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The tribal beat calls to you, and you move toward it – through the bing cherries, past the asiago and parmesan cheese spread and by Carol selling her fragrant herbs. You can see people hesitant, at first, to merge into the circle. But as they pick up the different percussion instruments, one calls out to them. They begin to pound out a simple beat that together with the other drummers makes polyrhythmic music.Local percussionist Marc Trevino – with the help of Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival supplying the instruments – leads a drum circle July 17, July 31 and Aug. 14 at the Minturn Market from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
A drum circle is a group of people gathered round for the purpose of making music. It can be as simple as three friends in a living room, or as involved as a hundred professional percussionists jamming on a stage.”Drum circles can be used as therapy for working out your issues,” said Susan Warnosk a participant in Saturday’s circle at the market. She and her two small girls were drumming along.”Circles are for bringing people together. You use the drum as your voice in the community of other drummers.”Traditional African rhythm circles are very specific. Each drummer is responsible to maintain a certain part or beat. Each part meshes together to form an intentional polyrhythm that communicates something special for that village or tribe, like a good harvest or a right of passage for a young man. The rhythm created even has a name.
“The very traditional rhythms are passed on by sound, not by notation,” Trevino said. “The type of rhythm depends on where you originated from.”The traditional circles also use different beats as a call to inform the other drummers when to switch rhythms or when to take a solo.The purpose of the drumming circle at the Minturn Market is to get kids and adults acquainted with percussion instruments from around the world. Trevino starts the group off with a simple beat and then slowly changes it up for those who can to follow.”For many of the children here, it is their first chance to bang away on a drum,” Trevino said.
Trevino has made a poster identifying the different percussion instruments. Each has its unique sound and purpose. The Djun Djun (pronounced joonjoon or dundun) is a double headed bass drum. It is often used with a bell and forms the foundation of the drum circle.”I hope that the drum circle would be educational for people, too,” Trevino said.Trevino has sat in on many drumming circles. In college at California State University in Northridge, Calif., where he studied music, Trevino and his buddies would sit around an old-fashioned popcorn popper and mimic its sound with the instruments. As the oil would start sizzling, one of them shook a Shekere (pronounced she-ke-ray), a gourd covered with woven, beaded webbing. Then, the kernels would begin to combust and Trevino’s circle did its best to copy the energy of the pops.”Whatever sound came out of the machine we would copy,” Trevino said. “We would even wear protective glasses.”