• • Speaking of Rhythm deeply involves YOU in the process of learning and expressing rhythm. You will learn to hold three contrasting parts : voice, feet and hands. This mimics the parts of the ensemble and you deeply feel how music works.

    • Speaking of Rhythm is a fun and challenging game : lean where voice, hand claps and feet all interact in sequences of conjunction and opposition. You go at your own rate.

Track 2. Tumba Lesson
Lesson Length: 2:33 min
This pattern forms the bass of the Afoxé rhythm and many others as well. First we learn it with syllables then we play it together on the bass conga. When you have mastered this pattern you will have a great basic groove for jamming or adding to other ensembles.

Track 3. Tumba Lesson, Level 2, with Clave
Lesson Length: 2:33 min
Tumba with Clave. In this lesson we learn how this bass part fits with the key rhythm (Clave), which is at the root of the whole ensemble. Speaking the syllables of the drum pattern while clapping the Clave (key pattern) is the best way to get the interaction of the two patterns into your body. After we learn it by voice we’ll play it together on the drum.

Track 4. Bell lesson
Lessons Length: 2:52
Agogo (Bell) Lesson. In this lesson I teach you the main bell (agogo) pattern for Afoxé. This is an ancient rhythm from Nigeria, and it shows up many places in African Diaspora music, with different starting points and melodies. The pattern can be translated to marimba or numerous other instruments including bass drum and snare drum for “Afrobeat”. I find this to be one of the most useful patterns I know.

Track 5. Tumba and Bell Practice Groove
Lesson Length: 8:09 min
This lesson is a groove of the tumba and bell pattern at a nice slow pace. Take time to play along on either part and let them sink in. They have many hits in common and some that happen separately. It is these places of opposition and conjunction that give the specific shape and feeling to the groove, and make it Afoxé. The way the two melodies work can be a challenge to follow, even though most of the hits are in common. If you play drum set or marimba, try playing both parts at the same time, one on each hand! I don’t talk in this track.

Track 6. Quinto Lesson
Lesson Length: 2:16 min
This is a lesson in the high drum part to Afoxé. In Afoxé, this part supports, provides forward momentum, and is the basis of the solo. One challenge with this part is to distinguish the tones and slaps. As with all Brazilian rhythms, the slaps are played open, without grabbing the drum. Review the drum sounds here. This pattern is not only part of Afoxé, but of other rhythms throughout the world. Similar patterns are used in West African, Caribbean, Indian, and Arabic music.

Track 7. Quinto and Bell Practice Groove
Lesson Length: 6:00 min
In this track I play the agogo pattern and the high drum together with no variation. This is perfect for practicing either part, making up your own part, dancing or singing with it. These two patterns form a signature of Afoxé and are enough to convey the rhythm if you have dancers. A good way to get to know the rhythm is to listen to the track while relaxed, to let it sink in deeply. I don’t talk on this track.

Track 8. Quinto, Tumba, and Bell Practice Groove
Lesson Length: 6:25 min
Here I play the agogo (bell) with the tumba (bass conga) and quinto (high drum). Notice the difference the addition of the tumba makes to groove, connecting four phrases of the high drum, or two bell patterns. I don’t talk on this track.

Track 9. Conga Lesson (mid drum)
Lesson Length: 2:35 min
In this lesson I teach the mid drum part to Afoxé. It is simple technically, but because it is mostly empty (only 3 of 8 potential hits are sounded) it can be a challenge to keep steady. The slap is played open, without grabbing the drum. It is a very useful, universal pattern that can be part of many ensembles. It has a beautiful swing when played together with Clave, which you will learn in this lesson.

Track 10. 2nd Bell
Lesson Length: 2:50 min
Second (agogo) bell lesson. In this lesson I teach you a pattern I heard on a recording and liked so much that I added it to my arrangement. The trick to this pattern is that it starts on beat Four, not on beat One as all the other patterns in this lesson do. Also, you need to have a quick wrist, as you need to play four strokes in a row, two high and two low, in this pattern.

Track 11. Conga, Tumba, 2nd Bell Groove
Lesson Length: 6:40 min
In this track I combine the mid drum, low drum and 2nd bell part in a steady and unchanging groove for you to play, dance or sing with. You can practice the high drum and first bell part with this track. I don’t talk track.

Track 12. Mix Minus, Play along
Lesson Length: 10:54 min
This track summarizes the entire set of lessons, excluding the solo. In this track I play all the parts I”ve taught in this program at a faster tempo. I change the mix every few bars to highlight different instrument combinations and entry points. I don’t talk track.

Track 13. Solo Play along
Lesson Length: 10:40 min
In this lesson I use a “trading fours” format to teach you some solo movements. I play solo for the length of four bell patterns, then leave the same interval empty for you to play in. The groove continues underneath. You are free to try and copy me, quote patterns from the rhythm section, or make up your own variations.

Track 14. Voices + Drums
Lesson Length: 3:28 min

Speaking and singing these rhythms is how you embody them. In this track I sing all the parts to Afoxé, layered in one a time, then I slowly bring in the corresponding drum parts under each voice. It is fun to hear how the voice and drum blend into each other, and how the voice really is speaking the rhythm of the drum.

If you can say it – you can play it!

1 Afoxe

Download All Lessons

Total Lesson length (1 hr 10 min)

Save by purchasing all lessons together

Track 15. Intro to Bembe, our next Rhythm
Lesson Length: 0:38 min
Hear a sample of the music:

... Kim breaks these rhythms down in every way possible and keeps your attention, while making listening and playing along to the different parts less like practice and more like fun.  He then builds the rhythms back up again in such a way that you get to hear every relationship between each of the parts played by the different instruments.  The best element in the series is his unique vocal adaptation of the different instruments played and sung in the rhythms. It is as entertaining as it is educational.

I thank Kim Atkinson for Sharing His Spirit with us in such a way that we can all become better players and facilitators
"I just wanted to thank you for actually caring to develop a simple yet enormously powerful teaching method that has transformed my music playing, listening and also speaking ability. Coincidentally, its also helped me run further without being as tired....I think its due me being able to feel and attend to each step I take more like a rhythm than a battle, and maybe it's because I've been stepping the pulse - when I practice speaking the rhythms - in an oval around my room"
"I really appreciate the way you have broken it down and shown how all the parts interweave.  It's a great way to get the whole rhythm into a non-left-brain part of my body." - Kathy
"I often teach my students that if you can "say it", you can "play it".  In his Speaking of Rhythm series, Kim takes this concept to the next level. Using spoken syllables and playing drums, each part is explored separately and then in every possible combination with each other, and against both the underlying pulse and Clave. These highly effective CDs accomplish what could only otherwise be done by having a multi-track recorder available for every class. (Except of course they are MUCH easier to use, and work in your car!)

Another extremely useful feature is that a different syllable is assigned not only to each different drum sound, but also to each hand making the sound. Thus, by learning to speak the rhythm, students also learn the proper "sticking" at the same time.

I enjoyed the arrangements so much that I even adopted the Afoxe rhythms for use with my Brazilian Bateria. We now play the same Afoxe patterns on Surdos, Repeniques, and Caixas."
"...the greatest benefit of your classes and CDs came to me as a salsa dancer, by improving my ability to hear and understand the Clave. ... this has made my enjoyment of salsa music and dancing that much better. Thank you again!"
"I've had some great fun and learning from Kim Atkinson's CD's. Bembe, Makuta, Nigerian Highlife and others are great sets of rhythms I was glad to add to my repertoire. It was helpful to really get inside clave rhythms too. Kim knows his stuff, makes it clear and accessible... and he rocks!"
WOW... Kim!! I spent about two hours enjoying and learning from your CD.. I was TRULY impressed with the format and success it gave me and will give others... YOU DID IT!

1) Connect the Syllables to Drum Strokes

Practice each drum stroke separately and speak the syllable as you hit the drum. Do this many times – you’re learning a kinesthetic language – connecting your voice and your hands.

If you need to review the syllables, hand positions and sounds on your drum, click here.

2) Speak Drum Language – Make Sentences:

Now learn the syllables for a drum pattern (for example, the tumba for Afoxé). Go slowly. Speak the sounds out loud and learn to say them effortlessly so they feel like a sentence.

3) Orient Yourself – Syllables with the Pulse:

Next, clap the pulse while speaking the syllables. This will show you how the drum part (via the syllables) relates to the main beat.

4) Make a Sentence with your Hands:

Now that you’ve learned a sentence in drum language map the vocal sounds to hand positions on the drum. (You can do this without a drum, but make sure you’re saying the syllables out-loud. You can practice this on a table, your body, anywhere).

5) Say the Sentence On the drum:

Say and play the drum rhythm. Notice that the drum is saying what the voice is saying and the voice is saying what the drum is playing.