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Published: 27 April 2016

By Andy Ross

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The Drum Song

We were very lucky to be given a private demonstration of drum singing, sometimes called drum dancing, a traditional music from Greenland on our journey. 

The performer, Anda, told us stories and sang, and in the sound of his lone voice and the incessant beat of the drum, we could hear the loneliness of the Arctic wide spaces and the bleakness of the landscape. Perhaps that is too fanciful, but sitting in the museum in Tasiilaq, surrounded by ice and snow, with the ravens flying overhead, and towering mountains surrounding us, the imagination certainly took flight!

This extract is a part of a story about a crow who falls in love with a goose. The goose flock get ready to migrate and the crow tells them that he would like to migrate too but cannot because it is too far and across water; Crow cannot swim. Perhaps the geese will make a raft with their bodies whenever they land on the water and Crow can land on their backs? As the song progresses the stick Anda uses to beat the rhythm on his drum is positioned further and further up his body, indicating the level of water as the geese sink lower in the water in their attempts to get rid of the pesky crow. Finally Crow drowns. I don't know what the moral of that particular story is, or even if it has one, but it was very entertaining.