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Study - Timba Gears "Reelin' in the Gears" - Gears: What, Where and How

Gears: What, Where, and How

What: A "gear change" occurs when all 3 percussionists and the bassist change their patterns in tandem.

When: Every salsa and timba arrangement starts with a song, or cuerpo. This usually takes up about 20-30% of a studio track, but in live performance, it can be as little as 10%. When the cuerpo ends, the "montuno" section begins, consisting of an open-ended series of coros, horn mambos, breakdowns, and solos. The gear changes occur during the montuno section, sometimes as often as every 4 claves (or, in dancer-speak, every 4 basic steps).

The main gears of the 1998 Paulito band were:

marcha
marcha de mambo
pedal
bomba
songo con efectos
breakdown
audience sing-along

How: Some gear changes are planned in advance and always occur at the same point in the song. Others can be spontaneously called by hand signals. Many of the gear changes that are found in PFG's studio recordings will be repeated in the same way in concert, but since most studio recordings run 5 to 6 minutes and most live versions run from 8 to 20 minutes, there are also as many as 20 additional gear changes after the material from the studio version has finished. In the Paulito band, the structure was extremely loose and flexible. Paulito had a hand signal for each gear which he would flash during the last few beats of a given section to cue the musicians to change to the next gear. Paulito is a very controversial character, and many, myself included, are very disappointed with the direction he's taken his career in the last 5 years, but one thing is undeniable -- "El Sofocador" is by far the most spontaneous and quick-witted performer in the history of Timba. He's able to react to the situation and change his coros and guías, or even invent new ones, with astounding creativity and vocal accuracy, while simultaneously driving his world-class rhythm section like a Ferrari Testarosa on the open road.

cuban music, musica cubanaFew realize it, but when Paulito spins around with his hands close to the ground, often crying out "¡¡recógete!! it's not just for show. He's also giving the rhythm section the cue for the "Songo con Efectos" gear. When he thrusts his fist to the side and lets his fingers fly outward like a star, the rhythm section will go to "Pedal". A single finger waving, a lo cubano, parallel to the ground is the call for "Bomba". Two fingers held above his head is not PFG's impression of Richard Nixon -- it's the signal for the band to switch to Breakdown gear so that he can talk to the crowd and introduce the subject of the next coro. When he shakes his open hand in the air as if to hail a Cuban taxi, it means to return to the normal Marcha, or, if he shakes it in the direction of the horns, it's the cue for a mambo, which has its own special variation of the marcha gear.

martes, 22 marzo 2011, 07:31 pm