Atelier Algæm manufacturing, technical sheet.
Traditional Algæm-made shamanic drums do not require special maintenance, but rather certain small precautions or rules of use, to have a better sound and conservation.
1. Oil protection
Was done at the end of the workshop and possibly redo every 2 years.
Once the skin of the drum has dried well a few weeks from manufacturing, the drum will need to be fully treated with an olive oil treatment. The whitewash is done with refusal, that is to say until saturation, as much on the wood of the circle as on the skin. This oil will keep the skin supple, nourish the wood of the circle, as well as preserve the leather and the whole from drying out. It is also a screen against humidity.
After this full whitewash and a certain penetration time of 24 hours, the excess oil will be gently wiped off with a clean cloth.
The oily aspect of the drum will be dissipated fairly quickly, allow around 3 days to regain comfortable use of the drum.
This treatment may possibly be restarted if the skin appears dry after a few years.
2. Hygrometric variation and skin tensions
The skin of the drum is a natural and living material, the variations in the humidity of the air linked to the climate and the environment directly impact the tension of the drum, by expansion in wet weather, and on the contrary by tightening linked to the dryness of the ambient air. This voltage variation directly impacts the frequency of the sound,
– More serious when relaxed by humidity.
– more acute and flashy when the skin is more stretched by the dry air.
In extreme humidity with completely relaxed and soggy skin the drum can become unusable, this can happen especially for rituals or concerts outdoors.
Conversely, a top dry environment will give a flashy sound without depth.
2.1 Adjust the skin for playing
2.1.1 Retighten the skin
The only way to get a good sound back is to dry the skin of the drum with a heat source. To this end the sun is king. Then we better understand the essential presence of a fire that we often find at drum circle meetings or various festival concerts and outdoor rituals.
If sun or fire does not exist, for example in a concert hall or indoors, any heat source can be used, even above a flame from a gas stove burner.
< ! > Be careful to always keep the drum at a good distance from the heat source so as not to burn it. The heat perceived by your hands holding the drum will be the best indicator to moderate heat exposure.
2.1.2 Relax it
To relax excessively dry skin, it suffices to moisten the skin with water evenly over the entire external surface of the drum skin.
The manipulations of “regulation” of the tension and the sound, either by water or by fire are moreover frequently ritualized, in opening of shamanic circle or in certain Mongolian or Amerindian musical representations.
3. Where to place my drum
Generally the drums are stored in their protect cover bag, it will be rainproof if possible.
Outdoors, this cover will allow the drum to not be subjected to variations due to humidity or drought, so it will always be ready to play properly. Avoid placing your drum for too long under a blazing sun and especially never forget it in a car overheated by the sun.
Often, for matters of ornament, or to experience the drum fully, as a companion or spiritual support, the drums are displayed without any protection, placed somewhere or hung on a wall. The rule will then be, as for all acoustic wooden instruments, not to place it
– in a room or against a damp wall,
– neither in a place that is too sunny,
– or too dry or near a strong source of heat.
4. How to play
The drum can be played with a padded mallet, or for finer sounds with the hands and fingers.
It is not normally played with a wooden stick or any other object that could scratch the skin.
Also note that certain ways of playing can generate sounds:
– or on the contrary beneficial,
– or influence your heart rate or breathing
For example by typing too hard in the center of the drum. It’s up to you to modulate the vibrations according to the places on the surface of the skin where you play.
5. Insect protection
Some insects such as the so-called “museum” moths, such as the nymphs of the Anthren moth and especially the Anthrenus Verbasci (Trogoderma Variabile) which are real carnivores liable to attack your drum in certain seasons. Some of these insects wreak havoc in ethnological museums, devouring everything organic, and particularly of animal origin such as parchment books, etc.
Fortunately my drums are usually made of a cedarwood hoop. However, cedar has the great advantage of repelling these insects. If, however, your drum is affected, the most effective solution will be to use a few drops of cedarwood essential oil.
A few drops sprayed either on the fur of your drum (if it has any), or on the wooden hoop inside it. Be careful, however, not to overdo it so as not to stain the skin on the drum’s use surface. Another commonly used solution is to use one or two cedar wood rings, which have received a few drops of this oil and placed somewhere on the fur or wood of the drum.
6. My drum makes a cracking noise, Spirit Wood
It sometimes happens but quite rarely, generally with variations in temperature or humidity, that a sharp cracking noise from the drum. Or sometimes even for no apparent reason.
Apart from the manifestation of the Spirit that you have breathed into your drum, the drums of the Algæm workshop are made exclusively with Natural materials, these are by nature sensitive to various variations, and remain alive in a certain way.
7. Other questions
In case of doubt or for other questions, or for a repair in return to Algaem workshop, do not hesitate to contact me.