Monday, January 26, 2015

Page o' coordination: Afro 6/8 — “Guiro”

A new POC in 6/8, with a variation on our usual bell pattern, pulled directly from Ed Uribe's excellent, horrifying, massive book, The Essence of Afro-Cuban Percussion and Drum Set. The pattern comes from Guiro, a Cuban folkloric style which I know very little about— we're really just pilfering a rhythm from Cuban religious music and using it for our own ends— to put it in the crassest possible way. Developing ourselves as artists is a legitimate non-theistic, non-liturgical religious practice in its own right, so I don't think what we're doing is quite the moral equivalent of strip-mining Madagascar for minerals to build iPhones.

Personally, it's taking me a few sessions to get this together. Do all of the by-now familiar tom moves once you can play the page straight through without stopping. Because we want to be aware of the 3/4 cross rhythm, take a moment to practice this bell pattern along with quarter notes in the left foot:

The pattern is actually an inversion of our usual so-called “short” bell pattern. If you play the above rhythm starting on beat 2 in the 3/4 example, you'll get the short bell rhythm. It could also be considered a variation on the “long” bell pattern, except they've moved the first note off of the downbeat.

Get the pdf

Note: Here is some actual Guiro music. The bell part, played on a piece of metal here, is something we haven't seen before; it's not the rhythm we're using here. It's kind of difficult to be certain about the beat for awhile here, but you can see some participants clapping Rumba clave— we can assume it's in the 3-2 orientation, since I believe that is normal in folkloric settings. Around 6:20 the lead singer also claps the main pulse while others are clapping clave.


Fred said...

I dig this blog, and for many reasons. Its about tradition: where does (jazz) drumming come from. Not many professional musicians are capable ànd willing to share the knowledge they have.

Just one question about the (coördination) studies: the patterns are quite "dense". As for myself as a drummer, I often find myself playing too many notes in stead of not enough notes. So to be able to play with more "space", is it appropriate to practice like that? For instance practicing three or 7 basic measures, and only one measure with a (slight) embellishment?

Or is the opposite true, and does one have to practice difficult, dense patterns in one flow, in order to be able to leave space out while playing with other musicians?

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks! It's a good question-- I may dedicate an actual post to answering that. What it comes down to is not what you practice, but to listening. If you love a wide range of music, and if your concept of good drumming includes things that are extremely simple/functional-- not as an intellectual idea, but as something you hear-- I think you can work on very difficult stuff without becoming a bad, way-too-busy player.

I'll think about that-- maybe a full treatment of that question coming soon...

Anonymous said...

One thing to note is that the song dictates the direction of the clave in guiro, rumba, etc. You wouldn't walk into a ceremony to play and adopt your drumming differently; the canto or akpwon will do so.

The metal instrument is called a guataca and is commonly played on a garden hoe blade.

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks, anon!