Review: Roots of Cuba Group 5 Module 5

Dates: 15th to 19th January 2007
Venue: Whaley Hall, Derbyshire
Tutor: Ravin ‘Raz’ Jayasuriya
The true Conga Oriental sound Course Background:
The aim of the course is to provide all participants with a solid grounding in a wide range of percussion instruments & rhythms from Cuba, to enrich knowledge, ability & understanding of musical concepts & to develop existing skills of experienced players.

Participants become a closed group to encourage individual development. The intensity of study and entrance level is similar to the Roots of Brazil course.

Tutor summary:
The complexity of the material moved up a notch or two during this module. There were plenty of challenges for all levels and everybody worked hard throughout the week. We learned lots of songs this time covering a range of music styles which helped people to get a better understanding of the percussion needs to be played to get the right swing.

There was a mixture of folkloric and popular music studies including a new Guarapachangeo rhythm. On the traditional side we focussed on Arara (clapping and drumming) and Bata rhythms and for the popular side we went further into rhythms and techniques for the Timbales looking at variations on basic patterns covered in previous modules as well as introductions to Mozambique.

The guest tutor this time was Howard Jacobs, who brought along his saxophone and Chinese Trumpet to play melodies over several styles of Cuban carnival music. He also gave some background to the way a Comparsa (carnival group) is run and how they perform during carnival. As a result, we concentrated on Mozambique and Conga a great deal this time.

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Mozambique, Conga Habanera, Conga Oriental, Arara (toque Savalu), Bata (toques for Chango & Obatala), Guarapachangeo
Bombo in Conga Habanera
Congas, Bata, Timbales, Cajones, Bombos, Cowbells, Clapping

A la bi yo o e (Chango), Akete Oba (Obatala), Arara sequences for Afra & Asoyi, songs for Mozambique, Conga Habanera and Conga Oriental

Working on swing for playing patterns in fast carnival rhythms
Bombo drum patterns and variations
Left hand development for Tumbao
Left hand variations for Timbales
Further understanding of working with 6/8 bell pattern

Participants’ comments:
“With regards to feedback, the week was great as usual. Top class tuition and I really enjoyed Howard’s session on Conga & Mozambique.” Roddy Dixon, Glasgow

“Once again a brilliant week, going into more depth with Cuban
Carnival styles. Howard’s input added a new dimension with different instruments and specialist knowledge, and was thoroughly enjoyable.

As ever, the pace pushed me without giving me a nervous breakdown, and the range of new material was exciting. The group is picking up new material much more quickly now, and the general sound has really improved, showing how much we have all progressed. K.S.

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