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Senior Katie McClain gives lecture on frame drums

By Kimberly Woods
On February 13, 2013

On Sunday, Feb. 3, Katie McClain, a student from the UTM Department of Music, gave her Senior Percussion Project Presentation, "Frame Drums: Past, Present, Future," assisted by James Fout and Jennifer Hotz in Watkins Auditorium.
This was a much different performance than the traditional recital, with a Powerpoint presentation and classroom atmosphere. It was not only a lesson in frame drums, but a lesson in other cultures of the world.

"I'm getting my BA in music rather than Music Education or Music Performance, so I had to do a project rather than a recital. Originally, I was doing the Americanization of these instruments, but I really liked learning about them in their cultures, and it [ended up being] a lot bigger project. You have to do a lot more research to find [information] because there's not a lot out there right now on frame drums. It's growing, but it's not as standard. It's not as laid out for you, but I liked it a lot more so I knew I'd work a lot harder for it," McClain said.

McClain explained to the audience that a frame drum is a drum that has a shell depth smaller than the diameter of the drumhead, and she informed the audience about the history of the frame drum by taking them on a trip around the world from USA to Brazil, the Middle East, North Africa (MENA): Persia, (Iran), Israel, and Morocco; India; Italy; and Ireland.
She also explained the mechanics of frame drums and how to play each kind. There are two types of frame drums: those with jingles located on the side of the drum and those without jingles. Both of these can be played with a stick or the hand, depending on the type.

While going through each region of study, McClain showed the various types of frame drums: tambourine, pandeiro, riq, daff, mazhar, bendir, davul, kanjira and the tamburello. To show these drums, she had two assistants, Music major and percussionist Jennifer Hotz and Music major and percussionist James Fout. Hotz performed a musical selection using the pandeiro drum, which is a drum that was developed from Brazil, and Fout performed a musical selection using the bodhran frame drum that was brought to Ireland by migrating Celts.
McClain ended her presentation by performing a musical piece with Hotz called "Traveling Distances" (written by Hotz), using a frame drum from Brazil and a frame drum from the Middle East.

This piece was McClain's favorite piece from the show.
"It's a really neat piece, because a lot of times with these frame drums, in the United States, they're played with American rhythms, not necessarily in their traditional backgrounds. So it's really neat how she, an American, has taken these different things from these different cultures and made them fit together really well," McClain said.

Overall, McClain hoped to teach people about the foundation and past traditions of frame drums.
"I'm really interested in the cultural backgrounds, and I think that a lot of times in our society, we kind of forget that. ... I think we need to go back to the traditional and at least know where [drums] came from. I just think it's fascinating to learn about these cultures, and I hope that my audience can see that and that they will enjoy that aspect of it too," McClain said beforehand.

To conclude the show, McClain thanked all who helped her along the way: her family, friends, and academic mentors.
McClain will graduate in May receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Music and a minor in Sociology, and she hopes to find a chiropractic school close to where her fiancé will be.

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