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BY BRIAN ANDRES | FROM THE SUMMER 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!

Practice Pad Lessons

During my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to be employed by artists from such diverse places as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Trinidad, Martinique, Sierra Leonne, the Ivory Coast, and the United States, to name just a few. Each musical situation required that I learn and master very specific rhythms and musical styles that are native to the country of origin of each artist.

However, without fail, the one common groove I found myself playing on each and every gig was some form of the four-note rhythm shown in Ex. 1. Whether the style was reggaeton, dance hall, hip-hop, timba, zouk, or another, this four-note pattern found itself in the music. As simple as that four-note pattern is, the variations you can employ are seemingly endless. In this lesson we’ll take a look at some of these fun beats.

practice pad lessons afro carribean world music drum lesson four-note foundation ex1


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Ex. 2 adds a quarter-note pulse to the hi-hat. You can also play most of the written hi-hat parts on a cowbell, or the bell of the ride cymbal.  The added quarter-note pulse lends itself to fast tempos, though it isn’t restricted to them. Ex. 3 adds eighth-notes to the hi-hat. Then, in Ex. 4, open the hi-hat on the second and fourth eighth-note. You can add the e of every quarter-note to the hi-hat to get a more driving beat (Ex. 5).

practice pad lessons afro carribean world music drum lesson four-note foundation ex2-5

It’s also common practice to add syncopated rhythmic patterns, as well as incorporate open hi-hats (Ex. 6–8). Once you’ve moved some of these patterns to a ride cymbal or cowbell, you might try “splashing” the hi-hat open on the & of each quarter-note. This gives each groove an added dimension.

practice pad lessons afro carribean world music drum lesson four-note foundation ex6-8

BRIAN ANDRES performs with numerous Latin, Caribbean, and African ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads the critically acclaimed Latin jazz group The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel.  He is a Bosphorus Cymbals artist and a Regional Artist Endorser for Sakae Drums.

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