Sep 052008

because I sold my congas yesterday.

I didn’t quite know whether to sell them or not. At the beginning of 2007 we were a bit short on money and space, and I started to sell old books and stuff. And decided that it might be a good idea to find a new home for my congas. Only I never put them up for sale anywhere. Because of the blog post though I got e-mails from people who were interested in them. Only, this never let anywhere. So I resigned myself on keeping them, I love them very much even if they were mostly serving me as a very pretty keyboard stand.

But then I got another e-mail a few months ago from somebody who was interested in them, and yesterday they went away. It feels a bit weird but very good at the same time.

These congas were the only excellent musical instruments I ever bought for myself. I started drumming quite late, when I was almost 20. I had tried a bit in school and was fascinated by African music, and then I went away to Munich to study. There I met a guy who was learning how to play Brazilian music who later became my boyfriend. He was very surprised when I enrolled in the same school as him because to him I was “classical piano” girl. I have never been a good pianist though. In that school congas were our main instruments. We also learned how to play all the smaller percussion instruments that are used in Brazilian music but mostly it was congas. When a bit later I decided to switch my major to music education I had to choose a main musical instrument, and I just went for it and chose drumming. Which, in a way was very funny, because I only had been playing for about a year. Strangely enough it all turned out okay. There were only very few drummers there, and fortunately the professors had no way of telling how easy or difficult anything was that I played for exams, and so I earned my degree by dazzling them with music that looked harder to play than it was. Also, I switched my main instrument to voice, and I even threw in a bit of recorder playing at the exam. At that time the whole institute wasn’t as structured as it became later.

One problem with drumming is that you need quite a bit of equipment. I was very poor at that time, and so I always played instruments borrowed from my boyfriend, or the drum set in university. All that time I longed to have my own drum set, marimbaphone, congas, and surdo.

The summer I bought the congas I had worked for two months in order to buy a computer. I didn’t have one at that time, and it became apparent that I’d need one for doing papers and such. Then a drummer friend visited me and said, “What do you think, which are the best congas?” I immediately answered, “Michel Delaporte”. Those were the ones my conga teacher played and I loved their look, feel and sound. They were ideal for what I loved to play, though they are no good when you’re playing in something like a salsa band because their sound isn’t sharp and penetrating enough for that. I took my friend to the drum store and showed him some congas. He tried them and was disappointed. He played Cuban music which requires a different conga sound. He hated them but I fell in love.

A day later I went into the shop with my computer money and bought the congas he had tested. Without ever having played them myself.

I had just moved to a new apartment. I set up the congas and started to play. I was very happy. I had the best congas in the world. Ten minutes later a neighbor banged on my door. “What are you doing in there? Stop that noise!” She was very angry. Imagine somebody playing very deep, rich, resonating, booming drums in a building where you can here your neighbors sneeze through the walls.

So, since I didn’t have a room to practice in, that basically was it. I didn’t play them much for years. I bought them in 1990, and the first time they saw real action was when my husband and I started a Brazilian band together in 1998. We had that band for about two years before we gave up looking for places to play. There is a demo CD of that band but I think that most of the drumming on that CD was done by my husband since he’s much more precise than me.

You can hear the congas on some of my husband’s recordings. When I told him that they were sold he realized that he had used them much more than me for the last years. Though not enough to justify having them around all the time. (That was the point were I almost canceled the sale at the last minute.)

Yesterday when I helped load them into a car I was not sad as I had thought. I was relieved. For all the years that those congas had stood in my room they had called to me, “Play me! Play me! Play me!”, and I never had. And when I had tried, it sounded horrible. Not playing will do that to your technique.

I’m very happy that they have found a new home, and I hope they will be loved and played there.

Do you know what I did with the money? I ordered a spinning wheel. I know, crazy. We’ll see how that goes.

(Also, I’d like to remind you to send me any posts about social justice that you read or wrote in August until September 7th for the Just Posts. My e-mail is: creativemother AT web DOT de)

  3 Responses to “I’m officially not a drummer anymore”

  1. I might follow your example. I have a set of drums that make me feel guilty every time i walk past them.

  2. look at you! Releasing things. I think it’s great. I’m betting you’ll use the spinning wheel.

  3. wow. i’d love to have some drums. you know, just to bang on every now and then.

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