Sunday, November 25, 2018

Transcription: Roberto Silva - Ana Maria

First, a service announcement: I'm heading to Germany in a couple of days, so posting will be rather light. I'll be visiting some teachers and drummers in Berlin and Dresden, and showing them some Cymbal & Gong cymbals. No doubt there will be a couple of posts on this site, but most of the action will be on my Twitter and Facebook pages. If you're in Berlin or Dresden email me and I'll let you know where and when the meetings are— come meet me and play these great cymbals.

I'll try to get a few posts in before I go:

Here is one of my favorite Brazilian drummers, Roberto (or Robertinho) Silva playing the solo section of Ana Maria by Wayne Shorter, from the album Native Dancer. The transcription begins at 3:24 in the recording.

Silva is using five tom toms actively, which makes this transcription look somewhat ugly at times. There is not a lot of repetition happening, and not a lot of independence— he's not playing with an ostinato mentality. Most American drummers, when they learn to play a samba, set-and-forget the feet and play independent stuff with their hands over the top of it. They get locked into the ostinato. Here the bass drum is more interactive with the hands. Silva is more about conducting phrases than maintaining a repetitive groove. There's clearly a slow samba feel throughout, but Silva doesn't have to directly state it every second to maintain it. It reminds me of Milton Banana's approach here.

I was rehearsing this tune recently, and found it difficult to do anything with it. It doesn't just play itself. It's a useful exercise to compare the drumming on this recording with every other combo version of the tune on YouTube. Most people who attempt it are talented college students or professionals. A lot of the drummers play it with a steady groove; a lot of them stick very close to the melody, and the arrangement elements in the real book chart. Many of them double time the feel as soon as they can get away with it. Few (if any) of them are as bold and interesting dynamically as Silva. Or as deeply grooving, or as free. Silva's approach just seems fundamentally different.

It's not just the drummers' fault if these other versions are uninteresting— the rest of the band needs to listening and playing (or be willing to play) bold dynamics for the drumming to work. If they're just going to sit there and be annoyed with the drummer for playing “too loud” during that part, it's not going to happen. Nor if they just turn up their amp and leave it there the first time you get loud. We need to train them better through our playing.

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