Drum Drum
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Drum Drum


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The best kept secret in music


"Global Beats Pres. Drum Drum @ The Studio, Sydney (08/03/05)"

On Tuesday night this week at The Studio within the Sydney Opera House, as part of the Global Beats performances, an extremely diverse group of people, in both age and disposition, were witness to a profusely assorted group of musicians and dancers who went by the name of Drum Drum, based out of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory .

‘Drum drum’ is reputed to be the English translation of a village that lies on the South Eastern coast of Papua New Guinea called ‘Gaba Gaba’. Although drums weren’t the only instrument played by the group, they were definitely the focus for the groups hour and a half on stage. The secondary focus was traditional Papua New Guinea and Pacific Island dancing that visually complemented the layered aural spectrum they created.

Before the group took to the instrument littered stage the audience were visually investigative as to the types of drums they were using (ten types of customary island drums of varied shapes and sizes were present) and how they were going to perform with them. When the lone Papua New Guinean graced the stage under atmospheric lights to begin the show, playing a solitary timber whistle-type instrument and dressed in traditional ceremonial dress and face paint he was soon joined by an Australian member of the group, also wearing floral fabric, at the hollowed and carved timber drums to one end of the stage. This began the audience’s discovery process.

For this first piece the two on stage began to call and respond to each other using wooden sticks to strike the hollowed timber drums in the different places on them that held different resonance. They would alternate their call and response patterns with parallel tapping creating fantastical layered rhythms.

For the next piece more members came to the stage, the women in swinging grass skirts and floral fabrics, the men in also in skirts and spouting feather head pieces. A modern drum kit was graced by one of these new members and he laid the foundations for a percussive storm where other new members on stage once again responded and synchronised on their traditional wooden drums to his lightning fast grounding. They demonstrated exemplary percussive talent here in a mesmerising tribal Papua New Guinean style, combining their accents and mastery syncopation with crescendos and moderations in volume and pace.

This piece the modern drum kit member switched over to the keyboards and introduced the band and the concept, which was to convergence the talents and styles of their Papua New Guinean, Australian and Pacific Island members. Equally impressive was the fact that his two band mates who had previously been tapping on the wooden drums at the front of stage then took to the bass guitar and modern drum kit and the full group of twelve launched into a sweet traditional lullaby with melodies and harmonies sung in native tongue by the female members of the group.

For the next hour they seized the audience with music influenced from Papua New Guinea, to Tahiti, to the Northern Territory, to Jamaica, and then back around full circle. Playing pieces as a full band incorporating those said styles and encouraging the audience to break from their seats and join them in some dancing on the cosy space next to the stage.

Of a humorous note was the mime act that one of the Papua New Guinean members performed to the synchronised skin drumming played by the leader of the group. He seemed to be fishing, but while awaiting for a bite on his line he mimed an urge to defecate which he played with precariously comical detail.

For the second last song before the encore they encouraged both men and women of the audience to join them in learning some traditional dancing that included hip shaking and lunging of a truly exotic nature. An elder female joined them on stage with a small unfazed baby in her arms, and two more children who I assumed belonged to members of the group also participated. It became an enchanting and friendly family affair for both artists and audience. For their last song before the encore they once again encouraged free dancing from those willing participants in the audience and after grand rapture they returned for the encore with a last haunting reminder of their diversity thanks to a minimal traditional chanting song sung by the lead female vocalist accompanied by the keyboardist.

If you missed this performance make sure you broaden your musical horizons as your writer did and get yourself to the next show they perform in town, whenever that may be. It will, as Tuesday night showed, be a truly memorable cultural and musical experience - in the mix magazine

"Drum Drum reveals rhythm nations of the South Pacific"

rum Drum, a contemporary music group based in Darwin, Australia, gave new meaning to the expression "rhythm nation" when it performed music and dances from Papua New Guinea Friday at the Lied Center. Papua New Guinea, a country north of Australia, has some 800 languages and 3,000 dialects, and Drum Drum performed an equally diverse repertoire of explosive percussion, with beats representative of the Melanesian and Polynesian cultures throughout the South Pacific region.

The concert began subtly, with each performer entering the stage one by one singing and dancing in a line, but gradually increased in intensity as various band members found their instruments and pounded out complex, building rhythms in perfect synchronicity. A changing wardrobe of traditional clothing, such as colorful grass skirts and hip and leg adornments, and whirling, shuffling dances enhanced the experience of listening to the endless variety of beats.

The youngest dancer -- a tiny girl who looked like she was maybe 6 years old, possibly the daughter of one of the performers -- kept the audience amused with her precise, little shimmies and hip thrusts, and unwavering confidence on stage. Her presence also added to the deeply instilled sense of community inherent in the drumming, dancing and singing of Papua New Guinea.

The idea of telling stories through drumming was another important part of Drum Drum's performance. Markham Galut's rendition of a kangaroo and a hunter at odds with one another in a rain forest was delightful; he switched back and forth between the two characters with funny facial expressions, jumps and quick hand movements, and was a favorite among the children in the audience.

The group also got laughs when it showed how, in Papua New Guinea, percussion was capable of expressing just about anything, from teapots to language barriers between native New Guineans and the Japanese who came into the area during World War II.

"A long time ago, somebody had a really nice cup of tea and was inspired to write this piece," one of the performers said before pounding out a playful patter of beats.

Although the spirit of the concert was undeniably collective, it was hard not to wish Drum Drum would stop at some point and introduce all the members of the group, as each person was so talented. Problems with the microphones also sometimes made it difficult to hear what performers were saying when they did provide context.

Nonetheless, it was an amazing show that brought the vibrance and warmth of Papua New Guinea's numerous cultures out in full force, and really conveyed how physical the joy of sound can be, whether it's blowing through a conch shell, leaping and dancing to thundering percussion, or telling stories with log drums.

After hearing Drum Drum, it's no surprise that many villages in Papua New Guinea have drumming parties that last several days and nights. Rhythms really bring people together, yet help them tell their own unique stories, and as Drum Drum made it clear on Friday night, those stories are endless.
- By Becca Ramspott - Special to the Journal-World Sunday, April 3, 2005


Lahia Gabua - Drum Drum
Drum Drum - Drum Drum


Feeling a bit camera shy


There’s a little village on the south coast of Papua New Guinea called Gaba Gaba, which in English means ‘drum drum’. It’s there that Tau and Airileke Ingram, Drum Drum’s lead singer and musical director respectively, have their roots.

After relocating to Darwin in the far north of Australia, Tau and Airileke developed the band they founded and named after their ancestral village home, into one of the most entrancing and entertaining musical prospects in the South Pacific.

“Drum Drum’s contemporary music ranges from hypnotic and invigorating rhythms of the log drums to a funky dance fusion, where ancient traditional instruments and chants are reborn with an influence of Funk, Ska, and Soul.”(ABC Radio National)

Their aim was to create an uniquely original blend of many of the music and dance traditions of their homeland; bird dances and kundu drumming from Morobe, rain dances and chants from Gaba Gaba, log drumming or garamut from the Manus Islands and fertility dances from the Triobrian Islands. They deliver this repertoire with fiery energy, decked out in traditional costumes and dazzling body paint.

“A vibrant, energetic celebration of culture….. a joyful journey through the cultures of the Pacific.” (The Australian)

The band devote much of their time to community and educational work, which has taken them to the far reaches of the Australian outback, especially the Aboriginal homelands of the Northern Territory, and to the USA. The media have already called Drum Drum the biggest thing to come out of northern Australia since
Yothu Yindi.

“Drum Drum may be the biggest thing to emerge out of the Northern Territory since Yothu Yindi…...both funky and hauntingly beautiful at the same time.” (Low down Magazine)

Having recently signed with a US agent, SRO Artists, Drum recently toured the States in February 2005. This year will also see Drum Drum tour througout WA as well as performances around the country before heading back to the USA for their fifth tour in early 2006.

“ explosive energy. ” (Drum Media)