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SMALL PERCUSSION A Methodical Approach
In my travels I am often asked to demonstrate some of the fundamentals involved in playing small percussion instruments such as tambourine, shaker, cabasa, triangle, güiro, reco reco, maracas, caxixi, etc. Before showcasing the various rhythms from the vast traditional repertoire available I often discuss a methodical approach to the various instruments which involves among other things developing a good sound and technique and a strong rhythmic approach. Playing along to records further enhances this gradual development. You have to be patient in terms of its development as you are aiming for accuracy, finesse and overall musicality when playing the patterns. As the patterns are actually quite easy to sight read the important part is to go beyond the written part and get to a place where you experience the rhythmic qualities of the various patterns. As you develop them make sure you also spend some time recording yourself as you play along to records and critically analyse the outcomes. As someone who has spent considerable time in the recording studio I cannot stress this area enough.

Here is the first step which involves the development of a strong and steady eighth note rhythm as shown in example 1.  For a play along track try a slow ballad and/or a bossa nova.

Example 1

Once you feel comfortable and are playing eighth notes with a steady and relaxed rhythm, you should incorporate accents which as shown in examples 2, 3 and 4 shift the patterns in various directions. The next steps should involve further development by playing the patterns in sixteenths (rather than eighths) and finding suitable tracks to play along to.

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

© 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.

© Alex Pertout. All Rights Reserved.