• • 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 3. Bell Lesson
Lesson Length 3:34 min

In this lesson I teach you the bell pattern that forms the base of Yan Valu. This very useful pattern is used in many forms of music, you may have heard it as bass line. It is a form of the Clave rhythm when played in 12 over a main beat of 4. This pattern is similar to others used throughout the African diaspora but its unique structure could be considered the signature of many Haitian styles. It has a strong three in time of four feeling and connects with the main beat in 3 places.

In the second half of this lesson I show how the bell pattern fits with Clave, the key rhythm. It is the same essential 5 clave strokes plus two others, which give it a very circular and mysterious feeling. The Clave pattern is integral to the rhythm and is your most important guide to understanding the cross rhythms and syncopations you will encounter. Make sure you lock this relationship between the bell pattern and the Clave into your mind and body.

Track 4. Rattle Lesson
Lesson Length 2:01 min
In this lesson I teach the rattle pattern which grounds the bell. It may seem like a simple pattern at first, but in the context of the other parts, it becomes quite a challenge to maintain correctly. The shape of this pattern in conjunction with the bell, emphasizes certain parts of the ensemble and not others. This builds dynamic tension and gives specific character to the groove.

Track 5. Mid Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 5:20 min
This is a lesson in the main theme of this style of Yan Valu, and is played on a middle pitched drum. You”ll be using a combination of open tones, taps, slaps, and palm – tip stokes to create this very syncopated pattern based on 12 Clave. In this pattern you play the palm tip strokes on your “other hand”, left for most of us. When you get the pattern in your body, you can leave out some of the taps. I demonstrate that in the lesson.

Track 6. Groove Lesson
Lesson Length 4:42 min
This is a groove of three patterns: the bell, rattle and mid drum. You can copy any of the patterns and listen to how well you fit into the groove, or you can use the groove as a base to improvise on. When you learn the other parts of the ensemble, you can come back to this groove and add the missing part. Or just close your eyes and listen and feel deeply into how these ancient rhythms feel and work together. ( A note of caution: this is trance inducing music, please do not listen to this track when you need to pay attention to something else like driving!!!)

Track 7. Hi Drum Lesson – Essential High Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 2:10 min
In this track I’ll teach you how the high drum works in Yan Valu. This is a tricky pattern for most people, it certainly was for me when I first learned it. It is simple technically, but how to enter the ensemble and maintain the pattern correctly it in the mix of other contrasting parts is a profound lesson.

Track 8. Hi Drum Lesson – Mastering the High Drum Inside The Key Rhythm
Lesson Length 4:19 min
This track is a master lesson in how the high drum part (which is common to many other ensembles) fits into the Clave pattern, the key pattern of Yan Valu and many other grooves. I take you through speaking the drum pattern and adding Clave hits one at a time, and then in reverse: clapping the Clave pattern and speaking the drum strokes in sets, one at a time. This is one of the most valuable music lessons I can offer you. It is not easy at first, but is incredibly valuable in establishing and solidifying your sense of time in the midst of complex cross rhythms. Once you learn how to clap and speak this combination, you can transfer it to two drums, two bells, bell and drum, marimba, or any combination on the drum set or timbales.

Track 9. Lead Drum Lesson – Basic
Lesson Length 5:29 min
In Yan Valu, the low pitched drum is the solo drum and has a basic phrase that is two Claves long and contains a unique sound made by sliding your finger over the drumhead, creating a glissando sound. I break the whole pattern down in to parts so you can build it up at your own speed. The pattern uses the palm tip movement in key places to create the feeling, so learning to speak the rhythm is your key to really getting it.

Track 10. Low Drum Lesson with Clave
Lesson Length 1:34 min
In this lesson we learn how the Lead drum pattern fits into Clave. When you can speak the drum pattern while clapping Clave, you’ll have a embodied understanding of how the rhythm works and how to improvise on it. This is the focus of all these lessons.

Track 11. Groove Lesson #2
Lesson Length 4:38 min
In this track I play the high drum, bell and the basic low drum pattern together in a nice slow groove. You can copy any part and fit in, or play a missing part, or improvise over the groove with what ever instrument you like. As with the other grooves, just listening to it when relaxed and eyes closed is a good way to let the music flow into your body/mind. ( A note of caution: this is trance inducing music, please do not listen to this track when you need to pay attention to something else like driving!!!)

Track 12. Mix Minus Lesson Summary
Lesson Length 17:54 min
This track is a changing mix of all the parts to Yan Valu that we’ve learned so for. A fun game is to find the missing part and add it, then change to the next and the next. You’ll be challenged to listen deeply to the groove and track each theme in your mind and body and follow the mix, while you keep time.

Track 13. Solo Lesson – “Inside”
Lesson Length 3:18 min
This is a lesson in playing with the basic lead drum part, staying within the main theme, but varying potions of it. You will learn how to play around the theme and maintain the glissando at the correct moment, reinforcing the main groove, with bass, tones and slaps.

Track 14Solo Lesson “Outside”
Lesson Length 3:13 min
In this track I show you how to step outside the basis solo drum pattern, as lead drummers in this tradition are sometimes called to do. This usually occurs after many of the standard phrases and melodies have been repeated and developed. These are my own ways of creating extra tension, and resolving it. You can start here and find your own. The Clave will guide you!!

Track 15. Vocal & Drum Ensemble, Lesson Summary
Lesson Length 4:20 min
In this track I build up the whole ensemble with both voices and drums. I start with just voices, imitating the drums, and then slowly mix in the drums under the voice, then mix out the voices so only the drums are left. This is actually a master lesson in the whole ensemble and could be a guide for a very interesting vocal ensemble.

1 Djesse Muloumbo - Learn to drum

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... 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.