A drum or an electric guitar or an electronic keyboard is not evil or wrong in itself.
First of all, we are opposed to the use of drums to produce rhythms that are sensual or sexual in nature.
The Bible says that this world is fallen and is under the dominion of sinful men and demons, and God’s people are to separate from the evil things of this world. The Bible makes a sharp distinction between the holy and the profane (Ezek. 22:26), between God and the world (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17). John said, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). That has very far-reaching implications, including implications about Christian music.
Drums are used in an orchestra and in a military marching band, but they are used differently in that context than in a rock band. In a military marching band, drums are used to mark a straight beat. In an orchestra, drums are used in moderation to support the music rather than to dominate it. But in a rock band, drums pound out a steady backbeat that dominates the music.
Rhythm itself is not wrong unless it is misused. Rhythm is a necessary part of music. It keeps the music moving, but it should not dominate. The Bible says it is the melody that should dominate in Christian music.
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
Contrast a traditional sacred music song like “Onward Christian Soldiers” with a rock song. Both have rhythm, but the rhythm in most rock songs absolutely dominates and overwhelms the musical piece, whereas the rhythm in “Onward Christian Soldiers” simply complements the lyrical message and moves the song along.
Frank Garlock, who has a doctorate in music from the Eastman School of Music, contrasts the rhythm section of an orchestra with that of a rock band:
“How much rhythm is too much rhythm, as thought of from a numerical perspective? The typical symphony, such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, includes approximately one hundred musicians. Three to four of them are responsible for the rhythm as they play the percussion instruments like the timpani, bass and snare drums, cymbals, triangle, bells, and several other rhythmic devices. Since the percussion instruments do not perform much of the time, it can be concluded that LESS THAN FOUR PERCENT OF THE ORCHESTRA IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BASIC RHYTHM. It might be argued that all of the instruments play some part of the rhythm, but this only makes the analogy between rhythm and the pulse stronger. All parts of our bodies are affected by the pulse, but it is the pulse itself which gives the body its basic rhythm. In addition to this, it must be remembered that just as the spirit, mind, and body are interrelated, so are the melody, harmony, and rhythm. One cannot exist without the other two.
“The conventional secular or Christian rock group has a slightly different blend. Typically there are four basic instruments: the rhythm guitar, a bass guitar, an array of drums, and the lead guitar. Although the guitar is not usually considered a rhythm instrument, as used by a rock group it definitely is. All four instruments can be classified as belonging to the rhythm family. The only one which offers the ‘melody’ on occasion is the lead guitar. At best, the sound which comes from THE TYPICAL ROCK GROUP IS SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT RHYTHM” (Frank Garlock, Music in the Balance, pp. 67, 68).
It is the drum more than any other instrument that pounds out the backbeat in a rock band. Dan Lucarini, a former contemporary praise leader who led two churches from a sacred to a contemporary stance, warns about rock drums in his book Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader. Lucarini describes how he led churches incrementally away from the traditional stance. Lucarini associates the drum set with the final stage in this process:
“When the drum set finally appeared on the platform, I believe the church reached the steepest and most dangerous part of the slope. More than any other instrument, a drum set is the key instrument of contemporary music styles” (Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement, p. 121).
We have already seen in this book that the rock backbeat is sexual in nature. This is what unsaved rockers have testified. See the chapter “Why We Are Opposed to CCM.”
Therefore we are opposed to drums when they are used in a rock & roll fashion to pound out the sensual backbeat and in a manner that dominates the music rather than merely supports it.
We are also opposed to drums when they are used to produce rhythms that are associated with the demonic.
Not only is the drum an instrument that is at the heart of the rock & roll backbeat in modern society, but it is also intimately associated with the demonic.
One of the greatest experts in drums has testified that they have the power to alter consciousness and to carry people into spirit worlds. Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, has traveled the world researching the power of drums. In Drumming at the Edge of Magic, he says:
“Everywhere you look on the planet people are USING DRUMS TO ALTER CONSCIOUSNESS. … I’ve discovered, along with many others, the extraordinary power of music, particularly percussion, to influence the human mind and body. . . . There have been many times when I’VE FELT AS IF THE DRUM HAS CARRIED ME TO AN OPEN DOOR INTO ANOTHER WORLD.”
Mickey Hart is not a professing Christian, but his observation that certain types of rhythm produced by drums can alter consciousness and carry people into other worlds is a loud warning to believers who understand the danger of the demonic.
The Bible tells us that there are two spirit worlds: that of God and that of the devil. These worlds are not equal and their power is not equal, but both worlds are real, and the reality of the demonic world is something that every Christian must learn to deal with.
The Bible calls the devil “the prince of the power of the air” and warns that this fallen angel “now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). The Bible speaks of “rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
Pearl Primus, an expert on voodoo, says:
“THE DRUMMERS KEEP UP A TERRIFIC THROB AND BEAT WHICH VERY EASILY TAKES POSSESSION OF THE SENSIBILITIES OF THE WORSHIPPERS. Observers say that THESE DRUMS THEMSELVES ARE ABLE TO BRING A PERSON TO A PLACE WHERE IT IS EASY FOR THE DEITY (LOA) TO TAKE POSSESSION of their bodies--the defenseless person is buffeted by each stroke as the drummer sets out to ‘beat the loa’ (god) into his head: The person cringes with each large (accented) beat as if the drum mallet descended upon his very skull; he ricochets about the place, clutching blindly at the arms extended to support him” (Pearl Primus, lecture, Mount Holyoke College, Holyoke, Massachusetts, Mary E. Wooley Hall, 1953; cited from Leonard J. Seidel, Face the Music: Contemporary Church Music on Trial, 1988, pp. 43-42).
The association between rock & roll and voodoo has been observed by unsaved rock musicians. The British rock session drummer, Rocki (Kwasi Dzidzornu), who has recorded with many famous groups such as the Rolling Stones, Spooky Tooth, and Ginger Baker, understood that the music of Jimi Hendrix was akin to voodoo. Note the following amazing statement from Hendrix’s biography:
“He [Hendrix] had gotten a chance to see Rocki and some other African musicians on the London scene. He found it a pleasure to play rhythms against their polyrhythms. They would totally get outside, into another kind of space that he had seldom been in before. ... ROCKI’S FATHER WAS A VOODOO PRIEST AND THE CHIEF DRUMMER OF A VILLAGE IN GHANA, West Africa. Rocki’s real name was Kwasi Dzidzornu. ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS ROCKI ASKED JIMI WAS WHERE HE GOT THAT VOODOO RHYTHM FROM. When Jimi demurred, Rocki went on to explain in his halting English that MANY OF THE SIGNATURE RHYTHMS JIMI PLAYED ON GUITAR WERE VERY OFTEN THE SAME RHYTHMS THAT HIS FATHER PLAYED IN VOODOO CEREMONIES. The way Jimi danced to the rhythms of his playing reminded Rocki of the ceremonial dances to the rhythms his father played to Oxun, the god of thunder and lightning. The ceremony is called voodooshi. As a child in the village, Rocki would carve wooden representatives of the gods. They also represented his ancestors. These were the gods they worshiped. They would jam a lot in Jimi’s house. One time they were jamming and Jimi stopped and asked Rocki point-blank, ‘You communicate with God, do you?’ Rocki said, ‘Yes, I communicate with God’” (David Henderson, ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, pp. 250, 251).
There are proponents of “Christian rock” music who claim that it is “racist” to say there is an association between voodoo and African jungle music and rock & roll, but there is nothing racist about it. In Jimi Hendrix’s biography (which is NOT written by a Christian), we see that the non-Christian son of a voodoo priest saw a direct connection between the music of rock and roll and that of idolatrous voodoo. Is the black rock drummer Rocki a racist for making such an observation about the music of a black rock and roller? His remarks cannot be dismissed conveniently as the ranting of a “white fundamentalist”!
Consider some other testimonies by secular authorities about the intimate association between drums and voodoo and magic. These examples are from Bible Guidelines for Music by Terry Watkins:
“[Drums] represents the beat of the heart and is played to summon up magic powers” (Miranda Bruce-Mitford, The Illustrated Book of Signs & Symbols, DK Publishing, 1996 p. 80).
“The shaman was the original ‘long hair’, the first rock star draped in leather, dancing possessed to a rhythm banged out on a DRUM. ... To these people, COMMUNICATION WITH THE GODS WAS SYNONYMOUS WITH DRUMS ... the body can become the conduit for a deity, a deity not necessarily the same sex as the worshiper, and DRUMS ARE THE CATALYST FOR THE WHOLE PROCESS. The trance of the RHYTHM then begets the hysteria, which begets what Westerners simplistically call ‘possession’” (Danny Sugerman, Appetite for Destruction, p. 208, 181).
“In Siberia, in northern Asia, drums are used in shamanic rituals to heal people. It is believed that THE SHAMAN CAN COMMUNICATE WITH THE SPIRIT WORLD THROUGH DRUMMING” (Louise Tythacott, Musical Instruments, Thomas Learning, 1995, p. 37).
“TODAY’S DRUMMER DIFFERS BUT LITTLE FROM THE SHAMAN IN HIS INCESSANT BEATING OUT OF A RHYTHM, AND LIKEWISE OFTEN ENTERS INTO A FORM OF TRANCE WHILE PERFORMING” (David Tame, The Secret Power of Music, p. 199).
Here’s what Robert Palmer, a secular authority on rock music, says about rock and the drum:
“The idea that certain RHYTHM patterns or sequences serve as CONDUITS FOR SPIRITUAL ENERGIES, linking individual human consciousness with the gods, is basic to traditional African religions, and to African-derived religions throughout the Americas. And whether we’re speaking historically or musicologically, the fundamental riffs, licks, bass figures, and drum rhythms that make rock and roll can ultimately be traced back to African music of a primarily spiritual or ritual nature. In a sense, ROCK AND ROLL IS A KIND OF ‘VOODOO’” (Palmer, Rock & Roll, An Unruly History, Harmony Books, New York, 1995, p. 53)
Palmer describes how drums are used in “voodoo” possession.
“Bata drummers tap out their toques, or rhythm patterns, like SIGNALS TO THE REALM OF THE GODS, inviting and enticing them to come on down and mount or POSSESS their horses, or devotees. ... THE SPECIFIC DRUM PATTERNS OR TOQUES INCLUDE SOME RIFFS AND LICKS BASIC TO THE ROCK AND ROLL vocabulary” (Palmer, Rock & Roll An Unruly History, p. 62).
The same drum rhythms that Robert Palmer describes as “signals to the realm of the gods” form the basic foundation of rock ‘n’ roll and Contemporary Christian Music!
The occult magazine New Age Journal also describes the “possessing” power of drums.
“I remembered a conversation I’d once had in Cuba with a reporter from The New York Times, ‘Stay away from those drums,’ he had told me, referring to the ones said to call down the gods in Santeria’s sacred ceremonies. ‘If I ever really gave in to those DRUMS, my life would change in ways I’m not prepared to take on,’ he had added. I knew what he was talking about. IT WAS ALL THERE IN THE DRUMMING. LISTEN LONG ENOUGH, AND SOME ENERGY FIELD, SOME KIND OF INTERCONNECTEDNESS, BECAME PALPABLE. I was hungry for those drums. Yet I still ran from them” (Elizabeth Hanly, “A Shaman’s Story, A Vodoun priest leads the author on a journey of understanding,” New Age Journal, March/April 1997 pp. 56-57).
When the first black slaves from Africa were converted to Christianity in America, they knew the evil power and influence of DRUMS because of their background. And the converted blacks forbade the use of drums! They referred to them as “the devil’s drum” (Martha Bayles, Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music, p. 138).
A secular authority on American music, says, “Historically blacks had drawn the line between particular instruments and practices; they permitted tambourines, for instance, but NOT DRUMS” (Bayles, Hole in Our Soul, p. 130).
Thus, it is not the drum itself to which we are opposed; it is the use of the drum in a manner that is associated with the sensual and the demonic.
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family. You may also post parts of reports and/or entire reports to websites, blogs, etc as long as you give proper credit (citation). A link to the original report is very much appreciated as the reports are frequently updated and/or expanded. Things we do not want copied and distributed are "Store" items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18). Questions? email@example.com
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: Offerings are welcome if you care to make one. If you have been helped and/or blessed by our material offerings can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.