The Clave is a field of rhythmic activity and there are many ways to describe it.We just learned how the Clave fits into a field of 16 counts.In the next set of lessons we’ll learn how the 5 Clave strokes fit into a cycle of 12 counts. This gives it a mysterious feeling.
You can start anywhere in the program that feels good to you, and go either forward or backward to fill in the gaps in your understanding. When you have done all the lessons in this program, you will have a thorough understanding of this most important pattern in music. What you can learn here applies not just to African Diaspora music, but to all of RHYTHM.
I teach you the patterns from the inside out. We start with a simple counting system anyone can do, and progress through three other forms of musical counting. As we count and clap the patterns in different ways, you learn to feel the underlying continuum that the Clave implies.
Each level of challenge teaches you more about the rhythm and how it feels in music. When you’ve learned one level, you can go to the groove sections and play the pattern along with me. The shakers and foot tap will help to lock the feeling into your body.
I show you how to play the patterns with single stroke motion, the basic logic of hand drumming. This teaches you how to apply Clave based patterns to conga or djembe.
I show you two hand coordination that you can transfer to hands and feet or both feet. This helps you to get the feeling spread out into your body which leads to a relaxed and accurate playing. The two hand coordination is useful for bell and timbales, woodblocks, marimbas, piano of any other similar instrument. The hand and foot coordination is useful for the drum set, or learning to use pedals of any kind accurately.
The lesson ends with 25 minutes of Clave grooves at different tempos for you to play along with.
There is a tremendous amount of material in these multilevel lessons. Listen casually and jump into the program where ever you feel comfortable. Practice the pattern until you feel relaxed with it, then go to the groove sections and see if you can keep Clave with me or play your drum along with the groove and feel into how the rhythm works. You could repeat this for a few days, weeks, or even months, depending on how much time you practice.
A basic process for learning rhythm is to learn one thing very well, then combine it with another to form a composite. This composite, formed of two things, can now be perceived as one thing to which other things can be added. In this way your understanding of patterns expands, until you can keep track of several contrasting rhythms. In the these Clave Consciousness lessons you will do that by first becoming aware of the underlying continuum that Clave defines, and then how the Clave pattern relates to, and adds potential to the underlying four – pulse.
When you are comfortable with one part of the program, go to another level of the same lesson, and listen casually and find the next lesson to focus on. In some cases, it may be that a lower level is more challenging, especially if you have previous musical training or experience. Some of what I present here is so basic that you might assume that it is easy. Going back to basics and filling gaps in understanding is always valuable.
Next jump to one of the lessons in the 12 beat cycle. It is challenging for most people to make the connection between the feeling of “4-4 Clave” and “12 Clave” – but this is essential to real understanding of how these rhythms work. Practice with the corresponding groove to lock the feeling into your body.
Your job in these lessons, is to use your mind and body to play and hold the specific proportions of the 5 stroke sequence, as multiple layers of rhythm are added. The more you focus on these Clave patterns, the more you will realize the organizing principle at work.
After you have internalized some Clave patterns, I invite you to use them as a reference point to measure and contrast other patterns. My Speaking of Rhythm™ series teaches you this by showing you how to speak the drum parts while clapping the Son Clave pattern and keeping the main beat.
To learn music you must copy it into your body with the right feeling. The best way is to do that is by learning to speak and sing its phrases. If you do this combined with movement, you will gain a whole body memory of the event. Your body becomes the store house of information. The drum is an amplifier for your musical feelings.
I love his Clave Consciousness CD Volume one. It is a must for any serious player. And for the drum Circle facilitator it puts all universal rhythms into perspective."