The Heart Drum

A tribute to Remo Belli who made the “heart drum.”

By James Billington, Hidden Wings

The drum is tuned to approximate the frequency of the heart. As you drum closer to the center of these wide circular table drums you come closer to the common frequency of the heartbeat. The note is c#.

Jim Hidden Wings Heart drum

The effect is that with patterned rhythms several people around the drum can begin to actually resonate with one another’s hearts. A simple repetitive beat connects people at the deepest level, the level where life begins and sustains. And the intimacy of connection between two people whose normative experience is solitude, to all of a sudden become in effect joined by a common heartbeat, is amazing. We see people cry, embrace, look one another in the eye. And always smile.

That is the legacy if the late Remo Belli, drum maker to the world for over 50 years. Prior to his death a month ago at age 88 Remo spent a great deal of his time in his work space on the factory floor. While this factory, which houses acres under 1 roof were cranking out drums for Taylor Swift, The Rose Bowl, and George Strait – Remo was creating drums for people whose lives could be changed, healed ,made more whole by a unique “heart drum.”

An innovator, pioneer and icon of the world of percussion, Remo Belli was an inspiration to us all for breaking new ground and making a difference in the world.

Jim Billington with Remo Belli
Jim Billington with Remo Belli


Remo Belli (1927-2016) was a visionary. In 1957, he invented the first successful synthetic drumhead which forever changed the sound of music of all genres. He committed himself and his company to providing drummers, the world over, with quality products and programs while striving to expand the acceptance of rhythm and in particular drumming as an integral component of an individual’s well being. Through his ongoing efforts, the professional, the enthusiast, children, the elderly, those at risk and those faced with both emotional and physical challenges have been brought the joy of drumming.

Jim Billington at Hidden Wings with Debra Muzikar and Kevin Hosseini and the Heart Drum
Jim Billington at Hidden Wings with Debra Muzikar and Kevin Hosseini and the Heart Drum


Jim Billington is founder of Hidden Wings, a place where young people with autism can spread their own wings, learning life skills and how to participate with others in a warm and supportive environment. It is located in Santa Ynez, California. Jim is a recipient of a 2016 Art of Autism Hearts and Arts Award.

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