For this latest installment of Other Horizons, the weekly post where Agonist authors leave politics behind, I thought I’d write about one of my passions. Drums.
Terry Pratchett once observed that a drummer hits things with sticks and, when he’s done that, hits them again. I suspect Celts might be natural drummers. There’s a long tradition of drumming in the gaelic lands, most famously in the martial sound of the massed pipe bands but there’s also the great old war drums which eventually saw expression as the Irish lambeg, and the softer sound of the bodhrán, which is played in rhythms that evoke the cantering or gallop of horses. The very sound of those old celtic pipe and drum rhythms is a music that gets in the bloodstream and climbs up the spine to the backbrain all on its own, primitively entrancing.
Scottish band Albannach played on the Braveheart soundtrack:
My father played, and I first took up the sticks when I was about eleven or twelve. I played the old Scottish rhythms, but also rock and pop. I was never more than competent, although I played in a couple of college bands with folk who went on to finer musical things. I looked up with awe at the greatest of the rock drummers of the era and was flat open-mouthed gobsmacked at the greatest of them all.
I sold my drums in the mid-Eighties to put the deposit down on an apartment rental for myself and my girlfriend. I had a sad. I had to get drunk first, before I could send them away.
Then, that was me – confined to patting out drum beats on the arms of the chair or the steering wheel of the car for two decades…until Christmas, when my eldest son horrified his mother and our neighbours by buying me a new drum kit! It’s like learning all over again after all these years but at last I can again do my Animal impression and yell, “Drum! Drum, drum!”.