Music and Memory Loss: An Interview with Percussionist David Naylor
After suffering a debilitating illness, David Naylor found himself in a hospital unable to remember who he was. During his recovery, he saw an online photo of himself sitting behind a percussion setup that would become known as the "Gathering of Drums." At the center of this setup was a Zenko Drum in the Akebono tuning - that seemed to David to serve as the "heart" of the collection. Upon being discharged, David returned to his home and was filled with wonder upon finding himself before these instruments in real life, unable to remember anything about how they came to be assembled or how he'd played them. And thus began a journey to reinvent and rediscover himself though music.
After hearing a little about David's story, We Play Well Together's Joule L'Adara invited David to join her on an Instagram Live to share more. What unfolded was a fascinating conversation about what's possible when we let go of the past stories of who we are and can live fully in the present moment. David describes the state of wonderment he often now finds himself in which contains both a sense of deja-vu (as small portions of his memory float in and out) and at the same time being able to stay in mindfulness with the absence of many memories. "I like the memory loss!" he exclaims at one point in the interview, clarifying that some of the memories that do occasionally surface scare him, due to their traumatic content.
"A lot of therapy with amazing therapists have helped me try to integrate with the person who used to live in this body, who I kind of feel like died. So the things that scared me were memories from that past life." Losing his memory, then brought him to this place he describes as a state of fascination - allowing him to "clear the slate."
David also speaks positively and with fondness for his neurodivergence in the form of ADHD/ADD - as his need to connect with specific number patterns has given him a deeper connection to the rhythmic patterns played on the drums. He describes an "OCD connection" to a 3-6-9 Afro-Cuban rhythmic pattern. In the interview, he demonstrates playing this sequence then breaks it down for the audience slowly to reveal a spiral-pattern where the one-beat overlaps the 9 of each rhythmic cycle.
When asked about his connection the the Zenko Drum, David responded: "I think it's a warm connection with my past. I think it helps take me to another world - or other worlds." And, he ads: "It just sounds lovely!" Joule and David agreed that the simple purity of the tones touches something deep within.
For a beautiful deep dive into mindfulness, memory, and rhythm, listen to this 75-minute long-form IG Live interview edited for YouTube with photos of David's percussion setup and live playing interspersed with the story-telling on our YouTube Channel:
The Zenko Drum is made by Metal Sounds in France. We distribute all the various Zenko tunings including the Akebono tuning that David plays in his "Gathering of Drums" percussion setup. For more about the Zenko Drum and to hear all the different Zenko Drum tunings, check out this blog and video: How to Chose your Zenko Drum Tuning.
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