Breaking in Your Ears – Part 1

PM lessons Forum

Welcome to my first blog post here on pmlessons. In these posts I will be out lining many things about drumming. In this first series we have our first Latin workshop. I hope that I can inspire you to play and be a part of these most wonderful and challenging styles.

I say ” Latin” in the sense of how we know this music in the west. Meaning Brazilian, Afro Cuban, Afro Colombian etc etc.

The roots of most of these styles are African. If the core of your musical education has been in a western tradition, (pencil and paper, or…notes, subdivisions etc) to play Latin music you’re going to have to embrace new learning concepts. Learning concepts designed for WESTERNIZED musicians. Without them you could be spinning your wheels for years. You will simply be a “Patterns player”. Never achieving the right feel or flavor found in the music. Finding this “feel” has nothing to do with your background, color, gender, or location! The right information along with the will to learn and a disciplined practice routine will set you on your course towards “Latin bliss”. Without this, you could be subject to much misinformation and misunderstanding.  Through years of teaching and observing, I have found that the following concepts are the fastest and most thorough way to learn to play “the music”. How do you start?? Read on!

Patterns VS Phrasing
Patterns used in African descent music are a lifelong study. You will need to learn patterns. The influx of styles and patterns is relentless! The knowledge of patterns will mean nothing though, if your vocabulary and phrasing is “western”. There is one common thread that runs through all these styles. That thread is the feel and vocabulary! That’s why it’s important to base your drumming foundation on the knowledge of Rhythm –instead of never-ending and newly emerging patterns. This makes the learning curve much smaller. Once you have a grasp on phrasing and vocabulary, patterns will be easier to learn.  What is this phrasing and vocabulary composed of?

Rhythmic and Melodic Cycles.

Cycle = an interval of time during which a sequence of a recurring succession of events or phenomena is completed.

Lets get started. First, you need to “Break in your Ears”.
In the “western” world we have a tendency to write many common African feels in the 6/8 time signature. (They are not necessarily in 6/8)
To assimilate the phrases found in African music, I have designed the following exercises using the 6/8 time signature. The top line is our time line reference pattern. Some people call it the Africa cascara. Some people call the left hand pattern (a 2 bar cycle) the African clave. Different regions have different names for this full rhythm (Bembe etc) and the names continue changing as you change regions of the world. The name I like the most? I heard from an African singer. He called it…Native.

Step 1) Learn the hand pattern
Step 2) Add the H.H. and bass drum.

Here we have our first exercises. Enjoy.

Breaking in your ears workshop1


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