Drumming is better than drugs. It’s official, well not completely official but according to Layne Redmond in her very interesting book titled ‘When the drummers were women’, she presents some interesting information to suggest that drumming can deliver us the same experiences as drugs.
Of course this isn’t to say that drugs are good in any shape or form, indeed we all know that they are a bad idea and have the very real potential to ruin lives (is that enough to stop angry emails coming back to me?), but it is often the case that the euphoric high that appeals so much to drug users, can actually be found much more legally and healthily in other forms and from very productive activities; such as the release of endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine as a result of exercise.
Well, just in case donning a lycra all in one number and hitting the streets isn’t your thing on a drizzly November afternoon, you’ll be relieved to know that rocking out on the drum kit yields similarly pleasing benefits.
Without delving too much into the scientific aspect here, Redmond basically explains that the brain is split into two hemispheres which work independently in some aspects, but together they control our thoughts and actions. The left brain takes care of rational and logical (i.e. boring!) things in life, whilst the right side does the creative and emotional stuff.
Generally, the two hemispheres take it in turns to lead the way, with cycles lasting between ½ an hour up to three hours. They swap between the two depending on the task at hand so as to best achieve what our carnal shell is trying to accomplish.
Whilst all this is happening, these two hemispheres are also working to a different beat by giving out different waves; alpha and beta waves. Sometimes they do give out the same waves but they are often not synchronised with each other.
So if you haven’t switched off yet through my attempt to sound scientific, here’s the important bit. Redmond tells us that sometimes the two hemispheres reach hemispheric synchronisation. This is when they both get in sync with each other and offer the same waves at the same time. Their rhythm becomes one.
This can happen as a result of meditation or when we reach a deeply creative moment in time. This can especially happen as a result of exposure to rhythmic sound. This may be seen on dance floors across the globe as people react to the beat created by a band, DJ, or producer. But being a part of the rhythmic making process enhances this further. If you are the rhythmic creator (drummer) then you may well have experienced hemispheric synchronisation before.
The result will be the loss of inhibitions, a sense of clarity, rising feelings of euphoria, a heightened level of creativity and greater mental powers. This is the state that sportsmen might call ‘in the zone’ and musicians might describe as being ‘in the groove’.
So if you’ve ever found yourself playing the drums and suddenly everything falls into place, everything is going right, you can play things that you can’t normally play, everything seems to be in slow motion, giving you time to consider each stroke with ease; then maybe, just maybe you are experiencing hemispherical synchronisation.
What’s more, rather than being illegal, damaging to your health, costing money and giving you negative after effects; drumming, when performed with good technique, actually has physical and mental benefits.
Beyond levels of euphoria, just general wellbeing and improved state of mind is one possible result of drumming. Recent research on depression sufferers aged 18-50 in Finland discovered that the participants that engaged in music therapy, such as African drumming, showed fewer symptoms of depression than those who didn’t play music. It was suggested that the act of self expression in a non-verbal way may have been very positive and therapeutic.
So say no to drugs, get on the drums, enjoy the natural high, and keep the blues away!
To see Layne Redmond’s book, visit (UK): HERE
Or (USA) HERE
Or search for it in other countries.