Why build your own instrument?

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What makes building your own instrument so special?

making native american flute
Native American style flutes in the process of being rounded.

First of all, there may be nothing more empowering, spiritual, and sacred than building your own instrument. Not only do you get to choose the instrument being built, or the decorative aspects of each instrument made, but you get to birth a new being into this plane of existence. Many indigenous cultures highly regard the instrument maker, not only for their skills to create great sounding and looking works of art, but also for their midwifery skills at laboring each instrument into a life of it’s own.


shekere being made with weaving and beads
Shekere being beaded on local gourd with glass

Sacred

The sacredness of birthing a new drum, flute, rattle, or any other indigenous instrument goes beyond the physical act of building it. Most cultures have a spiritual belief that all of these instruments can be used not only for music, but also for ceremony, to help communicate with the spirit world, and for spiritual growth or meditation.

These sacred tools, or instruments, are viewed as beings in and of themselves, their own living spirits are woken upon finalizing the instrument and with certain ceremonies, each ceremony varies depending on the culture in question. Across the globe this basic perspective can be found in many ancient cultures. Many of our facilitators view this in the highest regard, honoring the instruments made in workshops.


Spiritual

While the physical act of creating your instrument is very beautiful, the spiritual aspect of birthing your own sacred tool is beyond measurable. These items become honored friends to their makers, they become heirlooms passed down generations, they are powerful and respected among the ones gifted with their presence. Many people in our western culture see these instruments as nothing more than another part of their collection, another toy to play with, another material object to own. But within the animistic and shamanistic reality of many tribal cultures, or indigenous cultures, the powerful force of each sacred instrument is considered a trusted friend, devoted ally, healing tool, or powerful spirit.

The spiritual aspects of each workshop varies depending on the guide or facilitator. These creation ceremonies can be inspired by various cultures, usually related to the origin culture of the instrument you’re making. Some of our facilitators have cross-cultural perspectives where they integrate multiple cultural perspectives. None of the workshops we host are “stealing” culture, or are cultural appropriation, though all are inspired by many cultures and holistically create one of a kind traditions manifested by the workshop guide, and unique to each workshop. Our facilitators not only view their chosen instruments as artistic creations, but also as sacred objects; used as tools to build community, heal wounds, create unique experiences, and guide their owners on their spiritual journey in this physical realm.


kennedy oneself making didgeridooo
Kennedy Oneself of Soul Medicine Vibrations, burning the center out of agave stalks to make a didgeridoo.

Empowering

“Building my own didgeridoo, outside, barefoot, with fire and metal, was the most empowering experience of my life”

Amy Jill Hargis, Owner of The Wellness Place in Highlands, NC

Creating anything can be very empowering. Artists around the world know this very well. Though few people experience such a powerful accomplishment. Birthing your own instrument; whether that be a drum, flute, didgeridoo, or any other instrument, can be one of the most memorable actions of your life. The process of slowly manifesting your instrument, learning about it’s history and cultural uses, honing it’s aesthetic appearance and playing ability, tuning it, and the playing it for the first time is compelling. The effects of this ceremony, unique depending on each facilitator, can be a life changing experience. Very few leave one of our workshops without considering it one of the most memorable of their life.

Our facilitators are highly skilled at their crafts, and take great pride in their work and how they share the instrument building workshop they lead. Each instruments creation process varies, as well as each facilitators methods and tools. One of the facilitators that Archaic Roots has hosted is Kennedy Oneself of Soul Medicine Vibrations. His agave didgeridoo building workshop utilizes fire and hot steel to clear the interior of each agave stalk. This act of being in nature and using fire to create a didgeridoo is very powerful to take part in.

Every instrument making workshop hosted at Archaic Roots offers unique perspective of creation from the every facilitator. Some of the workshops are guided by outside artisans, others are lead by William Rodriguez, the visionary behind Archaic Roots. Whether your creating drums, flutes, or any other indigenous instrument, you will not be disappointed in your experience.


Make memories while making instruments

djembe build
Liam Smith, owner of LACs Organic LLC, pulling rope on his djembe.

Since we’ve covered the not so obvious examples of why you should build your own instrument, here’s the best reason of all, the memories. Yes, the memories made while envisioning, then manifesting and birthing your own instrument are some of the best in life to make. Being lead in the process of shaping or skinning, roping or tuning, decorating and completing your own instrument is incredible. The experience of hearing your new instruments first voice after being made is as refreshing and inspiring as being bathed the sounds of falling water for the first time. There are no words to really describe the process honestly, that is one only those who’ve built their own instrument can embrace.

Whether your thinking of making your own instrument to learn more about culture, to create a ceremonial tool, or just to make your own instrument to play; you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend experiencing this act of creation for yourself. There is nothing more I enjoy, than building my own instrument! Each time I play it, I am reminded of the memories made during each unique process, the skills involved and learned for each, and the medicine of each experience.

“The process of creating instruments is comparable to making poetry for the mind, body and soul”.

William A. Rodriguez- Owner of Archaic Roots

 

 

 

 

Follow William Rodriguez:

Indigenous Instrument Maker and Educator

2 Responses

  1. Lee Prestridge

    We are considering renting the dome for a few nights. What would you charge to have a drum circle with my family while there? There will be six of us and we do not have instruments but I think it would be a great experience for us all. Thanks!

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