The Voyage of the Drum brings together all of the member cities of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in cooperation to share the ways in which the drum is a cross-cultural form of human expression and cultural heritage.

The Voyage of the Drum, from the perspective of Kansas City, Missouri USA and the Americas – is the story of the African Diaspora and its critical influence on the development of all unique American Music genres – including, blues, Kansas City swing, jazz, bebop, rhythm and blues, rock & roll, soul, funk, rap, hip-hop, house, neo-soul, and even bluegrass and country music.

UNESCO and UCCN Policy Context

In the context of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), the Voyage of the Drum project promotes the].

The Voyage of the Drum promotes racial equity and cultural awareness of the African Diaspora worldwide by highlighting the African influence on the musical genres of the world through the drum and rhythm-based musical projects. This project is open to all cities in the UNESCO Creative City Network.

The Voyage of the Drum and UCCN Creative Clusters

Crafts and Folk Art; Design: All African drums are works of art – including intricate carvings, animal bodies and human bodies as sound chambers. The artistic lacing systems for tuning the drum are designed for visual beauty and function.

Cities of Craft and Folk Art can use this project to express and explain the Voyage of the Drum and the influence of the African diaspora on the development of their local drumming and musical traditions. Cities of Design can illustrate the ways in which drums and other rhythm instruments are evidence of unique design traditions and innovation.

Film: There are numerous films produced that trace the history of African drumming or how it is expressed, e.g. Sworn to the Drum, Drum, Black Orpheus, Pulse, Saudade do Futuro, etc. Cities of Film can join Cities of Music to express the Voyage of the Drum through film clips, sharing documentaries and other creative uses of film to illustrate musical cultures.

Literature: Numerous books and countless articles have been written about the African drumming expressions, such as, Healing Drum, Drummers Path, Mandiana, Drumming for the Gods, Rhythm and Rhythmic Sensibility, etc. Poetry can express the rhythm of a particular drum or the sound of a city through onomatopoeia and other literary forms.

Gastronomy: In the African tradition, music and food are synonymous. Most musical gatherings in the West African Diaspora call for a particular kind of cuisine. The construction of a drum often calls for a certain type of tree and/or an animal. Food-related components (animal skins for example) were not wasted in traditional cultures, but used for drums, carving tools, statues, masks, dwellings, and for social and ritual drumming gatherings, respectively.

Media Arts: Digital media and arts can express the multi-dimensional experience of sound and visual expression of the Voyage of the Drum. Cities in the Media Arts category also have their own drumming tradition(s) and connections to the African Diaspora. As a documentation of the historical journey of drums and drumming cultures across time and space – media arts can help to visualize the experiences and show how cities are connected through music, musicians and cultural practices.

Contacts for the Voyage of the Drum

For more information about the Voyage of the Drum, please contact:

Anita J. Dixon, Coordinator and Director

UNESCO Creative City Network, UCCN Kansas City, City of Music, Kansas City, Missouri USA Anita J. Dixon [email protected]


Jacob A. Wagner, Co-Coordinator

UNESCO Creative City Network, UCCN Kansas City, City of Music
Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design, UMKC, Kansas City, Missouri USA [email protected]