Saturday, July 24, 2021

Two-handed Mambo Bell Patterns

This was shown to me by an excellent percussionist here in London by the name of Tristan Butler.  It's a great way to vary the orchestration of some common salsa rhythms.

Probably the most common "ride" pattern when orchestrating salsa music on the drumset is cascara:


This would traditionally be played on the shell of a timbale.  A drumset player would use the ride cymbal, or the shell of a floor tom.

The left hand often then plays clave on a rim click, or would emulate the congas with a combination of rim sounds and toms.

This is a very common, functional, and effective orchestration.  But at the same time it leaves our hands pretty busy, and doesn't leave us much capacity to play other parts of traditional salsa arrangements, such other bell patterns.

But if we leave out the conga pattern or clave, the cascara still carries the groove and a hand is freed up a to play another pattern.  Tristan tells me this is a common orchestration, as the bongo player is often the first person to be cut when the ensemble needs to be smaller.

So now, let's move the cascara pattern to our left hand, and use our right hand to play some of the mambo bell patterns that the bongo player would have played.  This can be a real roast if you spent years playing cascara in your right hand.  But it's a great sound, and a fun challenge.


My personal favorite sound is with two bells: cascara on a smaller bell, and the mambo pattern on a larger mambo bell.  However, if you only have one, or even no cowbells your can put the cascara pattern on your hi-hat with your left hand, and play the mambo pattern on your lone bell, or even the ride cymbal.

The examples above are common combinations, but I believe you can play pretty much any of the first bars and follow them up with any of the second bars for variety.

As you work on this, bear in mind that both the cascara pattern and the mambo bells patterns are directional, just like the clave.  The sheet above is written in 2-3, so if you want to play 3-2 just start with the second bar of any of the patterns and follow it with the first bar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Three Camps in flam accents, flam taps, and pataflaflas

Here's a fun arrangement of The Three Camps that I came up with a few weeks back.

The five stroke rolls from the original become flam accents, and the eleven stroke rolls become flam taps.  When you get to the second and third camps with the pickup notes we're still going to play flam taps where the long roll would be, but in order to turn it around we'll cut it short by an 8th note and make the turnaround a pataflafla.  Doing this puts us on the opposite hand on the repeats which is an added bonus.

The whole thing follows the exact structure of the original with the exception of the final bar which I wrote just to make it a little more interesting.

Have fun.  Drop me an e-mail if you'd like a PDF.



Friday, May 28, 2021

Another "Puh-Duh-Duh" exercise

As promised, here's some more pad business to enjoy outside.

We did one of these "puh-duh-duh" exercises awhile back.  I like this sticking.  It rolls off the hands nicely and makes for a relaxed warm-up.

This time though, we're going to add some paradiddles into the fold, making it more difficult on a few levels.  Not only do we have to deal with the gear change between triplets and 16th notes in general, but often we're moving swiftly between double strokes at the triplet rate and 16th note rate.


Play the whole thing as written, with no accents.  Then for a few variations, try keeping everything low, but accenting the single notes of the puh-duh-duh's, like so:


And also, with an accent on every beat, regardless of the sticking, like so:

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Stick Control Diddle System

We're coming into that time of year where I spend a lot more time out on the back porch with a pad in front of me just working the hands, writing exercises, and playing along to music.  So is here a system for Stick Control that is simple concept, but quickly becomes quite the workout both in terms of chops and brain power.

Awhile back we applied flams to Stick Control.  This is a similar concept that applys double strokes.  The basic system is below, with all the 16th notes played as double strokes:


From here simply add the stickings from the first few pages of Stick Control.  So, for example, number one will look like this:


Once we get past the single strokes we end up getting three and four strokes on one hand.  Number three (which is paradiddles), for example, will look like this:


After number 13, when the patterns become four beats long instead of just two, is when the real mental game comes in.  Here's what number 14 will look like, for example:


This will work all the way through number 72, so that should keep you busy for awhile.  More nerdy pad stuff coming this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Samba Invertido, aka "A batida do 'Tamanduá'" ("The 'Tamanduá' beat")

This is a very cool groove that I've been enjoying for many years and have been meaning to write about for almost as long.  I'm pretty sure it was developed by Hamilton de Holanda.

I first heard it in 2007 when I went to Brazil and picked up the first album by de Holanda's now famous quintet.  The album is called Brasilianos, and the groove came up in the song "Pra Sempre".  It only appears for a few bars at a time at the end of the first A section.  You'll find it  in the melody at 0:16 and 0:58, and many more times throughout the solos and out head.  Marcio Bahia is on drums.



Two years later, in 2009, de Holanda's quintet released a new album, called Brasilianos 2, and the same rhythm was on a very beautiful, and very funky tune called "Tamanduá".  Within the first few bars I recognized it as "that cool groove from 'Pra Sempre'".  Except this time an entire piece had been composed around it.  Again, Marcio Bahia is on drums, and he includes a few different variations on the groove.





Bahia orchestrates it a few different ways in this live version as well.


So what's going on here?  The answer is actually right in front of us, though cleverly hidden.  It didn't jump out to me until I saw Hamilton de Holanda's own chart for "Tamanduá".  Beneath the title the style marking said "Samba Invertido", which translates "inverted samba", and it smacked me in the face.


If you keep up with my regular postings on samba and Brazilian music, you might already know that a common telecoteco rhythm looks like this:


This rhythm is directional, meaning that depending on the composition it could be played as you see it above, or the two bars can be swapped so the cycle starts on beat one of the second bar.

But, if we start on beat two of the second bar (or "invert" it), we end up with this:


Which just so happens to be exactly what is being played in the examples above.  "Tamanduá" adds an additional layer of disorientation by starting on a pick up note, like so:


Edu Ribeiro has played this groove a few times as well, putting his own subtle spin on it.  The first was in 2011 when, Jota P., a sax/flute player from Hermeto Pascoal's band released a self-titled solo album.  The track "Que Fase!" features the groove.




And finally, in 2019, Hamilton de Holanda released a record with a new quartet featuring guitarist Daniel Santiago from his quintet, Thiago Espírito Santo on bass (son of Arismar do Espírito Santo, and occasional sub in the HH quintet), and Edu Ribeiro on drums.  The album, Harmonize, is one of de Holanda's finest in my opinion, and features a new rendition of "Tamanduá".




This groove is quite a specific thing, so I wouldn't recommend dropping it willy-nilly into your next bossa gig.  But it presents it's own challenges that are a lot of fun to work though and might give you some new creative ideas.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises in Four-Note Groupings ala Bill Stewart

Last week I received more e-mails requesting PDFs than I have in a long time.  It seems many of you really enjoyed the various Elvin inspired exercises.  I've been enjoying them too, so I kept going with them.

This time around I've taken the quarter note triplet exercises, and experimented with playing groupings of four notes.  Because there are only three notes in the bar, the four note phrases will roll over the barline, and resolves tidily after four bars.

Starting on the beat looks like this:





While starting on the second note looks like this:





Bill Stewart does this quite often to great effect.  You can see one example of it here on the blog in the transcription of "Metamorphosis".

Adding this variable to the mix means that the possibilities are pretty much endless in terms of voicings, but I came up with three simple ideas to get you started.

2&2
Pick any two voices, and play two of each: SSBB; HHSS; BBHH, etc.



AABA
Pick any two voices and treat one as A and one as B: BBSB; SSBS; HHSH, etc.



ABAC
Use all three voices and treat one as A, one as B, and one as C: BSBH; SHSB; HBHS, etc.

Friday, May 07, 2021

Elvin-ish Quarter Note Triplet Exercises

If you've listened to any Elvin at all you'll almost surely know that, in addition to the sounds we explored in the last two posts, quarter note triplets are a big part of Elvin's sound.

Because we'll still be playing three notes for every two beats, we can use all the same voicing options we did on the two inner triplet exercises.  If we start on the beat, then there's really only one note different in the whole thing: the first non-ride cymbal note will be on the downbeat, rather than the second partial of the triplet.


I've written it out again, however, with both the two and three voice versions on one page because A) it's easier to visualize if you're new to this, and B) to emphasize the placement of these notes, as it's far too common that this: 

Gets played like this: 


And for a whole other set of options we can leave the ride cymbal alone, but shift all of the comping notes an 8th note later.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Elvin Jones' Inner Triplet Exercise, part 2

Continuing on with the Elvin exercise we looked at on Monday, we can also play just two voices per cycle through the ride cymbal pattern.  Remember, we're simply using our left hand and both feet to fill in the triplets not being played on the ride.  By using only two voices each time we're left with doubles on each voice.

I don't feel this is necessarily any more difficult or any easier than the three-voice interpretation, but rather is just a different sound, and certainly gives us a lot more variations to experiment with.