Drums and Dance

Inuit Drum Dance

The Inuit drum is a traditional instrument seen across the north.  Drumming was primarily done by men in most communities but not always the case. Drumming was performed at various celebrations, whether it was celebrating the first successful hunt of a young boy or the birth of a child. Drumming was banned by religious figures and government and was seen to be unholy or represented a danger to the philosophies to the church.  In modern day Inuit can proudly be seen and heard celebrating an event or their culture once again. There are many young Inuit children who are more than happy to learn this great art form and help to continue proudly celebrating a rich culture.   Inuit drums were traditionally made from caribou skin stretched over driftwood which was softened and made into a ring.  The drum has a handle which protrudes downward to hold and rotate the drum. The handle was often covered in fur such as seal skin. The Inuit drum is played differently than most drums in that it is not the skin which is struck but rather the rim of the drum.

Drumming is often accompanied by dancing such as the polar bear style, in which the drum held low and the drummer dances around mimicking a polar bear while playing.  Drumming is also the thing that sets the pace for songs often enough. The drum can be heard accompanying certain kinds of songs appropriately called “ayaya”. To get a better understanding of all of this you can watch our accompanying video podcast on Inuit drumming and also see and hear an ayaya song. The videos are available through the video podcast menu or simply click here.