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SAMBA Rhythmic Directions
The following are exercises that will help you immensely, in your quest to develop an understanding of the rhythmic directions as employed in samba styles. As discussed in my last article SAMBA Essential Parts Brazilian styles make use of two bar rhythms, which can be approached two ways, the direction being dictated by the melody of the tune. In Afro-Cuban music these two bars are clearly defined as 3/2 or forward clave, and 2/3 or reverse clave, for further information on this, please refer to my articles CLAVE CONCEPTS Afro-Cuban Rhythms, CLAVE CONCEPTS Tito Puente's Para Los Rumberos. As Brazilian music does not seem to employ a clear system to explain this characteristic, this writer incorporates the letter (A) to identify the 'first side' of a two bar pattern (or 3/2 clave), and (B) for the 'second side' of the two bar pattern (or 2/3 reverse clave).

The way I teach my students to develop an understanding of the two bar patterns, is to first work on each bar separately. Once you analise this further, you find that the accents in one bar clearly fall on the 'up-beats' (the A side), while on the other they are clearly on the 'down-beats' (the B side). To practise this, tap your foot on one and two (the strong pulse the surdo drum underlines) while clapping example one. Once mastered do the same with example two.

Example 1

example 1

Example 2

example 2

Once you feel comfortable put both bars together and practise them in both directions. Example 3 is the 'A to B' direction, while example 4 is the reverse or 'B to A' direction.

Example 3

example 3

Example 4

example 4

Once both directions are mastered, get some good Brazilian samba records, find the rhythmic direction of a particular tune, and play-a-long, concentrating only on clapping and tapping the patterns written above.

© Alex Pertout. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission from the author. This article was first published in Drumscene magazine.

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