Monday, February 10, 2014

This/not this: polyrhythm

This post was going to be a survey of YouTube videos on polyrhythm, but most of them were so bad, it was shaping up to be a real bloodbath. So let's just summarize by reviving a series from the early days of the blog:


Not this: 

There's much more from UC Berkley professor CK Ledzekpo after the break— definitely watch these videos if you've been working with my Afro 6/8 pages.


  1. Thanks for posting the C.K. Ladzepko videos--I'm gonna check those out when I have a chance. He came to Humboldt State University for workshops a couple of times when I was there (in 1993 and maybe 1994), and I learned a lot from his presentation. Great guy, too.

  2. Oh, I just noticed that this must have been filmed in Humboldt. The guy to the left of C.K. is my percussion teacher, Eugene Novotney. He's the one who brought C.K. up to the university several times.

  3. I love 'this/not that'!

    More please...

  4. Anonymous10:16 AM

    yes, that is Dr. Novotney, as well as John Santos... BTW, CK Ladzekpo is adamant about "12/8" being a more accurate translation between African and Western concepts & terminologies than "6/8." Remember that 12/8 has four beats but 6/8 only has two. And the overall bell cycle is 4 beats long... Two bars of 6/8 is just a convenient way to make that easier to read, and to emphasize the call & response relationship within the entire phrase, but its a bad habit, really, and causes all sorts of problems in practice. The two different notational conventions are not equivalent, and CK insists that thinking in 6/8 reflects a faulty conception of what is really going on, and is not accurate according to the way his people create this music...

  5. Thanks for that— more information from people who have actually studied with the cats is always welcome! I habitually refer to this feel as being in 6 because that's the convention in jazz— also in Afro-Cuban music, apparently due to thinking of clave as a two-measure thing? But nothing I say about this music is meant to be taken as authoritative of anything except what works for me in my own playing, and what I encounter in the field as a jazz musician.

  6. Anonymous1:54 PM

    yeah, "afro blue" is truly in 3, and not in 2 or in 4... I am the one who left the comments & I'm very glad you appreciated them. I have benefitted very much from some of the brazilian stuff you've posted over the years. you truned me onto a number of very useful sources, so thank you thank...


  7. Anonymous1:57 PM

    ...i have to add that i think the reason most american drummers can't play cuban music at tempo is b/c they are thinking of the thing as being a total of 8 beats long, divided into 2 bars, rather than just using 16th notes and having the full phrase take only 8 beats total. david penalosa has written quite a bit about that in his clave books, and the debt to CK Ladzekpo is obvious. CK even addresses the clave rhythm at the very end of this youtube-d presentation that you've posted...

  8. Sounds like a similar thing to people thinking triplets in jazz... it just bogs down...

  9. Anonymous10:49 AM

    ah, that's interesting, okay. not being a heavy jazz guy, i wouldn't have really thought about that or understood why it was an important difference. that's awesome to brush-up on that...