Below are some ideas and concepts that I am currently developing and/or keeping up on in my own performance and education situations. You will find audio clips, downloadable transcriptions in pdf format, and general theories behind them. If you download and pass these ideas on to others please give credit where credit is due... this material IS copyrighted! Enjoy, and I welcome your comments. jda
As some of you may (or may not) know, over the past year or so I have been experimenting with the transcription and performance practice of batá toques for one player. I have taken each rhythm and carefully transferred melodies and rhythmic context to a one-player situation. This has been a very tedious, yet rewarding, endeavor (hell, its improved my drumset independence like you wouldn't believe!). It has also yielded some great compositional material with my current duo MARASSA DUO. Anyway, I am almost through the Oru seco, have many of the "general" toques completed, as well as many toque especiales.
Through my transcription process I am extremely conscientious of melody (both eñu and chachá) as well as overall rhythmic feel within the boundaries of coordination. I take a considerable amount of time with each toque, recording, writing/ rewriting, etc. One problematic issue is the positioning of the okonkolo. I position the okonkolo dependent upon the particular toque. I find that many (not all mind you) of the 6/8 rhythms I have all eñu heads on the same side. This seems to keep the "kin-la" melody outline in tact. This is the case with the version of Elegguá below. With many of the 4/4 rhythms it works better (in most cases) to have the okonkolo reversed, much like Ochosí and Wardo. Toques such as Serebase and Ofereré (below) warrant reversal of the okonkolo and these toques are in 6/8. In many instances I have two versions of the same toque with okonkolo "normal" and with it reversed. There are pros and cons to each positioning situation.
So, here are some samples of what I have been doing - and yes, this is me playing all three batá at once! The recording was done in my home studio - completely live and one take, no over-dubbing. The transcription samples are in a version of T.U.B.S. I have developed for this situation. Let me know what you think... I welcome and appreciate the comments!
Check out the recent article in PERCUSSIVE NOTES
Elegguá (salute rhythm)
Ochosí (salute rhythm)
Wardo (general toque)
Ofereré (for Chango)
PDF transcription samples:
If you have kept up with the "performing groups" link on my site you will have noticed that I front my own latin-jazz/ salsa sextet called PIONEROS del RITMO. In this band I essentially take the role of a timbale player (only with a drumset in front of me) for many of the grooves. This is partly due to the fact that I work with another percussionist (playing congas and bongos) and we try to stay as true to the original style of music as possible. I am frequently asked by fellow percussionists and students to explain and/or demonstrate some of the grooves I use. These have taken alot of work and hard practice in order to make them feel the way they should...especially dealing with some of the clave independence. Anyway, check out three grooves I use on a regular basis:
Now, in regards to how I developed my left foot clave independence. One thing that works well is using GS Stones single beat combinations from "Stick Control" (p 5-7). Play these sticking patterns while keeping clave in your left foot. I have also written out several exercises for students (and myself) to help the process. Here is one from my series called "clave calisthenics." This helps develop independence between your snare & bass drum while keeping palitos and clave in your two other limbs.
Most of you may be aware that, apart from my performance
interests in traditional Afro-Caribbean music and jazz drumset, I am also
a jazz vibraphonist. Since moving to the Philadelphia area I have been
fortunate enough to be gigging quite a bit, which has motivated me to
learn new tunes constantly. One of my weaknesses, at least I believe,
is chordal style playing and comping. Along with sight reading changes
on a daily basis, I decided to tackle this deficiency by transcribin,
learning and practicing hymns and chorales...basically a new one each
week. Practicing this type of material is an excellent way to work on
chordal playing, voice leading, and mallet dampening techniques. Below
are a few chorales I have arranged for this purpose:
** For those of you serious about your vibraphone playing, check out VIBESWORKSHOP. COM. The site is run by my good friend and monster vibraphonist Tony Miceli. Online faculty include greats like Gary Burton, Joe Locke, David Friedman, Ed Saindon, to name a few. If you are a vibes player you should be a member of this site!
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