Drum circles are a common community gathering everywhere and our good old Pune is definitely not going to let itself be an exception! They are a great medium of bringing people together and act as great stress busters. Taal Inc., a Pune-based community organization, is the only example conducting drum circles in our city today.
Founded in 2004 by Varun Venkit, Taal Inc. describes itself as, “An extension of you, and a celebration of your connection with your inner rhythm.” It provides unique services for a vast clientele and are responded with smiles all over the place. They are currently conducting drum circles at Centre for Development Studies and Activities (CDSA), Pune and I had the opportunity to attend one of their sessions. Open for all, the rhythmic folks at Taal Inc. conduct one hour sessions free of charge. Being a Tabla player in my childhood days, I was super psyched to attend this event. The hidden and beautiful campus of CDSA surprised me and I was convinced by the end of the session that it is the perfect setting for a drum circle. A calm, serene and breezy session at a locality that is just a stone’s throw away from the city, how the hour passed by is something I still can’t figure out.
Greeted by the students and volunteers of Taal Inc., the assembly hall had chairs with a Djembe, along with a few allied musical instruments . A djembe is a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa. At first glance, I thought that this would be an introduction to what Taal Inc. does and how the concept was born with very less playtime. Varun Venkit introduced the batch of 20-odd enthusiasts to Shankar Mridha who conducted our batch. He started by asking a simple question of who knew drums and rhythm, and the next thing we knew, he was guiding us through the process of holding a Djembe properly and how to play it. Once set, he asked us to follow his lead and we started playing along him.
The whole hall woke up to the sound of first time Djembe players playing melodically and in sync with Shankar Sir guiding us through beats and rhythm while also integrating the use of other instruments provided to us. All communication while we were playing was with hand gestures by Shankar Sir. He formed two groups among us, played with the frequency with which we played and instructed us to use the other instruments provided.
“This was a unique experience. I am into music since the past 4-5 years but have always shied away from percussion instruments. Turned out, playing djembe wasn’t that hard. This was a brilliant initiative and I would definitely like to be a part of such an ensemble again”, said Rohan Khadilkar, a musical zealot. All in all, it was a wonderful experience! Shankar Sir concluded it by asking us how the experience was and all one could hear were comments like “Brilliant”, “Energetic”, “Amazing”, and “Stress Buster”! Taal Inc. will continue with such drum circle sessions for the nex few days.
Pic courtesy: southfloridafinds.com, drumbus.com