Udu Drum Workshops
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About the "Udu Drum"

I discovered the Udu Drum while living in Montreal, shortly after arriving in Canada as a young man from Iran. The first time I heard the drum, the rhythms were simple and compelling, old and familiar. The sound: full, watery and timeless. An African man sitting in a park was playing a round gourd-shape clay drum, cradled against his stomach, and the distinct tonal qualities of the sounds, coupled with the beauty of the instrument, imprinted in my soul then and there.
It was nine years later, after leaving my job as a computer technician and searching for a new direction in my life, that I was re-introduced to the Udu. I had found clay as a medium for personal creativity and was taking courses in hand building at the Laurrie Community School in Montreal. One night at a party, a friend of a friend brought out an Udu and began to play. This chance encounter ignited my desire to make one of these ancient instruments for myself.

Some of my first forays into ceramics were an attempt to recreate the shape and sound of that drum. It took me many tries, but I finally achieved the effect I was after. I respect the origins of this centuries old instrument and have to admit that honouring the original shape and beauty of the instrument and improving the sound quality of my drums has been my strongest passion throughout my artistic journey with clay.

Udu Drums possess distinct tonal qualities which range from subtle bass to soothing tabla-like tones. Their clay construction is based upon centuries old African traditions of coiling, burnishing and wood-firing. The name “Udu” is derived from the Nigerian Ibo language, meaning pottery.

Each Udu, depending on the size of the chamber, offers individual tonal values. It can be played by hitting the side and top hole, or any part of the drum, with the palm of the hand or fingertips. Small mikes can be mounted for amplification and to capture the wondrous internal sounds. Udu Drums are generally played in a seated position on a chair or on the floor, with the drum on the player’s lap. They can also be played on a table top or the floor using a soft cushion or pillow.

I have been giving clay workshops on hand building, burnishing and sawdust firing since 1999 in Canada and New Zealand. Frequently people who take my workshops use the opportunity to create their very own Udu Drum. Here on Hornby Island, B.C. these workshops happen in the spring and fall seasons.

For details on upcoming workshops being offered, go to the “Upcoming Workshops and Events” page.