Thursday, October 08, 2020

Developing New Orleans Second Line Grooves

Here is a sheet of rhythms as well as a handful of methods for building vocabulary and developing feel for a New Orleans Second Line Groove.

The New Orleans sound features a heavy influence from Caribbean, so it's quite common to hear rhythms that are essentially clave patterns with some variations and a different type of swing.  The difference is that these clave rhythms are the basis of the groove, but are not necessarily linked inextricably to the melody as they would be in Cuban music.  For example, listen to Dr. John play "Iko Iko".  The groove is clearly based around a 3-2 son clave, but the vocal phrasing, especially in the verse, sounds pretty 2-3 to me.

The sheet below is going to provide our bass drum parts as well as our snare drum parts.  In many ways this is a bit of a drag and drop sheet, like the Samba Jazz builder.  The first three examples are common bass patterns, which we'll discuss how to use in a moment, and below that are simply clave patterns with some small variations which increase the feeling of syncopation.  We'll use those in both our feet as well as our hands.

So, let's look at some ways we can use these rhythms.  In each example below you'll probably want to play the hi-hat on 2&4.


1.  Play any pattern from the sheet with your bass drum.  On the snare drum play steady 8th notes, and accent each 8th note prior to a bass drum note.  For bass drum notes that are only a quarter note apart I generally wouldn't bother trying to squeeze an accent in between them.  Here are two examples.  The first one is 3-2 Son in the feet, the second is 2-3 Son.


2.  Again, play any bass drum pattern and constant 8ths on the snare drum.  But this time play a different clave as accents on the snare drum.  In the first example below you will see the mambo bass drum pattern with 3-2 Son clave above it on the snare, and in the second example you'll see 2-3 Son in the bass drum with 3-2 Son above it.


3.  Play this sticking RLRR LRRL.  The right hand results in a rhythm called the "Cinquillo".  You can play everything on the snare as in the first two examples, but this also moves around the kit quite well.  Put your right hand on a cowbell or ride cymbal, get the toms involved, etc.  Just get creative with it.  You'll have to experiment a bit with the various bass drum parts as some work better than others.


4.  Another sticking.  This time RRLR RLRL.  This is generally associated with Johnny Vidacovich.  It works the same as number 3.  Orchestrate it around the kit and be careful with the bass drum part as they don't all sound great.  This sticking works particularly well with the mambo bass drum part.


5.  Use either of the two methods from numbers 1 or 2, but rather than play constant 8th notes on the snare drum, just play the clave pattern on the snare while playing the jazz ride cymbal pattern.


6.  Some options for rolls:
  •         Play a roll of beat 4 of the second bar
  •         If there is an accent on the & of 3 or the & of 4 place the roll there instead
  •         If there is no accent on beat 1 you can continue the roll from the previous bar through beat one and until you reach the next accent.

The swing feel in this style of music is a different beast altogether.  It's not as triplety as bop swing, but it's not exactly straight either.  As always, your best best is going to be to listen a bunch.  The go-to tune that most people recommend is The Meters "Hey Pocky Way".  You could also check out some Dr. John.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Unaccompanied Solo - Edu Ribeiro, "Diddle Diddle"

Continuing on with another unaccompanied solo, this time by Edu Ribeiro.  This piece comes from Edu's 2017 album Na Calada do Dia.

A few weeks ago I started to transcribe it and by strange coincidence the next day I received an e-mail from Edu's mailing list which contained a download link to a PDF of the solo. But I decided to carry on with my transcription, anyway, as the recording has a few small differences to the score, which is also lacking some of the articulations heard in the recording.  Also, the stickings are written using D's and E's, the common way in Brazilian Portuguese.

So, here's my version of it.  If you'd like the original from Edu himself head over to his website, and sign up for his mailing list.






Monday, September 14, 2020

Kenny Washington Unaccompanied Solo

To the best of my knowledge there's not a whole lot of literature out there for unaccompanied solo drum set.  Admittedly I've never looked that hard as I've not often had the need for it, but prior to lockdown I had a student whose school music teacher was often asking to hear unaccompanied solos.  So we did Max Roach's "The Drum Also Waltzes", some variations on Nate Smith's "Pocket Change", and she wrote some material of her own.  And then I quickly started to run out of suggestions, or at least suggestions that I thought were cool enough to be worth spending our lesson time on.

Enter Kenny Washington.  I know the term "musical drummer" gets thrown around far too much these days, but I'm going to use it anyway here to refer to Kenny.  Even when he is demoing a drum set as he is in the video below, Kenny is always making music, as opposed to simply ramming notes.  There's always a clear shape, structure, and purpose to his playing, which I really appreciate and enjoy.  The end result is that those drum demos end up sounding very much like an unaccompanied drum solo that might actually be worth performing, s
o I've taken the liberty of transcribing it.

Now, for over six years, That Drum Blog has been full of free content for everyone to enjoy and learn from, and that's not going to change.  But, in addition to all of the free content that I will continue to provide, I will also be posting some larger, more detailed projects for you to purchase, this Kenny Washington solo being one of them.

In the coming days there will be payment links set up for automated instant downloads, but until I get all that infrastructure in place we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way.  If you'd like a PDF of the solo below please send $3 via PayPal to adamosmianski@hotmail.com and I'll get you a copy within 24 hours.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Transcription - Wilson das Neves, "Deixa Isso Para Lá"

One of the great Brazilian drummers whose work we have yet to explore on this blog is Wilson das Neves.  Besides being a great drumset player, das Neves was also a percussionist, singer, and composer, and worked in the realms of samba, bossa nova, and samba-jazz

Though he died in 2017, das Neves remained active for the duration of his life, appearing on the Roberta Sá album Braseiro which we've looked at before, and in the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics in 2016.

In 1968, das Neves released an album together with Elza Soares entitled simply Baterista: Wilson das Neves.  On it is the piece "Deixa Isso Para Lá" which is transcribed below.  While it does include the rest of the band, the bulk of the tune is a drumset and vocal duet between the two leaders.






As we've recently been talking about rhythmic direction in telecoteco and how some of the samba-jazz drummers of the 60s and 70s were liberal in their treatment of it it's interesting to note that das Neves actually adheres quite strictly to the rhythmic direction in this recording, (and nearly every other one I've heard).  His rim clicks play very much like a tamborim part from a samba.  I'm presuming this is because das Neves had a background in traditional batucada-style drumming and spent time in one or more escolas.  With that in mind, check out the extra beat in the middle of page 3.

In old jazz recordings it's not completely uncommon to hear what may sound like a bar of odd time, or an extra beat.  Usually, this is from an old-school tape edit where two takes are being spliced together.  However, that doesn't appear to be the case here.  Rather, I think it's more likely the Wilson is playing those quarter notes in the subsequent bars to see where Elza is going to phrase her melodic line in an attempt to stay on the correct side of the rhythm.

Also, note that at the beginning of many of the phrases you can clearly here das Neves playing an entrada before carrying on.

Finally, if you speak Portuguese, or know someone who does, it's worth checking out this short documentary on the making of Baterista: Wilson das Neves.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Steve Smith Flam Exercises

Just a bit of a re-blog today.  I recently stumbled across a video of Steve Smith going through one of his warmup routines, which essentially is just various combinations of flam taps.  It's fun to play through, and I thought my students my enjoy it, so I put it all on one sheet so I could share it with them, and you.  The video is below.  Drop me an e-mail if you'd like a PDF.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Solo Transcription - Stan Levey, "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"

My buddy, Pedro Velasco, from Machimbombo, has been posting a lot of transcription videos lately and asked me to collaborate with him on one.

Here's Stan Levey and Lee Konitz trading fours on "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To", from the album Originalee Konitz.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Stick Control with Flams

I could pretty much just leave you with the title.  Because that's exactly what I'm suggesting: play Stick Control as flams.  At least the first few pages.

Why?  Because it incorporates all four common strokes, and is therefore a great way to practice them naturally, using a lot of muscle memory that you already have built in.  We're used to keeping grace notes low, bringing them up for primary notes, playing primary notes as downstrokes in preparation for grace notes, etc. etc.  So let's use that to our advantage.

Let's break a couple of them down as we did when we looked at how to practice flam rudiments.

For example, number one is just a single stroke roll.  That will now become hand to hand flams.  Think about what each hand will be doing individually.  The right hand starts with a primary note which will be a down stroke so that it is low and ready to play the next grace note.  That grace note will be an upstroke so you're ready for the next primary note.  Therefore our right hand will play DOWN, UP, DOWN, UP, repeatedly.  The left hand will do the same, but starting with an upstroke.

Let's skip now to number 3, which is a double stroke roll, meaning we'll play two right flams followed by two left flams.  The first stroke will be a full stroke as it is a primary note followed by another primary note.  That second primary note, however, will be a down stroke in preparation for the grace note that follows.  The grace note will be a tap since it's followed by another grace note, and the second grace note will be an up stroke to get ready to circle back around to the first primary note again.  So, in this example our right hand will play FULL, DOWN, TAP, UP.

So, as you go through each one take a moment to think about what each hand is playing.  Chances are you won't find it terribly difficult because as I mentioned earlier a lot of the motions will be built in through muscle memory anyway.  But putting your focus on it will improve your stroke control in other applications outside of flams.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Survival and Phrasing at Extreme Tempos

I recently received an email from a reader of the blog asking about very fast ride cymbal playing, specifically Kenny Washington's approach on this tune:



Although it’s very common, regardless of the tempo, for a drummer to play “1, 2&, 3 4&” (Spang, Spang-a, Lang, Spang-a, Lang, etc.), the most important thing is actually the quarter note pulse keeping time.  Check out some Jimmy Cobb if you haven’t already.  Even at medium and slow tempos sometimes all he’ll play is quarter notes, leaving out the “&s” all together (Freddie Freeloader is the classic example).  At breakneck speeds such at “Jubilee”, this can be very helpful to remember, as playing quarter notes is an excellent way to survive that tempo for an entire tune.  Also, Spang, Spang-a, Lang non-stop through an entire tune at this tempo might be a little bit too dense and get in the way of the blistering fast piano lines, though I have little doubt that Kenny could do it if he wanted to.

So, what I think it boils down to is that it’s likely Kenny is attempting to do two things here:

1. Conserve energy
2. Leave space for Bill (probably more so this one)

Two further things worthy of note, though:

1. Even when Kenny is only playing quarter notes, beats 2 and 4 have a little more “weight” to them.  It’s almost not even an accent.  Those notes just somehow feel a little bit “bigger” or “heavier”.  So even when you’re not playing the “a-lang”, that emphasis on 2 and 4 is still present on the ride cymbal.  

2.  When Kenny does play three notes in a row on the ride cymbal it’s almost always on beats 2 and/or 4, where it would naturally be if he was playing spang, spang-a, lang.

Here is a sheet with various phrasings of Spang-a Lang in amongst a steady quarter note pulse.  Push the tempo just a bit past your comfort zone and with your hi-hat on beats 2 and 4, play each example on the ride cymbal 4, 8, or 16 times.


As you get more comfortable try improvising.  Play the quarter notes with the "weight" on 2 and 4, and then start peppering in the “&s” where you see fit.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Kenny Washington Inverted Roll

Here's a quick little phrase that I've been playing for years, but for some reason never thought to share with you wonderful people.  It's an idea I got from Kenny Washington that is built on an inverted roll.

An inverted roll is simply a roll in which the first note of each double stroke is on the "&", rather than the downbeat.  So, instead of: RRLL RRLL....  you'd play RLLR RLLR

Kenny, however, leaves off that single note on the downbeat and simply starts straight in with the double strokes on the & of 1, which gives the whole thing a nice kick.  It's worth trying it in different parts of the bar, as well as different parts of the phrase, though it works particularly well on the & of 1, and the & of 2.

I'm toying with the idea of tying the blog into YouTube a little bit more, so there is a video down below demonstrating this idea.



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

3, 5, 7 Applied to Triplet Systems for Syncopation

That sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but we are simply combining two different ideas we've previously looked at on this blog.

A few years ago we explored a concept implying 3/8, 5/8 and 7/8 over 4/4 to play longer, more fluid phrases that extend over the barline.  At the time we were using this idea in the context of comping.  If you haven't yet read that post, you can check it out here.  Today we're going to take that same concept and apply it to our soloing practice.  

Here, again, are the various phrases written out.  We're now going to use them with the triplet systems from the previous post, which you can check out here.  Apply all four systems from the last post to each of the examples below.  As I mentioned the first time around, resist the urge to actually count in 3, 5, or 7.  We are just using these numbers as a means to create new ideas in 4/4.


Another interpretation that we looked at last time is to add a "skip" note.  In each grouping of 3 play the first two notes instead of just the first note.  Again, try all four systems from the previous post with these ideas.


As this is a soloing concept a great place to start is by trading fours with yourself.  Each of the examples above natural resolve after an odd number of bars, so create multiple different phrases by starting on different bars and repeating back to the top.  For example:

In the 3 note grouping play measures:
  • 1, 2, 3, 1
  • 2, 3, 1, 2
  • 3, 1, 2, 3

In the 5 note grouping play measures:
  • 1, 2, 3, 4
  • 2, 3, 4, 5
  • 3, 4, 5, 1
  • 4, 5, 1, 2
  • 5, 1, 2, 3
In the 7 note grouping play measures:
  • 1, 2, 3, 4
  • 2, 3, 4, 5
  • 3, 4, 5, 6
  • 4, 5, 6, 7
  • 5, 6, 7, 1
  • 6, 7, 1, 2
  • 7, 1, 2, 3

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Triplet Systems for Syncopation

Let's look at a few classic interpretations of Ted Reed's Syncopation.  These are great on the pad as a general stick control method, and once you orchestrate them on the kit they are great for developing soloing ideas.

Most people head straight to page 37 or 38 (depending on the version of the book you have), which works perfectly fine.  It offers plenty of variety and is great for developing sight reading skills.  However, when these concepts are new to a student, I prefer to start them on page 33 or 34 (again, depending on your version) as each line is contains only a one bar rhythm that is repeated four times.

Here I've just grabbed a few examples at random for the purpose of demonstration, but you should try it from page 33 all the way through to "Exercise 8" on page 45.

For each system we're going to play triplets, and read the rhythms on the page as accents.  Notes on the downbeats are obviously accented on the downbeat, and notes on the upbeat are accented on the third partial of the triplet.  You'll never play the second partial of the triplet in any of these examples.

The first system is to simply play with alternating sticking.  Do it off the left as well as the right.



In some of the later examples you'll find three or more unaccented notes following an accent.  In this case it's fun to add in a paradiddle starting on the accent.



Next, we'll play the unaccented parts of the triplet as double strokes (RLL, RRL, LRR, LLR).  Sometimes this will cause the sticking to naturally flip to the opposite hand in each bar and sometimes it will stay on the same hand.  When it stays the same be sure to play it off the other side as well.  If you find a beat of the bar with no accents in it just play alternating sticking, as in the third example below.




Final, we'll go back to alternating sticking, but add rolls on the notes that are not accented.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Transcription - Milton Banana, "Doralice"

A little while back when we looked at the Milton Banana transcription of "Cidade Vazia" I mentioned that some of the jazz influenced Brazilian drummers of the 1960s didn't always follow a specific rhythmic direction, and I hypothesized that part of this may have simply ignorance on their part.  While that could potentially be true for some drummers, it's clearly not the case with Milton Banana.  On the album Getz/Gilberto Banana puts on a clinic on how to properly improvise within the confines of rhythmic direction.  And he's doing it on nothing more than a hi-hat.  We've seen João Gilberto using minimal percussion to great effect before when we looked at Sonny Carr.

If you look at the first and third bar of each line you'll notice that with only two exceptions Banana always starts the phrase with two 8th notes.  In the second and fourth bars of each line there is no instance where he plays a note on the downbeat.  Of course telecoteco goes deeper than just being on the beat one bar, then off the beat the next, but this simply highlights the fact that Banana is staying true to that rhythmic direction.

Also note how subtle Banana is with his improvisation.  He's improvising quite a bit.  On very few occasions does he play the same phrase twice in a row.  But he's never more than a note or two away from a stock telecoteco pattern; an 8th note turned into two 16th notes here, a note omitted there.

The transcription below shows only the accent pattern, but this is filled in with 16th notes through the entire song.  As with the other transcriptions of this style that we've done try orchestrating in different ways around the kit, and with different patterns in your other limbs.  A few ideas to get you started:


  • With brushes, play the transcription with the 16th notes filled in in your right hand, and sweep with your left hand
  • Play 16th notes on the hi-hat and read the transcription on a rim click
  • Play 16th notes on the hi-hat and read the transcription with both hand, sometimes playing a rim click, and sometimes playing an accent on the hi-hat.  This works particularly well when playing the bass drum just on beat two.  We saw Cuca Teixeira do this in one of the first ever posts on this blog
  • Read the transcription on the ride cymbal, and:



Thursday, July 02, 2020

Pandeiro Transcription - Bira Presidente, "Vai Lá, Vai Lá"

The last two pandeiro transcription posts owe a whole lot to the guy in today's transcription, Bira Presidente.  Bira is their pandeiro player, and one of the founding members, of Fundo de Quintal, which is generally considered to be the first pagode group.  

Fundo de Quintal pioneered the use of the tantan and repique de mão in samba, and groups have been modeling themselves on Quintal since the 80s.  Bira's style of pandeiro playing was also incredibly new and unique when Quintal first hit the scene in the late 70s.  Much of the partido alto style of playing pandeiro (which is not the same as the partido alto rhythm that most drumset players learn) can be traced back to Bira, including the last two transcriptions on this blog.  Let's look at a few of the Bira trademarks before moving on to the entire transcription.

This first groove is a Bira trademark.  In today's transcription he plays it as the main material throughout the tune.  There is a second pandeiro on this recording, though, that is playing consistent 16th notes throughout.  In the last two transcriptions the players played 16th notes in the verses, and this Bira groove in the chorus.

It's commonly played like this:





Or with a small variation, like this:






Although we won't see it in today's transcription, I should mention this other groove which can also be played a couple of different ways:









This groove is often called "partido alto" (again, not the same as the partido alto rhythm) and will often serve as an intro to a tune.  It's not uncommon to hear this groove being played in the verses, and Bira's groove above being played in the chorus; or you may hear both of these played at the same time with each pandeiro panned hard to opposite sides of the mix which creates a very cool chatter.

Finally, there are two variations that Bira is credited with that can be dropped in either of the above grooves.  Look for both of these in the transcription below.













Thursday, June 25, 2020

Tony Williams-Style Flam Drags

Calling these "Tony Williams-Style Flam Drags" is potentially a bit unfair.  After all, Tony isn't the first or only person to play flam drags on the kit.  Actually, the ideas below seems to be quite in vogue at the moment. But Tony probably is one of the earlier players to split them around the kit in this fashion.  I have some students digging deep into Tony at the moment, and I've also been working on some transcriptions for a scholarly article being written at the University of Oregon, and have seen these flam drags pop up quite a few times.

Your basic flam drag, if you aren't already familiar, is a three-note phrase.  A flam, followed by a double stroke, and then a tap with alternating sticking, which we can group as triplets, or 8th/16th notes.

Another common way to play flam drags is to keep the rhythm the same, but change the sticking to that of a Swiss Army Triple.  RRL or LLR.  Even though the rhythm is exactly the same, the sticking gives it a different character.  This one, in particular, sits very nicely on the kit and is a lot of fun to play.

And if we change the sticking one more time, as well as the accent pattern, we get another interesting phrase that I've heard Tony do quite a bit.  This one is also quite common in the drum corp scene, and I believe they gave it one of those goofy names, but I don't recall what it is off the top of my head.

As always, these are just the stock versions of this rudiment and it's sticking variations.  Get creative and spend some time voicing it around the kit and in different parts of the bar.


Friday, June 12, 2020

Pandeiro transcription - Paulinho Félix, "Procura-se Um Amor"

As you might have guessed from my recent posting I've been playing a lot of pandeiro lately, specifically nylon pandeiro, which is a beast in it's own right compared to playing hide pandeiro.

This time around we're looking at the playing of Paulinho Félix.  In this tune Paulinho employs a lot of material pioneered by pandeiro legend Bira Presidente, who we'll look at in the next post.  However, he's taken Bira's language and expanded/modernized it which, again, we'll chat about soon.

If you followed along with the last pandeiro post, you should notice a lot of similarities in the shape of the tune: constant 16th notes in the verses, broken partido alto style playing in the choruses, hemiola used to create tension, and the almost obligatory triplet phrase.

Thiago Viégas, however, kept things a little bit tamer for the sake of demonstration where as Félix gets a little busier.  There's some fun stuff in here and the tempo is a little brighter, so it should be a little bit more of a workout if you're playing along at home.





Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Mel Lewis Latin Groove

Here is a latin groove I've heard Mel Lewis play a few times.  This is very much a jazz-latin groove as it doesn't really stick to deep rooted practices of any particular rhythmic tradition.  And that's OK.  I love to nerd out on said rules and find one what makes various types of music tick, but that doesn't mean grooves like the one below are any less valid.  If anything, it's more true to the jazz tradition.  Jazz has always been a music of fusions; melding elements from various cultures to create something new.

Here Mel is playing your standard ride cymbal and hi-hat pattern with straight 8th notes.  The rim and tom voicings remind of an agogo pattern that you'd hear in old Brazilian recordings of singers like Carmen Miranda.  Whatever it is, or isn't, it's a cool and versatile groove worth checking out.



Friday, May 29, 2020

Piano comping on the kit

We're often told to listen to other instruments as we can learn a lot from them.  But not many people ever say what it is we can learn from those instruments.  Well, one thing that we drummers can take from harmonic instruments like piano or guitar is comping ideas.  After all, they're acCOMPanying the soloist just as we are, so why should their rhythmic ideas be seen as any less valid than that of a drummer?  Simply put, they shouldn't, because they aren't.

Here I've transcribed Bill Charlap comping behind trumpeter Brian Lynch on the album Brian Lynch Meets Bill Charlap.  Joe Farnsworth is on drums, so there's plenty of other great material on the record for us to check out at some point, but for now we'll stick with Bill.  I've simply written out the rhythmic ideas of his comping, and what we're left with is a sheet that looks very much like a page out of The Art of Bop Drumming, but in a less exercise-y, more musical form.




We can use this sheet in many of the same ways as AoB, or Syncopation.  Here are a few.  Play a stock ride cymbal pattern, and hi-hats on 2 and 4 unless otherwise noted.


  1. Play it with your left hand.  If you're new to this type of playing or independence maybe start with just two or four bars at a time.  Imagine, or write in, repeats.
  2. Play the whole thing with your left hand, right foot, and left foot individually
  3. Alternate notes between two or three different voices
  4. Play downbeats on the bass drum, and upbeats on the snare drum
  5. Any time you see two or more consecutive 8th notes play them all on the snare until you reach the last note which you then play on the bass drum
  6. Play any 8th notes on the snare, and anything longer on the bass drum, or bass drum doubled in the right hand, regardless of where you are in the ride pattern
  7. Improvise.  Play all the notes where they are rhythmically, but interpret the chart however you see fit.
These are, of course, just a few of the countless ways to approach this sheet, or any others like it.  Todd Bishop, over at Cruise Ship Drummer! has about a million and one different approaches to using this type of material, Robert Breithaupt has a nice list, and there are countless other sites and books offering different approaches

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Transcription - Grupo Balacobaco, "Fotos Antiguas"

As promised, some pandeiro material.  I transcribed this one from a video on the Aprendendo Percussão YouTube channel.  Thiago Víega does a playalong with a recording by the pagode group Grupo Balacobaco to show typical ways of playing in this style of samba.

Notice that during the verses he is playing constant 16th notes with a muted sound on beat one and an open sound on beat two, similar to how a hide pandeiro would be played.  Then, in the chorus, he moves to the more broken partido alto style of playing.  While this isn't a rule, it is a very common structure to follow in this style of music.

A few other things worthy of note:

* In the verse section you'll see the "1, e, a" rhythm played with an open bass tone fairly often, which mimics the third surdo.

* The chorus always starts with an entrada.  Throughout the chourus the first bar of the rhythmic cycle has sounds on the second and four 16th note, but at the top of the phrase he starts with 8th notes.  See this post for a deeper explanation.

* The "fills" in the chorus section are almost always heavily syncopated, playing on "e, a" or "e, &, a".  This creates a lot of tension, and also flows nicely back into the partido alto.

Here is the transcription, followed by a video of Thiago playing it, as well as the track itself.







Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pandeiro notation

When I first started learning how to play pandeiro I had a couple of DVDs and books that, despite having great content, employed some unnecessarily complicated notation.  I continued to use this style in my own transcribing/writing until recently when I saw some videos by Junior and Thiago Viégas of the Aprendendo Percussão channel on YouTube.  They use a simpler notation style that is much easier to read.  Most of their channel is in Portuguese, so I thought I'd give you a little breakdown as I have a few pandeiro transcriptions in the works that I'm going to start posting here.

There are four basic sounds, each of which can be played two ways; with the fingertips or top part of the hand, and the thumb or heel of the hand.

The jingle sound is notated with a headless stem.  This was the biggest improvement on the old style of notation.  The jingles get played a lot as they often act as a ride cymbal.  Having no notehead allows us to see clearly where the jingles are being played, and therefore how the drum is moving, but also makes the other notes stand out more clearly.  This one looks pretty strange isolated like this, but it will make more sense when you see it in context.

Jingle with fingertips


Jingle with heel

The bass sound is depicted with a standard notehead.  To mute it the notehead is placed in parentheses.


Open bass with fingertips



Open bass with thumb
 


Muted bass with fingertips



Muted bass with thumb



The slap sound is most often played with an open-handed slap, leading with the fingertips.  It can also be played leading with the heel but it's more difficult to get clean, sharp slap, so you won't see it that often.

Slap leading with fingers



Slap leading with heel


Here are the various sounds in context.  First, the simplest way to play samba on the pandeiro, and the pattern that most people learn first:



The pattern starts with the lower part of the hand and never stops alternating, so the drum just continues back and forth.  We can keep this same motion, but add a slap before the open bass sound, emulating a ripique:



One more without having to change directions; add an open bass with the fingertips just before the muted bass sound on beat one:



Now, the first direction change.  Technically, in terms of the different tones, this one is the same as the previous example.  But here we play the pickup note with the thumb.  This is a more traditional way to play, and is also more common on nylon pandeiro.  The version above is a more modern way of playing, popularized by players like Marcos Suzano.



Finally, here's a two-bar phrase that incorporates some third surdo language.



In the transcription I am going to post in a few days you'll see a different style of playing with a lot more syncopation that does not require the drum to be in constant motion.