Noisey Show

The Beating Heart of the Women's March

Drummers from Afro-Brazilian samba-reggae band Batalá and the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center talk beats, protest, and hope.
January 27, 2017, 3:37pm

The music makes you march, chant, or shout, welcoming you to step out for the first time with a placard, or driving you toward grim resolve. It challenges you to fight harder and better—and to dance. Protest music assumes its different forms over the course of generations, movements, and artistic refinements, to welcome all sorts of people to the struggle, to give hope, and to say things you can say, sometimes, only with a drum. In the United States, says Alison Rodden, "Women, girls—a lot of us have personal stories where it came time to select an instrument, we wanted drums, and we were offered a flute, clarinet, or violin. In this country, it's an instrument that's dominated by one gender over another. So for us, it was an honor to be able to take part in the march as a full women's drum ensemble." For two percussion bands that marched the avenues during the January 21, 2017 Women's March on Washington, drumming advanced two long traditions of political music: Afro-Brazilian Samba-Reggae, for the D.C. band Batalá Washington; and the pungmul, for Chicago's Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC). They also brought, like the March as a whole, a mixture of political and aesthetic views, community ideals, and attitudes toward speaking out. Read more on Noisey