We could hear them before we could see them. People
were drumming. Drumming on big drums, drumming on
small drums, pounding away on anything that made a
crowd had gathered on the sand. I was with my friend
Susi and we were on Venice beach in California. It
was late afternoon and the sun was setting. 200 odd
people, and they were odd, had formed a haphazard
Susi and I went to investigate .
People were standing, most were sitting. Some
were dancing and moving to the beat. Those who didn't
want to dance in such a freestyle manner or didn't have
anything to bang, moved around the outside of the
I studied the circle and realised that there was no
leading this group of drummers. There was no single
dominant drum and no set pattern or rhythm. Everyone
doing their own thing. There were giant drums stretched
with skins, bongos, triangles, maracas and tambourines.
As I moved from one place to another the sound and
rhythm changed. Although each player was drumming in
their own way, they all made a vital contribution to the
From each of my vantage points the beat sounded
different. Each time I stopped the instruments closest to
me were the one's that featured most heavily in my
experience of the sound.
I began to see this as a model for how our world
Each country, each individual has their own cultural
rhythms and instruments, (belief structures and political
systems). Some play at having the biggest drum that
beats the loudest. Some play faster, some slower. Some
people aren't even playing drums at all, yet we all have
a contribution to make to the beating whole.
Gradually the tempo slowed. No one drum signalled
they just all began to stop. The audience thought it was
over and began to applaud. My drumming world was
coming to an end.
However a few smaller drums continued on. They
the life force beating.
As organically as it slowed, the pace began to pick
again. People joined in again and the beat grew stronger.
No one dominant drum, no culture dominating.
Everyone making an individual contribution to the larger
heartbeat.- Sharyn Wortman