Saturday, September 20, 2008

Drumming a storm

The musicians we heard last night gave a great percussion workshop today. Intense, fun, lots of soul... Kevin Nathaniel Hylton is a master teacher who was able to move the group of us (about 13) from basic 4/4 time into clave rhythms, including the African 6/8. Hasan Bakr, also a great teacher, guided us on drum, helping us hear the “1” as we played.

Drumming, rhythm, is three-dimensional shape, Kevin explained. You work it, feel it, live it through your whole body so that the beat comes from within. The clave rhythms are the root; learning those lead to deeper rhythms, and when playing with others, the result is the poly-rhythm mix of beats, tones, all meshing together into an awesome wall of sound.

The room vibrated as we played clave sticks, hand drums, bells, shekere (large gourd rattle with beads or shells), woven rattles.

To close the workshop, Tomas, Hasan, and Kevin played again, improvising, jamming on a couple of numbers, then invited us to play with them on Changui en Siete, a song with a 7 beat clave rhythm, for a grand finale.

Earlier, when we came to the workshop, it was sunny with blue skies. But by the end, trees were thrashing in the wind and dark clouds roiled overhead. Sheets of fresh rain pelted the windows, streets, earth.
We drummed a storm…

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