SIBERIAN SHAMANS: The Drum

This week, we’ve been focusing on the traditions and lore of Siberian shamans. These holy men and women played the roles of healer and oracle for the pre-Christian societies of eastern Russia, to the accompaniment of chanting and drumming. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

“The drum was perhaps the key to the shaman’s performance.”

Anthropologist Thomas Ross Miller:

“The drum was considered to be the steed on which the shaman rode to the other world, and in fact, often times, the shaman would actually place the drum between their legs as if it were a horse or a reindeer, and ride it to the other world.”

ambience: shaman chanting

“By playing at a particular pitch and tempo, vibrations were created which could forge a link between one world and the other. The patterns of drumming and singing opened up a sonic window between this world and the others, and through this window, the spirits could enter and communicate with the shaman and thereby with the humans.”

ambience: shaman chanting

“The tuning of the drum was of the utmost importance in order to carry out a properly effective ceremony. The Chukchi shaman always performed their ceremonies in a small room. In this room, the sound would reverberate off the walls and create echoes and ventriloquistic effects. These would literally disembody the voice of the spirits from the shaman, and then they would use the frame of the drum to deflect these sounds further, disorienting the listeners, and heightening the altered state of consciousness of all of those participants present.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.

SIBERIAN SHAMANS: The Drum

Shamans would place a drum between their legs, and ride it to the spirit world.
Air Date:03/20/1998
Scientist:
Transcript:

This week, we've been focusing on the traditions and lore of Siberian shamans. These holy men and women played the roles of healer and oracle for the pre-Christian societies of eastern Russia, to the accompaniment of chanting and drumming. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

"The drum was perhaps the key to the shaman's performance."

Anthropologist Thomas Ross Miller:

"The drum was considered to be the steed on which the shaman rode to the other world, and in fact, often times, the shaman would actually place the drum between their legs as if it were a horse or a reindeer, and ride it to the other world."

ambience: shaman chanting

"By playing at a particular pitch and tempo, vibrations were created which could forge a link between one world and the other. The patterns of drumming and singing opened up a sonic window between this world and the others, and through this window, the spirits could enter and communicate with the shaman and thereby with the humans."

ambience: shaman chanting

"The tuning of the drum was of the utmost importance in order to carry out a properly effective ceremony. The Chukchi shaman always performed their ceremonies in a small room. In this room, the sound would reverberate off the walls and create echoes and ventriloquistic effects. These would literally disembody the voice of the spirits from the shaman, and then they would use the frame of the drum to deflect these sounds further, disorienting the listeners, and heightening the altered state of consciousness of all of those participants present."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.