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Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion Paperback – September, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The percussionist for the Grateful Dead is so New Age in his persuasions that his book comes with a "tree clause": two trees will be planted for every one used in its manufacture. His spell-binding drumming stories come from his studies and travels and his consultation with anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and students of mythology, Joseph Campbell among them. His personal commentary on how percussion is "used" both in music and in the wider culture in a variety of world settings seems only to miss female drumming traditions (in Korea, for example). Visually, the book is a knockout, with a vibrant cover, 90 well-chosen illustrations (some in color), and excellent layout. Even the paperback is a permanent book, with good paper and a stiffer-than-usual cover. The annotated bibliography is a plus. Recommended. See below for the collected lyrics of Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.--Ed.
- Bonnie Jo Dopp, Dist . of Columbia P.L.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mickey Hart's efforts to document ancient and increasingly rare rhythmic traditions include his production for Rykodisc of The World, a series of unique reocrdings of music from around the world. He also serves on the board of the Smithsonian Institution's Folkway Records.

Jay Stevens is the author of Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Harper San Francisco; 1st edition (September 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006250374X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062503749
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #401,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David S. Merrill on January 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
At a glance, Drumming at the Edge of Magic may seem like an autobiogrphical journey by the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart. While the book is autobiographical, it goes far beyond that to discover the real meaning of drumming and music in general.
The meaning of drumming (or life?) comes in many forms, and many disguises. As Hart begins to unluck the secrets to why humans desire to express themselves in music, one can't help but say, "YES!". Hart, and to a certain extent, Jay Stevens, put into words what drummers and other musicians have felt all along but have never known how to express. The journey ends up being a look inward; not just for Hart but for the reader as well.
After reading this, I had my wife and father read it. I explained, "This is how I feel about drumming."
The companion CD and sequel book, "Planet Drum," are nice additions but the book stands by its self as an outstanding source for understanding music at its most basic form.
This book will move you.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Denny Riley on December 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
When I decided to take up hand percussion, I sought out this work out of respect for the authors' musicianship, and his ongoing projects with the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress. This book led me quickly past the idea of playing drums, and into areas which effect us spiritually, emotionally, and even physically. I've read it twice, and will read it again--and again until I REALLY understand it all. If World Music interests you, if you are a drummer, or if you are seeking inner peace, this book belongs in your hands.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Michael j Hawker on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'd lost interest in playing for about 5 years before I read this book, but Mickey Hart's book brought me back to the reasons I started hitting the bottom of tin cans woth a wooden spoon! This book follows, to a degree, the history of drums, and studies the emotional, spiritual and physical effects of drums, old ancient, and new on people. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to play for any or no reason, and to andone who can't explain why the music makes them dance.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a truly incredible novel written with a definite joie de vivre. Most of the book deals with Mickey Hart's (former Grateful Dead drummer) journey towards an understanding of ethnic drumming. Filled with fascinating stories, like the Tibetan "power" drums that are made from human skulls, the book also incorporates stories from Hart's life, like how one of these same drums almost killed him, and eventually changed his life. Half biography, half ethnology, it's all written with incredible ease and fluidity. A definite must-read for any ethnic music lovers.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dane Hunnerup on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Drumming At The Edge of Magic is a truly inspirational book for all people interested in drumming and rhythms. It details Harts cathartic exploration and eases the modern drummer into other-worldly potentials.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carlos Neumann on May 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
A wonderful peek at a quest for understanding the role the drum has had on our developement as a species. A tall order and you might not get all the answers, but the passionate tale of the hunt is first rate!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
A fascinating musical journey and also a must for those who are into ethnic / world music. Now occupies a space on my shelf beside "World Music: The Rough Guide" and "The Brazilian Sound."
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BENJAMIN MILER on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am not a Deadhead, nor am I a drummer, but I have really admired this book, and Mickey Hart big time. He really went off the deep end of his knowledge of percussion, both conventional, and exotic. I had not had this book with me since 1995, so my mind is a bit foggy, but if I remember right, the book is also a trip down Memory Lane, speaking of the hippie days of the Haight-Ashbury, The Grateful Dead and the whole scene in general. One of my favorites was of a drum he got in Tibet made from human skulls. He was wondering why he felt like he was being cursed, and he was told that he was using the drums wrong and it was used to wake the dead. He decided to return the drums and get a similar one not made of skulls. Drumming at the Edge of Magic was also a tie-in to what was then Mickey Hart's latest CD called At the Edge. This book really makes me wished I was there with the hippies and the Deadheads, even if I, myself don't listen to the Dead. It's too bad the Dead isn't around anymore thanks to Jerry Garcia's untimely death. Whether you're a Deadhead or not, whether you're a percussionist or not, this is truly an enthusiastic and well-written book on the subject of percussion.
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