Cat in a Dog Costume at a Dog Party

Full Latin Kit set up

In the latest blogs we have been learning the concept of mixing cut time with 6/8 in order to play “Latin” music with the proper feel and vocabulary. These concepts are a very important part of our growth behind the kit. Without them it is impossible to play this music properly. What are some of the symptoms of a player that has not been exposed to these concepts? Here are the biggest ones.
1) Playing a specific pattern over and over through the whole song.
2) Little or no ability to make transitions or fills that fit the genre.
3) All phrasing including feel of patterns played stiff and all in “2” . Or sometimes even “swung”! Uggghhhh that’s a groove killer for sure!
Playing with these symptoms on a “real Latin gig”, will give you the feeling of being a “cat in a dog costume …at a dog party”.  You will be sniffed out in a matter of seconds. The thought of snarling snouts (especially from Dancers) is an ugly prospect for sure!

For the music to feel open and have a great feel it’s important to be able to improvise. And improvise with the right vocabulary. Independence plays a huge role in this. Musicality has an even bigger role. Playing a few worked out patterns and filling using R&B or rock type fills based on very basic subdivisions will definetly get you nowhere. I should know. I struggled with this too in my early days of playing. Back then, the task of changing my playing and understanding the language of this drumming was very scary. The phrasing of timbaleros and congueros was baffling at the time. There were no methods for the western player to develop into this. I was pretty much left to battle it out on the streets of L.A.  – Learning by trial and error and bugging everyone I knew to teach me what to do. This was not only confusing and hurtful, but extremely time consuming. Your advantage now…is that you have a system to develop into with minimum amount of time and maximum benefit to your playing.
That said, it is time to hash out more stuff behind the kit. In this workshop, we will start to add voices to our exercises. The Hi Tom will now take the accents or phrases we worked on. This is an essential step in hearing “call and answer” or melodic phrasing. The main function of this is to promote orchestration of phrases on the kit. Using only the hi tom to play phrases is a good way to set up your hearing for melodic phrasing. It allows you the opportunity to get used to hearing the phrases on something other than the snare, and gives you a chance to become accostomed to making the movements necessary to use the toms as sound sources. As before, on the bass drum and hi hat we will use our basic Afro Cuban tumbao as an ostinato. But remember, we will be applying these exercises to many other styles and grooves as well.
Have fun with these and as always. Download the PDF’s below and make it happen!!

Hi tom as sound sources cut time

Toca con Sabor!!

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