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Martin Neil

Preparing for an evening of drums

The Heartbeat of Music

By | Drums | No Comments

The drum is one of the oldest known musical instruments, being played in various forms by nearly every people group in the world, producing a huge variety of sounds fashioned in many shapes and sizes, the drum provides the foundation to most traditional and modern day music.

For over 4,000 years drums have been used in many diverse situations, e.g. in religious celebrations, for sending signals or messages, on the battlefield during the Civil War, to help African slaves overcome the boredom of hard monotonous work, storytelling in China, carnivals in Brazil, healing, dancing, and entertainment. Read More

Chipmunk Big Bear CA

The Americas

By | Americas | No Comments

Having travelled to 49 of the 50 states in North America, I have realised the amazing diversity amongst its people. In fact  the Americas (North and South) are home to over 1000 indigenous languages. And what amazing musical sounds and styles from the second line drumming of New Orleans,  Inuit throat singing known as katajjaq from Quebec to Brazillian samba and Guyana calypso. What stands out artistically amongst the indigenous people of these lands is their visual arts – their pottery, paintings, jewellery, weavings, basketry, beadwork, carvings and sculptures.

Jingle Dance

By | Americas | No Comments

The beautiful Jingle dance regalia is adorned with metal cones that cause a unique sound as they shake together. These are made from 365 snuff or chewing tobacco lids! The origins of the dance are from a dream that an Ojibwe man had, which instructed him in a style of dress and dance that would heal a young girl. I have also heard it called a Prayer dance. More powwow pictures.

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Muckleshoot Reservation

By | First Nations | No Comments

It was great to visit the Muckleshoot Tribal grounds in Auburn. We were shown around by Norma McCleary whose mother was the last person fluent in their language. There is a language program trying to encourage revitalisation. They also have incredible facilities from an amphitheatre to wonderful powwow grounds for the community – thanks for the warm welcome Kenny and Charlotte Williams. Read More

Walking Buffalo Singers

By | Drums | No Comments

Incredible drumming and singing at the 60th Annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Powwow on the Wind River Reservation in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, from the Walking Buffalo Singers from Big River Saskatchewan, Canada. A new generation of young singers – most related to the original group who recorded three albums.

Native Drums

By | Drums | No Comments

A wonderful few days with Jerry Chapman from the Stó:Lō Nation. He is a very creative builder of Native drums. We met many years ago when I was asking an event organiser if there were any Native drums that I could use and Jerry was passing by at the time and remarked “I have a van full of drums.” We have been friends ever since.  Seeing the drum set-ups I have used with drums from around the world on a rack, inspired him to use deer antlers for hardware and experiment with different sizes and shapes for Native drums.

Te-lah-nay stone memorial

By | My Stories | No Comments

I had read the stories but it was a very moving experience visiting Tom Hendrix’s 30 year journey of building an incredible stone memorial honouring his great great Grandmother, Te-lah-nay. A young Yuchi teenager who was forced to walk to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. Having grown up by the Singing River in Alabama, the sound drew her back. So after escaping she spent 5 years walking back to her land. Each stone on the memorial wall represents one step of her journey. Also, the shape, height, and width of the wall changes to represent the various obstacles she encountered.