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The Roots of Timba, Pt I - 1948-Yo no engaño a las nenas

1948 Arsenio Rodríguez - Yo no engaño a las nenas
0xx0 xx0x
xx0x 0xxx 3-2 son clave
xxxx xxxx xxx0 0x00
xxx0 x00x xxx0 0x00
MIDI example
Lázaro Prieto

source: Legendary Sessions

notes: As we'll see in great detail later, timba bass tumbaos have a large vocabulary of figures which are used to mark the clave. What's so interesting is to discover how many of them were present in 1948 and then lay relatively dormant for decades. In this case xxx0 x00x is probably timba's strongest way of marking the 3-side and xxx0 0xxx is also very common on the 2-side.

The bloque of Yo no engaño is particularly unusual in that the horns and bass play contrapuntally, making it impossible to show in a single line of x's and 0's.

Yo no engaño bloque -- MIDI example (3-2 son clave)
xxxx xxxx x0xx 0xx0
xPPP Pxxx x000 0xx0
piano & bass (P=piano alone)

xx0x x0xx 0xx0 xx0x horns
000x x000 0xx0 000x piano & bass

x0xx 0xxx 0x00 x00x horns
x000 0xxx
0x00 x00x
piano & bass

xxx0 xx0x xCCC CxCC (C=coro pickups)
xxx0 xx0x xxx0 0x00 piano & bass

Let's deconstruct this unusual gem. After the now-familiar piano lead-in figure, a 3-beat pattern is established and repeated 3 times. Arsenio drastically increases the tension of this cross-rhythm by changing the harmony in 3-beat cycles as well as the rhythm. Since no other parts are playing to maintain the previous groove, the ear desperately wants to hear this section in 3/4, so it's quite a shock when the parts come back together (0x00 x00x), and reestablish the 4/4 meter. But even this passage is unusual because it's a rhythm that normally marks the 3-side. It's followed by another 3-side rhythm (xxx0 xx0x - bombo-ponche) and then the pickups to the first tumbao and coro return. Thus, it's possible to clap clave uninterrupted through the entire arrangement.

Of course, to clap clave through the whole arrangement, you have to know where to start, and although Arsenio claims not to engañar a las nenas, his introductions have a strong tendency to engañar a los Yumas. This one definitely me engañó a mí! So if you encounter a similar fate, here's a cheatsheet MIDI file with a full countoff. The countoff parts (in blue) are designed to make it impossible to hear "1" in the wrong place.

No engaño a las nenas - introduction -- audio -- MIDI -- 3-2 son clave
Bxxx Bxxx BxBx BxBx B
=bell countoff
CxxC xxCx xxC0 0x00
C=clave countoff; 0=horns
0x00 xxBB
xxx0 0x00
0x00 xxBB xxx0 0x00
0x00 xx00 0x00 0x00
0x00 xx0x xCCC CxCC C
xCC xxCC ...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011, 03:32 AM