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Beyond Salsa for Beginners - Rhythmic Exercises 1: Feeling the Groove

Chapter 1 is all about feeling the basic groove of Latin music and choosing your favorite of our six methods for learning the clapping and singing exercises:

1) just listen and copy (fast and slow)

2) matrix notation (dots in squares)

3) X&o notation

4) standard 16th note notation

5) standard 8th note notation

6) special "build-the-rhythm" method
(doesn't apply to the exercise below - only for harder rhythms)

You can download all of the audio files for this chapter for free, in a zip file, here. (Future note: these files will also be useful for readers of the upcoming Beyond Salsa Percussion Vol. 1 for Beginning Drums and Timbales). 

EXCERPT FROM BEYOND SALSA, CHAPTER 1:

With music, you’re measuring time. If the smallest subdivision you’re feeling is one beat, that’s like having a yardstick with only the inches marked. If you measure someone’s height as 5’9”, that’s fine for most purposes, but if you used this level of accuracy to measure a critical part for the space shuttle, you’d be putting people’s lives in danger. Playing or dancing with an accuracy level of one beat will not kill your audience, fellow musicians or dance partners, but it may very well make them wish they were dead. To play or dance Latin music at a professional level, you have to feel four subdivisions per beat and you have to make sure your audience and dance partners feel them too.

Let’s learn a short repeating rhythmic figure, or rhythmic cell. This one is called main beats, and consists of a percussive sound (or stroke) on the first of every group of four subdivisions. We use a black dot, or bullet (•) to indicate each stroke of the rhythm. Listen to Audio Track 1-3a and/or Audio Track 1-3b while following along with each of the four diagrams. We provide two audio tracks of each rhythmic cell – “a” (faster) and “b” (slow motion) and, later on, two others: fast and slow “c” and “d” versions using our special method of building rhythms event by event. If you prefer a different tempo, there are many free or inexpensive software programs that will allow you to change the tempo or loop sections to create longer practice tracks.

Note that not all types of music use this “four groups of four” type of grid. Three groups of four (e.g., waltz time, or 3/4) and four groups of three (e.g., shuffle time, or 12/8) are common and all sorts of other combinations occur in classical music, modern jazz, some pop, and many types of music from India and Eastern Europe. In every major genre of Latin popular music, however, it’s always four groups of four. The only exception that we’ll eventually need to concern ourselves with is Afro-Cuban folkloric music, which often uses four groups of three, but every popular music rhythm in this book can be expressed very clearly with these four-by-four grids. We’ll study Afro-Cuban folkloric music in Listening Tour 4 and the special chapter on rhythmic perspective.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012, 09:23 PM