I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in music history related to spiritual practice and feminine energy. Painstakingly researched and beautifully written, Layne Redmond takes you on a journey into ancient cultures, how music was used in the culture, specifically, the frame drum in ancient rituals, through a study of art and archeology.
Music is and has always been the bridge between the conscious and subconscious, the inner and outer worlds, and the upper and lower realms. It seems to occupy a space beyond our perception, beyond death, existing in the spirit world and the natural world at the same time.
I was thoroughly enjoying When The Drummers Were Women, and then realized who has written it! Layne Redmond is a highly accomplished drummer and musical colleague of one of my favorite frame drummers, Glen Valez. I came upon Glen Valez’s work, a four-time Grammy Award Winner, when it was recommended to me by the principal percussionist with the Detroit Symphony and founding member of New Music Detroit. From the first moments I started listening, it was a though I was moving into a trance-like state. I am not one to fall for all the new age stuff, as most of it is not credible. But this music moved me on a deep level. I could not explain why at the time, but I have recommended the CD Rhythms Of The Chakras by Glen Valez to many friends looking for music to support their meditation and yoga practice.
Here is a summary of When Women Where The Drummers from Amazon:
For millennia, the sacred drummers of the pre-Christian Mediterranean and western Asia were women. In this inspiring book, Layne Redmond, herself a renowned drummer, tells their history.
Artistic representations reveal that female frame drummer carried the spiritual traditions of many of the earliest recorded civilizations. During those ancient times, the drummer-priestesses held the keys to experience the divine through rhythm. They were at the center of the goddess worship of matriarchal societies until the ascendance of patriarchal cultures and the loss of drumming as a spiritual technology. With wisdom and passion, Redmond chronicles our species’ deep connection to the drum, our rich heritage of inseparable spirituality and music, and the modern-day women reclaiming it.
This book encourages readers—both women and men—to reestablish rhythmic links with themselves, nature, and other people through the power of drumming. Redmond illustrates her message with an extensive collection of images gathered during ten years of research and travel. Woven throughout the book are strands of ancient ritual and mythology, personal stories, and scientific evidence of the benefits of drumming. It is at once a history, a memoir, and a resounding call for spiritual and social renewal.
You can pick up your own frame drum and play along with music and try it out for yourself! I recommend the Remo HD-8514-00 Fiberskyn Frame Drum, 14" on Amazon for $18.95.