Percussive Therapy

Why this isn’t clustered with the earlier art of musical instruments I’ll never know, but we’re switching out our lace-making fiber for others of sturdier stuff.

27: Art of playing the vina and the damaru (drum)

Stringed instruments are the most important, particularly the vina. The drum is indispensable. Both are difficult and need to be practiced from childhood if the various notes are to be clearly distinguished.

So this art is about 2 percussion instruments: the Vina, a stringed instrument played either with or without a slide, and the Damaru, a 2-headed, hourglass-shaped drum. Both are popular is Hindu music.

The vina (or veena) is similar to a sitar, which is probably what most of us thing of when Indian stringed instruments are mentioned, but uses gourds as resonators and either is held in the arms or sat in front of while it rests on the floor (either on its resonators or on legs, again, it depends on the style).

Thanks to the wonder of the Internet and the “mecca” that is YouTube, here’s an example of veena music being played by (supposedly) the first female vichitra veena player!

Direct link for the feed readers.

The damaru is a much more portable instrument, it’s small size making it easy to carry along for whatever reason you might have. In many cases, it’s a ritual instrument, and kind of reminds me of that scene at the end of Karate Kid II. But I digress…

Direct link for the feed readers.

Now, I suppose I could have tracked down a damaru or similar drum in town (the vina might have been a little tougher), or even ordered one online and played around with it at my leisure.

Thing is? I’m short of leisure these days and, instead, I’mm using this art as a remider to plunk myself on the ground of my own studio and blow the dust off a stringed instrument I already own. (The dust is only on the case, thankfully.) My poor lap-hard hasn’t been getting much use at all.

Music is more than just playing notes or plucking strings. There’s a certain slow-down that happens, especially with a stringed instrument. You have to get situated, make sure it’s in tune, and remind your fingers where and how they go all before playing a decent note.

With a to-do list a mile long, this sort of thing might not sound like the best use of my time. I’m inclined to disagree, though. Being forced to slow down, reminded to take a moment for beauty and skill, is part of what “better living through creativity” is all about. Music may be ephemeral, ethereal, and a thousand other intangible things, but it’s the sort of thing that will never clutter up your corner or make more for you to dust. It will adjust your attitude, though.

So I encourage you to dust off that guitar you stopped taking lessons on months ago, open up the piano or even make your own tissue-box guitar and just have some fun making some noise.

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