info on ecstatic trance postures see or my Houston Shamanism Examiner column.)

Last Saturday I taught how to do it again, because there were some new people present, and then I taught them a new trance posture to do the toning with. All I did was get them started in a couple of the simpler forms of hoomei, or Mongolian throat-singing.

It was one of those nights. The CD player would not work, so instead of getting to try out the posture with them, I had to drum. But I also needed to tone with them, because in a smallish group (nine of us), people tend to be shy about singing or making what are to them weird noises.

The problem was that toning tends to make my drumming slow down too much, and I was really tired already from drumming for a couple of other journeys.

So I started drumming, intending not to tone, but I did anyway, and it was amazing. I got more harmonics (the high whistling or fluting sound in throat-singing) than I probably ever have (since I never practice). And the drumming did not slow down.

Apparently I tranced out while toning. One of the other participants claimed that I drummed for 40 minutes, when I thought it was just 15 or 20 minutes. I knew harmonic toning was a great meditation, but I did not expect to trance out like that while doing it.

So here is my recommendation: Find a place to learn harmonic toning or throat-singing, and give it a try. If nothing else, get some good throat-singing CDs and harmonic toning CDs, like those of David Hykes and his Harmonic Choir, and listen to them carefully while in a quiet, meditative state.

Listening to harmonic sounds will make you feel great! And it is the first step in learning how to do it yourself.

Learning to make harmonic sounds yourself will make you feel even better.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tips on Caring for Shamanic Drums

I just posted a new article on Houston Shamanism, "6 Tips on Caring for Shamanic Drums in Houston," but these tips are applicable to just about any natural skin drums anywhere.

There are tips on drum storage, safely transporting your drum, the dangers of too much heat, what to do about too much moisture, using the right kind of beater to avoid damaging your drum, and avoiding undesirable metaphysical influences.

I hope you will stop by, take a look, and leave a comment.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Choosing a Drum for Shamanic Journeying

Shamanic drumming is one way to use sound in the healing process. The drumming itself does part of the work, and the shamanic practitioner does the rest.

I just posted a couple of articles on my new column, Houston Shamanism Examiner: Shamanic drumming for journeying, and How to choose a shamanic drum.

I hope you will stop by and take a look.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Music Helps Parkinson's Patients | BYBS

Here is the link I promised to an interesting KUHF radio feature on medical research studying how music helps Parkinson's Disease patients, by reporter Melissa Galvez.

You can hear and download the audio file (MP3 or iTunes format) and read and print the transcript.

Medical research on the use of sound for healing Parkinson's: What a blessing!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Drumming to an Ancient Beat

I love radio and TV stories that feature African drumming, and I thought you might, too. My teacher, Abubakr Kouyate, is often on the radio or TV, but normally it is a complete surprise, and most of us miss it.

Recently, however, one of our Thursday night classmates, Melissa Galvez, a reporter for KUHF radio, did a feature on the class, called Drumming to an Ancient Beat. The feature aired on KUHF on April 16.

KUHF had recently done a feature on drumming as therapy for Parkinson's disease, and this was a followup story on the benefits of drumming. (I will find and post the link the Parkinson's story, too, if I can.)

Melissa recorded some clips of Abubakr and parts of the class and she interviewed a few students afterward. 

You can hear and download the audio file and also read and print the transcript here:\

(To download the audio files, scroll to the bottom.)

Melissa did a fabulous job, even mentioning Temples Gate, the shop that hosts the class, in the lead-in and providing a link to Abubakr's web site,

Thanks, Melissa! (And thanks to KUHF for making the recording and transcript available on their web site.)

I hope this inspires other radio or TV reporters to do their own stories on the mental and physical health benefits of

So please checke it out. I don't know how long features like this remain available on the KUHF web site. If you like it, download it while you can.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Full Synth Piano Widget | BYBS

Want to play piano on your computer? Now you can. Easily. For free. 

If you scroll all the way to the bottom of this page, you will find a full-keyboard synth piano that you can play with your mouse. It actually sounds great that way. 

If you click on the button in the upper right corner, just above the keys, you can play it by pressing the actual keys your computer keyboard. I tried it, and it seems great to me, but I don't play the piano. Those of you who do, please try it out and leave a comment. 

As always, you can click on a tab at the bottom of the widget to go get the widget for your own site. A full synth keyboard that you can play on a netbook. What a blessing!