Why speak rhythm?


Why do I want to speak rhythms?

• Speaking rhythm is a direct, accessible entry into music and dance. It connects us with the long tradition of the aural/oral transmission of history, poetry and music. This method has been successfully used for thousands of years across multiple continents and cultures.

• Speaking a rhythm develops embodied musicianship. You learn to feel and move in the container-like nature of your own sound field created by regular body pulsation, singing short repeating melodies and clapping.

• Speaking/singing rhythm with foot steps and hand claps is a profound mind/body process for the individual that mimics the experience of what happens in Ensemble, where various contrasting parts are combined.

Kim Atkinson’s ‘Speaking of Rhythm’ is a multi layer music process you go through it at your own rate.

• ‘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.

“…as entertaining as it is educational.

The best element in the series is his unique vocal adaptation of the different instruments played in the rhythms…
I thank Kim Atkinson for Sharing His Spirit with us in such a way that we can all become better players and facilitators…”

Arthur Hull

I want to learn rhythms. Why do I want to learn rhythm by speaking?

• Learning rhythm though speech is an accessible method for anyone.  The teaching – learning process is kept in the auditory/kinesthetic realm, maximizing learning and retention. Sound and Movement are primary.

• When you are learning and remembering a rhythm, Speaking it is how you create and refine a precise copy of the sound. As you hear yourself speak it, you feel the rhythm in detail and compare and correct your vocal copy as you go. This is the same way children learn language: listen, repeat, correct, repeat, listen.

The rhythm will teach you, if you listen closely and move with it. Then you will remember it, as a song you like. You will build up your vocabulary of rhythm songs.

What does speaking rhythm have to do with hitting a drum?

Once you learn how to make the different sounds on the drum, an easy way to learn and remember the particular drum song is by making a vocal copy.   The method I teach you becomes a sonic map connecting your voice and hands so you can recreate the rhythm at anytime without thinking.

What is special about Kim Atkinson’s ‘Speaking of Rhythm’ program?

• Out of the hundreds of rhythms I know, I have chosen this collection not only because it covers the basics for playing any rhythm, but because it teaches you a fundamental orientation of world percussion music.

• The repertoire I’ve chosen is a good orientation to African Diaspora Music in the Oakland – San Francisco Bay Area which has been a focal point of this music since the 1970’s.

• I teach you how each patten fits into the key rhythm – Clave.  This maximizes and solidifies your music learning by eliminating possible misconceptions.  Each pattern deepens yet another level when you feel and hear it in Clave. That is why  Clave is the Key.

• I don’t  merely demonstrate what a pattern is, I actually teach you how the pattern works, and how to get it into your body/mind.  We play the patterns slowly, break them down into segments, recombine them, and learn how they fit with the beat. YOU learn the music from the inside out.

 • I give you slow steady grooves you can play with, so YOU can feel into what you’ve learned, within a mix of other instruments. This deepens your understanding of the ensemble and how each pattern works.

• The lessons are many levels deep. There is plenty of challenge here for everyone

• You will learn – through your body and voice – the musical landscape of downbeats, upbeats, offbeats, ratios, loop point, starting and stopping and more –  without out me explaining any of these musical concepts and landmarks.        

• Along the way, you’ll find that ‘Speaking of Rhythm’ is a fun and challenging game, to lean where voice, hand claps and feet all interact in sequences of conjunction and opposition.