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Tying Up A Peyote Water Drum

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Materials Required:

  • #6 or #7 3-legged kettle without bail lugs (“ears”)
  • Drum hide: circular, cut 7″-8″ larger in diameter than the kettle rim; smoked, brain tanned buckskin is preferred, though commercial, double-sueded hide may be substituted. (German tan smoked hide is the best commercial hide for this.) The brain tanned hide may be of elk, deer or moose. To cut the hide, place it on the ground and place the kettle over it. Draw a circle on the hide about 3 1/2″ – 4″ out from the edge of the kettle, resulting in a hide that’s 7″-8″ larger in diameter than the kettle itself. Cut the hide using very sharp scissors. (Note: After tying and using the drum a few times, you may find that the hide has stretched so that the rocks are too low. It is okay to then cut the head to a smaller diameter.)
  • 7 large marbles or round rocks, all of even size
  • 30′ rope – 1/8″ – 3/8″, either nylon or sisal (1/8″ is preferred)
  • Antler tine: elk or large deer, approx. 6″ long; substitute 3/8″-1/2″ diameter hardwood dowel shaped to a dull point on one end.
  • Peyote drumstick made of hardwood such as ebony, rosewood, bois d’arc, cocobola, etc.

Viewing the following video will help with understanding the written steps. Just watch the entire video through to get the concept of what you are doing with the marbles (or rocks) and the rope as it is woven about to create a fine sounding Peyote Water Drum.

Materials Required:

  • #6 or #7 3-legged kettle without bail lugs (“ears”)
  • Drum hide: circular, cut 7″-8″ larger in diameter than the kettle rim; smoked, brain tanned buckskin is preferred, though commercial, double-sueded hide may be substituted. (German tan smoked hide is the best commercial hide for this.) The brain tanned hide may be of elk, deer or moose. To cut the hide, place it on the ground and place the kettle over it. Draw a circle on the hide about 3 1/2″ – 4″ out from the edge of the kettle, resulting in a hide that’s 7″-8″ larger in diameter than the kettle itself. Cut the hide using very sharp scissors. (Note: After tying and using the drum a few times, you may find that the hide has stretched so that the rocks are too low. It is okay to then cut the head to a smaller diameter.)
  • 7 large marbles or round rocks, all of even size
  • 30′ rope – 1/8″ – 3/8″, either nylon or sisal (1/8″ is preferred)
  • Antler tine: elk or large deer, approx. 6″ long; substitute 3/8″-1/2″ diameter hardwood dowel shaped to a dull point on one end.
  • Peyote drumstick made of hardwood such as ebony, rosewood, bois d’arc, cocobola, etc.

1. After thoroughly soaking the hide, wring it out before starting to tie. Then fill the kettle 2/3 full of water if you will actually use the drum. You may wish to lightly mark the hide along the edge at 7 evenly spaced intervals before starting.

2. Tying is done while in a kneeling position on the ground or floor. With the kettle upright, center the hide over the kettle with the hair side. Note the positions of the marks on the hide. Position #1 will be directly in front of you with positions 2 through 7 proceeding counterclockwise around the drum.

3. Insert a rock/marble under the edge of the hide at Position #1 so that the rock is completely covered when the hide is pinched around the rock. About 6″-7″ from one end of the rope, make a loop around rock #1 and tie an overhand knot, and then wrap the rope around the rock a second time. As you make the knot and loop, pull the rope as tight as you can. This will prevent the rock from popping loose as the drum is being tightly tied.

The rope’s tail should point to the left with the long end of the rope to the right. The knot can face either up or down, depending on your preference, but we suggest that you learn with the knot on the top side of the rock. Make sure that the hide completely covers the rock when you are through.

4. Moving counterclockwise, continue placing and tying stones one at a time around the edge of the leather so that all 7 stones are evenly spaced. This is done by taking the rope attached to the first stone and extending it to the next stone which is tied with the same overhand knot and loop. Although this is difficult, do the best you can to keep the rope as tight as possible all the way around. Stretch the hide down over the kettle as you proceed.

5. After reaching rock #7, take the tail from rock #1 and tie the rope together using a square knot. If the rope going around the drum is not tight, undo the rocks and rope and start again. This may be necessary the first time or two you tie a drum with a new hide, as it will probably stretch.

6. Continuing with the long end of the rope, cross under the kettle to where the rope passes between rocks #3 and #4; we’ll call this short section of rope a “loop”. Take the antler tine and push it behind the loop at this spot. Insert the end of the rope behind the loop in the space next to the tine, then pull the rope as tight as possible. Many drummers use their foot to step on the rope and cinch it down as they push the drum away from themselves to tighten the rope.

7. Next, lace the rope under the kettle and come up between stones #6 & #7. Then lace between stones #2 & #3. Then lace between stones #5 & #6, then #1 & #2, then #4 , then back to the loop between #7 & #1.

8. Go behind the loop between #7 and #1 and pass the rope directly over rock #1. You’ll now continue counterclockwise and wrap the rope over and under the seven rocks, as follows: After passing the rope over rock #1, go under #2, over #3, etc. When you get back to #1, continue this sequence a second time, only this time you’ll be going under the rocks you just went over and vice versa.

9. When you reach #7 the second time, loop the rope below the square knot around the rope that is coming off of the square knot and going underneath to #3 & #4. Loop this rope as many times as needed to use up the remaining excess of the tie rope. Some drummers cut off any excess rope.

10. Drumming: Rock the kettle back and forth vigorously several times to slosh water up onto the hide. If right handed, position the drum between your knees so that the square knot is just below your left hand which is placed on the side of the drum at that point. Press on top of the drum head with your left thumb to change the pitch of the drum as you beat so that the tone corresponds pleasingly with the pitch of your peyote song. After every song, slosh water on the head. You can observe a fine spray of mist rising off of the drum head as it is beaten in time with the song.

View The Peyote Drum Product

Tying Up A Peyote Water Drum – Related Products

The following items are used in the above-article, or may provide added reference and helpful information.

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2016-12-21T23:48:55+00:00