Review: Roots of Cuba Group 5 Module 4

Dates: Tues 3rd to Sun 8th October 2006
Venue: Whaley Hall, Derbyshire
Tutor: Ravin ‘Raz’ Jayasuriya

Course Background:
The aim of the course is to provide all participants with a solid grounding in a wide range of percussion instruments and rhythms from Cuba, to enrich knowledge, ability and understanding of musical concepts and to develop existing skills of experienced players. Participants become a closed group that encourages individual development.
ROC students learning bata drumming
Tutor Summary:
This was a module with lots of diverse material and challenges for all. We studied a lot of 3 against 2 (or 6 against 4) featured in rhythms such as Palo and Cha cha lo ke fun. For our warm up exercises on congas, we explored a theme using basic palm & fingers movements then added voice substitutions to develop the rudiment into more complex patterns.

We focussed on popular rhythms working on Timbales and Bongos then combined these with Tumbao patterns we’d covered in previous modules. We worked on a mini arrangement going through different music styles (from Cha cha cha to A Caballo to Mambo) with links and breaks.

Students were also introduced to Nongo and Oferere on the Bata and a few different Mozambique patterns for one player on two congas.

Generally students found the pace and level had moved up a notch from module 3 but equally the ability to understand the material has also become quicker.


Bata – Nongo, Oferere, new conversation in Cha cha lo ke fun,
Timbales – (Danzon, A Caballo, Cha cha cha, Paila, Mambo),
Bongo – Martillo and key variations
Mozambique, Makuta, Palo

Bata, Congas, Timbales, Bongos, Bombo drums
Cuban workshop instruments
Songs for Makuta & Palo,
Prayer and song for Chango (with Bata)

Exploring playeing 3 beats against 2 beats
Rudiments for Congas (from basic to complex interpretations)

Participant Reviews:
“Module 4 of 7 and we’re already beginning to worry what we’ll do when the course ends!

“Once again, we had had a great time, with a variety of new rhythms – mozambique, makuta and some new bata toques. Not to mention the new songs – my favourite was the rezo (prayer). The pace is quite fast, but Raz manages to accommodate the whole range of learning styles and we all seem to keep up.

“I especially value the way the group support each other – that’s the advantage of learning together in a closed group – and the level of trust that allows us to try new things and get it wrong sometimes. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the same without the warm welcome we get from Whaley Hall, which is undoubtedly unique!” Sheila Brisland

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