How to Create Shamanic Trance Drum Beats

Shamanic trance dance music is intended to induce a trance-like state of mind in the listener or dancer. Shamanic traditions have, for a long time, used drums and drum rhythms to achieve and enhance such a trance-like state. Constant drum rhythms, as used in shamanic trance music, have a direct effect upon the brain function and mood of the involved listener, and this can allow a shaman to reach an altered state of mind. This, in turn, can facilitate a shamanic out-of-body experience.

  • Establish a steady pulse. Like a heartbeat, trance music has a steady pulse which does not slow down or speed up. Play the drum (with your hands or with drum sticks), in a steady, unchanging pulse like a regular heartbeat or walking rhythm.
  • Add subdivisions of the beat. For each pulse-note, you can play two, three, or four equal beats. Vary these rhythmic subdivisions to create rhythmic interest and new patterns.
  • Repeat your beat patterns several times. Trance music works on repetition, so keep an individual rhythmic pattern going for some considerable time before moving on to a new or different pattern. The underlying pulse of the music stays the same throughout.
  • Use dynamics (getting louder or quieter) to change the mood of the drumming trance music. This in turn will affect the mood of the shaman or listener.

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