• • 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. Bell Lesson
Lesson Length 2:45 min

In this lesson I teach you the bell pattern for Makuta. This five stroke pattern is a universal rhythm that is played with various instruments throughout the world. In the second half of this lesson I show how this bell pattern relates to Clave. This is an easy combination – most of the strokes are in common.

Track 3. Sticks Lesson
Lesson Length 2:17 min
In Makuta, sticks play an important role, reinforcing the bell and mid drum patterns. Two sticks are played on a piece of bamboo or on the side of a drum. The pattern has six strokes, so you can alternate hands easily. Notice there is no hit on beat 2, just like Clave.

Track 4. High Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 1:57 min
In this lesson, I teach you the high drum part for Makuta. This pattern has a universal rhythm “tresillo” at its core, with three additional strokes. This is an intermediate level pattern – you will keep tones and one hand and slaps on the other. In this rhythm, as with most Cuban rhythms, the slaps are played closed, with your fingers remaining on the drum after the stroke, stopping the vibration. Review the drum sounds here.

Track 5. Bell, Sticks and Quinto Practice Groove
Lesson Length 8:01 min
In this track I play the bell, sticks and high drum at a moderate pace, with no variation. This is perfect for you to practice any of the parts and concentrate on staying in the groove with me. You can also make up your own rhythms or sing and dance to the groove. I don’t speak during this track.

Track 6. Mid Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 2:05 min
In this lesson I teach you a the middle drum part to Makuta, played on the conga. This is an entry level pattern using only tones and bass. You can play this pattern in any jam and it will add a nice flavor.

Track 7. Low Drum Lesson
Lesson Length 4:52 min
In this lesson I teach you the lowest and longest (4 Claves) part to Makuta. This part is the basis of the solo and contains muted slaps and muffled open tones that give its character. Review these sounds here. Later in the program, I’ll show you some solo movements on this pattern. The pattern is based on the universal rhythm known as “Caballo” because its sound is similar to a horse galloping.

Track 8. Low Drum Lesson with Clave
Lesson Length 2:29 min
In this lesson I teach you how the low drum part fits with clave. Playing off this relationship is key to getting the right feeling in the music, since Clave might not be played in this ensemble, but is felt throughout.

Track 9. Low drum, Bell and Mid drum Practice Groove
Lesson Length 7:11 min
In this track, I play the bell and mid drum together with the low drum. You can copy any of the parts, make up your own, practice the parts which are not being played, or dance and sing to this groove. Just listening while relaxed is a great way to take the music in. I don’t talk during this track.

Track 10. Mix Minus Lesson
Lesson Length 20:50 min
In this lesson I play the whole drum song at a faster tempo and change the mix so each instrument combination is highlighted. This summarized the whole lesson.

Track 11. Solo Lesson
Lesson Length 2:58 min
In this track I show some of the movements I use on the solo drum part of Makuta. In a traditional situation, these movements would be dictated by the dancers and song. In this recording, I’m using my knowledge of the rhythm and style to create my own patterns to enhance the music.

Track 12. Vocal Ensemble & Lesson Summary
Lesson Length 3:57 min
Vocal ensemble/full band with solo. In this lesson I sing each of the parts, by layering them in one by one, then replacing the voices with the corresponding drum parts. Once all the support drums are in the mix, I bring in the solo so you can hear the movements from the previous lesson over the basic groove.

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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.