Photo by Scott Pickering

Friday, August 27, 2010

Forte-piano Timpani Roll

Get Sneaky.

You can find the forte-piano timpani roll in hymn arrangements, oratorios, Brooklyn Tabernacle orchestrations, and many more church music styles.

If your usual method has been to play a loud roll and quickly bring the roll volume down, try this approach for a better tone (and less work).
  • Play a single forte stroke. The volume level of the resulting tone will begin to drop.
  • While the head is still ringing, bring in a soft roll under the volume of the ringing tone produced by the initial stroke.
  • With some practice, you can sneak in so that the beginning of the piano roll is masked by the sound of the decaying forte stroke.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Clave Rhythms

Clave patterns serve as rhythmic organizers in several Latin American and African styles of music. There are Bossa Nova, Afro-Cuban 6/8, Rhumba, Son claves and more! One of the more common is the Son clave. This five note pattern can be played in two versions, 3-2 and 2-3.
When playing in the rhythm section, it is crucial to know if a clave-based song is 3-2 or 2-3. This knowledge assists the players in selecting note groupings. Everyone should be playing “in clave.”

One way to determine the clave is to clap the 3-2 version while singing the melody of the song and repeat the melody with the 2-3 version. One of the clave rhythms will probably fit and feel better. (This suggestion comes from the book, Salsa Session by B. Sulsbruck, H. Beck, and W. Hansen.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Stay loose!

Claves may have originated with sailors using pegs from ship masts for musical accompaniment. Traditionally made of rosewood, the bright tone of the claves can cut through some dense musical textures.

Hold the striker clave in your dominant hand (in a loose matched grip). For the stationary clave, curl your fingers of your other hand in towards your palm with the thumb resting against the side of the index finger. You are forming a little echo chamber for the clave to resonate.

Lay the clave over your echo chamber and you are ready to play.
Gripping either clave tightly will inhibit vibrations. You will know when the grips are correct when the claves respond with a characteristically resonant tone. Stay loose (grip-wise)…and check back for a post about clave rhythms.