When our hearts stop beating, we die.
That's a fact often cited by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart to underscore the primacy of rhythm in the human experience. He made the point in 1991 when he spoke to a U.S. Senate committee on aging and health.
"Everything that exists in time has a rhythm and a pattern," Hart said. "The heart beats between 60 and 80 times per minute, and the lungs fill and empty at about a quarter of that speed, all of which occurs at a subconscious level."
Few people have spent more time theorizing about drumming than Hart. He's written books on the subject. He's dedicated his professional life to playing rhythm.
Hart's Global Drum Project is his world-music collaboration with tabla artist Zakir Hussain, Nigerian talking-drum virtuoso Sikiru Adepoju and Latin percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo. Hart and Hussain began working together in the 1970s world-fusion experiment Diga Rhythm Band.
Fifteen years ago, Global Drum Project released Planet Drum, a CD that spent 26 weeks atop the Billboard world-music chart. The recording won the first-ever World Music Grammy.
Hart's latest album with Hussain hit stores earlier this month. Global Drum Project is 47 minutes of hypnotic percussion that incorporates a variety of electronic samples. The tranced-out grooves feature vocals from Hussain's brother, Taufiq Qureshi, and the instrumentation includes sitar and sarangi.
"This is a deep drumming groove," Hart says in the press release accompanying the new album. "We're taking the archaic rhythm worlds into outer space."
Going to see Global Drum Project provides more than an opportunity to go and see. With the band's emphasis on the transformative nature of drumming, community participation is fundamental.
A workshop focusing on bass drums will be held in Overture's Wisconsin Studio from 4:30 to 6 p.m. the evening of the show. The workshop is for experienced drummers and will be led by percussion educator Helen Bond. From 6:30 to 7:30, Bond will facilitate a community drum circle in the Overture Lobby. People can bring their own instruments or simply clap along.
Global Drum Project is more than a musical gig. It's a chance to celebrate the idea that, as Hart says, "we are embedded within a rhythmical universe."