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Rhythm of the Week...

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This Week's Lesson:

Lesson Two: Samba and Variations


Lesson Two
More variations on four-four:
Another common, basic variation is to emphasize a bit of "three" feel in the first bar, like so:

G - - d - d g d G - G - g d g d

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-4

The two rest beats after the "G" give the effect of a triplet, the basic unit of 6/8 time. Using that effect in a four-four beat gives it an extra dynamic, the second basic key to world-beat music.
Really, the possibilities are endless. Let's take the feel back to a "two" feel, with a Hi-Lo effect:

G - G - P - P - G - g d - d g d

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-5

Now there's more emphasis on the left-hand beats, "g" becoming "P", a clean sharp stroke accentuated by rests. With the extra rests in the first bar, there is time enough to switch hands for balance:

G - D - P - T - G - g d - d g d

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Samba, Part One:
Now, for fun, let's slide the line left by half a bar (and play both slaps with the lead hand) so that it looks like this:

P - P - G - g d - d g d G - G -

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-6

We're still in "two" feel, but now it's high-low (from P to G). This is the basis of Samba--along with the "world-beat" hitch as discussed above. There are many, many ways to carry this samba feel; the example here is just one possibility. Focus on the high-low intro, and the "d - d" gap in the middle, and it's hard to go wrong. Reduced to the basics, it could be played simply as:

P - P - G - - d - d - d G - - -

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-7

Play around with that one for awhile and a dozen samba beats will arrive smiling, hips rolling.

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Samba, Part Two:
Here are some parts to accompany the above samba rhythm:
First, a basic eight-beat pattern to keep it steady:

P - P d G - G D  

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track2-9

Next, some percussion elements:

                _______ _______ _______ _______
                | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
shaker          x   x x x   x x x   x x x   x x
guiro (scraper) d u d u d u d u d u d u d u d u
clave (sticks)  x   x     x   x   x     x   x
bell (hi-lo):   L   H   H   L L   H   H H   L 

underline=stressed
d=down stroke, u=up stroke

Put it all together and have some fun!

These are only a few of the infinite variations of samba. One of the more basic variations is to reverse the high-low swing of the drum parts, to a low-high feel:

            _______ _______ _______ _______
            | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
            G     d g     D   D   d g(d g d)

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-8


or...       G   G   P   g D   D   d g d g d

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-9

By comparing these two you can see the common elements that gives the samba its distinctive flavor: the low-high swing, and the hitch in the middle [G - G]. (For a look at another samba dynamic at work in a 6/8 rhythm, see the exercise about Tiriba.

The first of these two patterns is essentially the same as a common Nigerian rhythm taught by Olatunji (see below).

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Triple Overtime
This is an original composition that combines the "hitch" feel of a Samba (djembe 1), the complexity of a round (djembes 1 & 2), and the steadying influence of an eight-beat repeated phrase (djembe 3).
Note that in the main samba-like part (djembe 1), the low-high movement is doubled in the second two bars.

                _______ _______ _______ _______
                | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
djembe 1        G D g   P T   D   D P T G D P T
djembe 2          D P T G D P T G D g   P T   D
djembe 3        g d P   g d G D g d P   g d G D

shaker          x x X x x x X x x x X x x x X x
junjun          X   *       *       *       X
        (* = X + k; bass beat plus bell)          
    

djembe 1: mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-10
djembe 2: mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-11
djembe 3: mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track 1-12
shaker: mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-13
junjun: mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-14

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Olatunji (Nigerian) rhythm for Aiye Mi Re, Akiwowo, and Kiya Kiya:

         _______ _______ _______ _______
         | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
         G     d g     D   D   d g

mp3 drum samples Click for sound: RealAudio - Track1-15

Note the similarity to the low-high samba.

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Uruguayan Trance Rhythm
This is a beat used in the latest Trance Dance with great success. It's adapted from Candombe, a traditional trance rhythm of Uruguay taught by Joseph (Pepe) Danza. The effect was very powerful, with an almost instant trance effect. The bass beats come in unusual places (the second beat of the bar), and the three primary drum parts blend in a hypnotic way. Parts 2 and 3 are tricky to learn because the "d G" opening reverses our expectation of how a rhythm begins. The key is to focus on and accentuate that opening "d" as the one-beat. But note that it's the unplayed beat in Part 1.

                _______ _______ _______ _______
                | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
Drum 1:         - g d g - g d g - g d g - g d g 
Drum 2:         d G d g d G d g d G d g D - - - 
Drum 3:         d G - - G - d g D - D - D - - - 
Jun-Jun:        X - - X X - - X X - - X X - - X 
sticks:         x - - - x - - - x - - - x - - - 

Tips:
Part 1: To keep good time, play the silent one as a "ghost" note on the side of the drum with the left or lead hand.
Part 3: The second G departs from strict alternation of hands by beat; but it helps give an overall balance with the final three D's, and gives a certain desired tone quality. The middle D might be varied as a G if desired; but again the repeated bass with the same hand gives a certain repetitive effect hard to achieve by using both hands.
Sticks: The stick part wasn't taught as part of the traditional rhythm. But we've found with the trance dance step we use (from West Africa) that it's helpful to use the regular stick beat as a constant timekeeper. It also induces its own trance effect; as the Australian aborigines do so well with sticks.

Here is Pepe Danza's version of Candombe, with a note about its origins:

"Candombe is a transformation of rhythms that came probably from Nigeria and/or Congo. I would say it is mostly an urban phenomenon, being a dance rhythm used in celebrations and carnival in Uruguay. It is definetly a trance rhythm and we play for hours with many variations. The drums that play it are called TAMBORILES. As in so many afro traditions, it is the interplay of three drums that create the feel. These are called CHICO, PIANO and REPIQUE. There's more parts to candombe. It's incredibly rich and complex!. The original Tamboriles are played with stick and hand, and these are my own adaptations for djembe.

"The basic drum parts are as follows:"

                _______ _______ _______ _______
                | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
Chico           - p t p - p t p - p t p - p t p 
Repique         g p - g p - g p - g p t g - p - 
variation       - p - g p t g p - p - g p - - - 
Piano (jun jun) M - - X - - - - - - - X X - - -   M=muted 
The sticks or clave should be playing 3-2 clave or
                x - - x - - x - - - x - x - - - 

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Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Three

Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Four

Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Five

Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Six

Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Seven

Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Eight

Go to Rhythms of the Week, Lesson Nine

Go to my latest African Drumming Blog


See lots more rhythm notation and drum lessons in my Roots Jam rhythm books, with optional audio files (CD or mp3). And read my latest tips and insights about drumming: African Drumming Blog

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