Category : Chants & Rhythms

Examples of creating a rhythmic phrase pattern and the examination of its compositional parts.

Triple Chant in 13 #2 (LLLL1)

I had a great time playing and teaching this chant as it came out a lot more organic than I first intended. There will be more on the word “organic” later. The things to notice are how the kick and snare mirror each other. The phrases are identical. This was highly influenced by the music of James Brown. “Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud” is a reference now that I think about it. I listened to that cut a lot as a very young boy watching the turntable spin as the funk took me over. Boom, bap, bap, boom, bap is how “Say It Loud” begins. Boom, boom, bap, bap is how this one begins! The pedaled hat/ride helps to establish the landmarks between kick and snare. There are many areas to consider where the spaces occur which is the center theme of all chants. The point is to always keep track of the shape in order to keep place and make music. One more point is to realize how easy it is to slip into a duple feel while learning this chant. It can be played in duple with the slightest shift in feel so be aware of keeping the triple feel bounce.

Duple Chant in 5 #5

The chant begins with a pedaled hat and kick. The hat and ride keep the pulse on opposite ends. The first snare lands on the “a” of beat 2. Once that is established, everything takes shape. Tempo changes dramatically shift the feel of this particular chant. The slower the tempo results in a funkier feel. The faster tempo results in a robotic feel. It takes two measures to get back to the top of the chant. While improvising, as with all chants, it’s always best to keep the chant going mentally. Physically, by keeping the pedaled hat constant, it’s almost impossible to lose place as long as the ride cymbal is always opposite the hat. Again, Duple Chant in 5 #5 may sound simple, however strong focus and relaxation can help pull this off seamlessly.

Cascara 1 & 2

Two patterns are used in traditional and contemporary Afro-Cuban music deriving from sacred and secular folkloric traditions. The timbalero (solo percussionist) plays these patterns. Over time, this adapted to the full drum kit. The name “Cascara” refers to these patterns being played on the shell of timbales or the rim of the floor tom. Today, Cascara refers to the rhythm itself. The thing to pay attention to as with Son and Rumba Clave are the distinct differences with how the Cascara fits with each Clave. For example, Son Clave pivots on the “and” of 2. Rumba Clave pivots on the “a” of 2. Playing this very slowly will give you the distinct difference. Notice how the Clave is played with the side stick on the snare rim and the Cascara is played on the cowbell, hi hat or ride cymbal. The kick drum is the same for Cascara 1 & 2. It fits between the Clave beats creating a very funky vibe.

Son & Rumba Clave

Legendary Cuban Drummer, Ignacio Berroa, said “Clave is a pattern and a feel around which all the parts of the music has to fit. It’s like a guide that will tell you how to play this music.” There are 2 claves. Son clave and Rumba clave. With Son clave the third beat falls on beat 4. With Rumba clave the third beat falls on the and of beat 4. You can play each clave 3, 2 or 2, 3 meaning the first three beats in the first measure and the last two in the second measure or vice versa. When accompanying music, the melody tells you which type of clave to play. The opening performance switches between Son and Rumba 2,3 claves. The lesson demonstrates Son and Rumba clave at 80, 120 and 140BPM.