I have long wanted a frame drum

Maybe now I know why I just couldn’t decide to buy one… making one is Much better! The class for making this drum was taught by two men who practice the spiritual traditions of the Blackfoot people; of course they intend the drums for personal spiritual use. This form, a Journey Drum, is made of Elk hide over a wood frame, laced and stretched with hide lacing. We also made the beaters, from lengths of wood chosen in a personally meaningful way.
Such drums traditionally are made over the course of months, and include acquiring the hide from an already dead animal (earliest tradition was horsehide), gathering the other materials. Making the drum in one day, this way, is amazing, and I wasn’t sure what the sound would be like, as it takes from 24-36 hours to dry to taughtness.
However, when I heard it’s first voice, I felt a deep smile happen involuntarily while my body felt that kind of “goosebumps” ripple all over.
This is why I made the video, so I could share the sound and beauty.
Thanks, so very much, Jimmy Thiem and co-leader, Chuck Skelton.


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Wayne Upchurch

For years, as a “professional ogler” (a newspaper staff photographer), I simultaneously explored photography as craft/process/medium in its own right. The photojournalism work –credentials and mindset– got me into (and out of) places I would certainly never have had access to on my own. I was also practicing the discipline of getting a picture where there didn’t appear to be one and getting it Finished in a timely manner, to professional standards. I also learned to create imminently readable images despite poor reproduction in a small size. Though it took me several years to get this, the value of making photos that illustrated something already laid out in the story was suddenly Not Enough, and I began to make assignment pictures that added dimensions not already in the writing, or better Yet, raised questions so that the reader would go to the story for more answers. Having gained more than dreamt of, when starting out, I left to pursue my own personal photography, mounting exhibits along the way. I also worked with commercial photographer friends doing studio product photography, and making headshots for actors. Later, I also helmed a Public Radio “spacemusic” program, and acted in a Wilmington, NC drama company. I put the cameras away for a few years, to finish shedding the habit of self-limiting my identity as just “Photographer”, and can now pursue personal pleasure and expression through the freedom that digital imaging offers. Sharing photos on Flickr and participating locally in meetups and outings has renewed a passion for making new images and for sharing the process with others. For some time, I’ve found myself writing detailed comments on other people’s photos, as well as thoughts and pet ideas about photography, in general.

4 thoughts on “I have long wanted a frame drum”

  1. Beautiful, Wayne! Loved hearing the story behind making the drum. The sound is calm and touching. I like the video, too – what kind of software did you edit it with?

  2. Katariina, I shot the stills with my Nikon D7000, and recorded the drum sound with a microphone I used for pre-producing a radio show I did years back. For editing the sound, I used a simple sound editor program, and for cutting it all together, I used the latest version of Corel's VideoStudio X6.

    I LOVE that you found the sound "calm and touching". Thank You, Katariina.

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