Do not take the following rhythms charts too seriously. Most of the rhythms below are part of oral traditions, which means you're not supposed to learn them from a piece of paper or a screen. Some real person is supposed to show you how to play it, and give you all kinds of detailed information about the musical and broader social context that is associated with the rhythm, like when to play it, what it means, who's supposed to play it, how you dance to it, how you sing to it, etc.
If you don't have access to a teacher, internet videos may be more useful to learn the feel and context. Writing the rhythms out enforces the unity of the ensemble, this has advantages and disadvantages.
Think of the following charts as skeletons, and be carefull while reanimating them, so as not to unleash horrifying mockeries of their original forms. A good check is to make sure that the people around you are grooving along with you. A better check is to make sure that people from the same place where the rhythm is from are grooving along with you.
Clean starts and stops make drummers sound professional and unified. Most drum parts start with a basic part, do one or more common variations of that part, and then go back to the basic part.
If this notation looks like gibbering mantras to you, find someone who reads music to figure them out for you, or be patient and analytical. The rhythms are notated in an internet-friendly variation of the Time Unit Boxes system. Many drum machines are programed similarily. Many video games work on the same principle. Think of a vertical bar skipping across the page from left to right, at a constant speed. You follow along one of the parts horizontally, and either play a note or leave a space, like a player piano or a typewriter. When you get to the end of the line you automatically jump back to the beginning without loosing any time.
See the description of samba. Samba is
a simple all-purpose rhythm that can incorporate almost any percussion imaginable.
Part Main Rhythm
Low Surdo m hO hm hO h
High Surdo O hm hO hm h
Agogó u ul l l uu l l
Tamborim X X xX X X X xX
W=Whistle -=Continue R=Rim Shot S=Slap z=Buzz x=Hit X=Accented Hit
O=Open h=Hand H=Accented Hand m=Muffled l=Low u=High
Part Start A
One kind of samba from Salvador da Bahia in the Northeast of Brazil has a upbeat like Jamaican Reggae. There are many possible variations, and complex breaks that go along with songs. Hand drums and repinque can do fast solos, surdos can play adornments with 32nd notes, and juggle mallets and drums inbetween beats. Most drummers dance while playing. But, it can also be played slowly and simply.
S=Slap z=Buzz (press roll) Z=Accented Buzz, x=Hit X=Accented Hit, O=Open
Conga de Havana
O=Open tone, s=touch/small slap, S=Slap, B=Bass note, r=right, l=left,
L=Low note, H=High note, X=accented hit, x=soft hit, m=muffled with hand
Conga de Santiago
The conga from Eastern Cuba has more Haitian influence. The featured instrument are campanas (automobile brake drums), named for the sound of their rhythms: "maní tostado" (the most important), "uno y dos", and "chan". The bokú is like a a Brazilian timba, or a light conical conga; djembes, ashikos, even a dumbek would work. From high to low, the Pilón, Requinto, and Tambora are like toms, surdos, or bass drums. Hit them with one stick and muffle with an open hand. This is good rhythm if your group has many good hand drummers.
(nota: Basé esta transcripción en clases tomado del maestro Arlis Cabrera Oris del Grupo 19 de Noviembre en el Museo de Carnaval, durante la semana de carnval, 2001. Arnie)
This rhythm is neither a rumba nor is it from Bulgaria, but the name is catchy.
It is nominally used to disrupt military style marching bands. Start by
listening to the marching band, and marching along. Notice the beat that
your feet make, and take these beats (quarter-notes) and divide them equally
into two faster beats (eighth-notes). Keep these fast beats going with
your hand or voice, and stop marching. Counting out-loud helps: 1234512345....
Each of these fast beats is a count in both the Bulgarian Rhumba and the
marching band, except the Bulgarian Rhumba repeats after 5 (or 10) beats,
and the marching band repeats after 8 beats. Technically, you should cycle
back into phase with the marching band after 10 measures; good luck hearing
it though, because most marching music comes in 8 measure phrases. This
is one rhythm that should be played mechanically, to avoid falling in a
6 or triplet feel. It is a test of discipline to see who looses the beat first.
shuffles, or limps from the left foot to the right foot. Try staggering
in straight line or a circle.
Time Keeper XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
High Bell o oo o oo o oo o oo
High Drum oohm oohm oohm oohm
Low Drum m oohm oohm oohm ooh
Clave x x xx x xx x xx x x
Low Bell o o o o o o
Lead Drum ....................
Dance L R L R L R L R
W=Whistle X=accented hit x=hit o=open note h=hand m=muffled ...=solo L=Left R=Right
Part Start Main End
Con Colo Jam
Part Main a
We Will Rock You!
Now that you've canabalized your drum set, do you really want go back to insipid rhythms? This is an example of what not to play all the time. Most rock rythmns lack the sophistication to stand alone and be interesting for more than thirty seconds. Lows mean surdos and toms. Highs mean snares, bells, claves, jam block, etc.
Highs X X
Lows OO OO
If you really want to rock, you can use "We will rock you!" as a base, and then kick it up a notch with a swinging high-hat. The hi-hat divides each of the counts in the "We will rock you!" (1/8 notes) into 3 faster counts (32nd note triplets). The classic way to play a marching hi-hat is to have someone walk backwards and hold two cymbals together horizontally for the snare drummer to play, but if you don't have the cymbals you can hit the rim of a snare, or cover the part with another instrument like a shaker. There are endless variations most of them done with the low drums.
Part Main a
_="trip", +="let", O=low note , x=high
note, X=accented note, r=rim, R=accented rim
More rhythms will be included in the next edition of this manual so please send us your favorites. We've had alot of success with a slow, mournful "Drone Beat", everybody plays one beat at the same time, every two or three seconds, as your feet fall when walking. Resist the tendency to speed up.
Add songs to your rhythms!
Beware! The above notations cannot represent the quintessential "feel" of traditional music, which you can only get by hearing it over and over again. These are bastardized simplifications of changing rhythms with long histories. They are merely conventions that our small group of drummers has come to consensus on, so as to give an overall structure to otherwise chaotic drum jams.
The best way to learn new rhythms is just to imitate the music you like to listen to.
|More tunes and radical dances from Rhythms of Resistance|