Alternative Culture MagazineCougar WebWorks Celebrating Nature, Culture, and Spirit
Alternative Culture Magazine

Rhythm of the Week...

Free Online Drum Rhythm Lessons

Free video lessons (on YouTube) for beginners

Introduction to African drum rhythm notation and basic djembe beats

free music education resources and drumming tips for beginning or advanced drummers...or anyone just wanting to groove with world beat and alternative music

Roots Jam - hand drum rhythms & lesson books

Drumming Music Notation - Hand Drum Lessons with Easy Rhythm Instruction for African Drumming Music, Latin Drumming and other Hand Drum Rhythms.

How to read the notation


Listen with streaming RealAudio files live while online.

Click here - - to download free RealPlayer

This Week's Lesson:

Short Bell, Long Bell, Universal Break


1
.
.
2
.
.
3
.
.
4
.
.
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x

Playing rhythms of the African and Afro-Latin traditions, one inevitably comes across these backbones of the beat, played usually by a bell, sticks or clave. The first two patterns above are known as short bell and long bell respectively, because the first pattern starts with two single beats before a double beat, and the second starts with three single beats before a double. (Actually that first beat, “the one,” is in both cases the second of a double beat, preceded by the pickup note at the end: “and one.”) The third pattern above is less commonly found in traditional 12/8 rhythms, but is recognizable as the first part of the universal break or cascara patterns in 4/4:

1
.
*
.
2
.
*
.
3
.
*
.
4
.
*
.
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x

The interesting thing about all three rhythms in 12/8 (first grid at top of lesson) is that they are all the same pattern, just begun at different points. The bold x shows where the short bell pattern begins in each of the three (moving left to right and then back around). Then why choose the third pattern for such a critical role in 4/4? Because though it starts right away going off the beat, it comes back to resolve strongly on the 3 and 4 pulse (bold for emphasis):

1
.
*
.
2
.
*
.
3
.
*
.
4
.
*
.
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x

Speaking of transitions from three-time to four-time (and back again), compare the movement of the rumba clave, in 4/4, with the 6/8 Afro-Latin clave - and notice also how similar these patterns are to the universal break and short bell, respectively:

1
.
*
.
2
.
*
.
3
.
*
.
4
.
*
.
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
univ. break
x
x
x
x
x
rumba clave

1
.
.
2
.
.
3
.
.
4
.
.
x
x
x
x
x
6/8 clave
x
x
x
x
x
x
x
short bell

For further rhythm studies and lessons see Roots Jam rhythm books, with excerpts and free lessons online, and audio tracks of many basic and advanced traditional rhythms.

Go to my latest African Drumming Blog

See lots more rhythm notation and drum lessons in my Roots Jam rhythm books, with optional audio files (CD or mp3). And read my latest tips and insights about drumming: African Drumming Blog

About the Editor | Site Map | Homepage | Email | ©2006 Cougar WebWorks