Sunday, April 02, 2017

Page o' coordination: Afro-Peruvian - 01

Let's get it out of the way up front that I know nothing about Afro-Peruvian music— I played a session with John Butler, a Portland guitarist who plays it, and he hipped me to its existence, and that's it. These are just my observations from a little bit of listening. The guitar is central, and sounds to me almost like a fusion of Son and Flamenco. The common meter seems to be ambiguously 6/8 (or 12/8)— the quarter note pulse is stronger than you would normally associate with that meter, and the dotted-quarter note pulse is more felt than played outright— many examples are easier for me to feel in 6/4. The “short” bell pattern found in Cuban music is often used, but Peruvian music (according to artist Gabriel Alegria) is not clave-based:

Being firmly rooted in Africa[...] Afro-Peruvian music has no clave, the underlying five beat pattern in much Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean music. Instead the styles within Afro-Peruvian music have many variations but, like the African-rooted American jazz music, no clave. 

And with a looser structure:

It's not a rule that you have to play festejos exactly the same every time. It has many, many, many variants just as there are variants of swing patterns in a ride cymbal for a [jazz] drummer.

The music was originally played just with a percussion section, but seems very friendly to the use of the drumset— at least in a “modern”/commercial/jazz-oriented format. The ostinato on this page is pilfered directly from a video by David Cornejo, a Peruvian drummer living in New York, and the left hand independence parts are stock rhythms useful for improvising with other forms of this “Afro 6/8” family of playing. You'll also want to pull Cornejo's left hand rhythms from his video below— and check out his other stuff; he has a YouTube channel with a bunch of good videos.

Play the left hand part as a rim click, then drill the entire page using my standard left hand moves, varying the accents and timbre. I would also learn the page in a duple, 6/4 meter— with a quarter note pulse, so the cymbal rhythm would be counted 1&-&3, 4&-&6.

Get the pdf

Here's a link to the Alex Acuña track he's playing along with. Search “Afro-Peruvian”, “Peru negro”, or “festejo” on YouTube for more.

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