Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I have goat skin envy

My drum teacher has a big collection of djembes from his country, Mali. They weigh a ton. On Monday I helped him carry a couple of them from his car. They are made out of an African hardwood that probably has no name in English. And the skins are spotted like the goats they came from. And though they have been shaved on the part you play, the hair is left on the rims. And they stink. At least one of the ones I was carrying did. It smelled just like, well, a goat. Which made me laugh because I grew up with goats and love the earthy, musty, dung-ish goat smell. Much stronger than a sheep. Or cow. Or horse.

My djembe has a goat skin, too, but it is antiseptically clean and processed so it can sit in a music store and not stink up the joint. Of course, my brother's dog recognizes it for what it is and still licks it if she gets a chance. (She seems to think it is a fancy rawhide.)

My teacher, Sidy, sells his drums. I have decided that if I take lessons for a whole year, I will buy one to celebrate. I will test them out. Examine the wood to make sure it's not cracked. Look for bug bites in the hide. Pick one up to see if I can carry it. Test the bass and the tone and the slap. And then pick out the stinkiest one I can find.

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