Monday, March 17, 2014

More Guaguancó

OK, my new record is done, my taxes are done, and it's time to get back to business as usual. Here I've found here an interesting version of Guaguanco, a very popular traditional Afro-Cuban rumba style. The usual approach drumset people take with these things is to make a complete beat out of them, but I think it's better to learn the parts one individually, and in twos, and then adding the remaining limbs/parts; it gives you more flexibility in orchestrating the parts on the drumset.

We should listen to this first, then look at the notation:

Here's the cascara pattern— the same as our bell pattern from our previous page of Guaguanco; usually on the drumset you'll play this on the shell or rim of the floor tom, on cowbell, or on the bell of the cymbal. Be careful how you handle the accent on beat 3 of the second measure; when I've seen this written, the accent is given on the & of 3, but that's not what I'm hearing in this case. I've included the clave rhythm (3-2 rumba) for reference, but you could also play it with the left foot or left hand.

 Even though I've written this in 4/4, the feel here is played “in 1”, with one primary pulse per measure. On the recording one of the drummers is playing a slap sound on the rhythm given below; you can play this as a rim click on the snare drum:

The familiar Guaguanco tonal melody on the drums is present here, oriented to the 3 side of clave, which I associate with non-traditional versions of this feel. But the group on this recording, Conjunto Clave y Guaguanco, is definitely traditional, so I guess it's a legit thing. There are also some cool some muffled tones, which I've included. The staccato notes are muffled (you could play them as dead strokes), and the long notes are open tones. The short strokes could also be played on the high drum instead.

Typo alert— I've given Son clave in the next few examples; shove the clave note on beat 4 of the first measure over to the & of 4, like in the other examples.

Much more after the break:

This is the usual orientation of the melody in traditional settings, as I've always understood it:

Here's an example of that:

Back to our version, here's the drum part together with the palitos pattern:

The rhythm of the muffled note tends to be stretched in an interesting way, more like a triplet.

Along with the palitos pattern:

And the low note on beat 4 of the second measure is slightly anticipated. The actual placement of that note is probably a little later than this 16th note rhythm:

The lowest drum on the recording (the tumba, the lowest conga drum, I suppose) has an interesting part— we'll play it with the bass drum. Once it's learned, you can add the clave rhythm with the left hand, as a rim click on the snare drum, or with your left foot:

Here's that bass drum part combined with the slap sounds— you might play this if you had a conga drummer (or drummers) present, covering the melodic part:

Here's a semi-complete groove, with the melodic part combined with the bass drum. Add the left foot playing clave if you want to go nuts with this style:

Get the pdf of all of these patterns on one page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice post Todd this is pretty challenging stuff. I had a few questions about the cascara or palito pattern. What happens if you play the second bar first and the first bar second? While maintaining the same 3.2 rhumba clave pattern, keeping everything else the same. Can you keep the clave 3.2 in this case or would it be better to switch the clave to 2.3? Would it become something new, aka non traditional or is this something practiced regularly with guaguanco? A lot of people seem to think there are some very hard and fast rules about how this music can be played while still remaining in the "traditional" realm.