Lessons from Changuito, Jose Luis Quintana

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Melodic Coordination

Here's what I'm trying to do now! This is most definitely providing a challenge but I think the music that comes from this will be worth the work! My left hand is playing my timbales on the left side of my set, right under the hi hat, more or less. These are the notes with the diamond shaped note head. The rhythm is a typical Brasilian rhythm. My right hand is moving between the first rack tom and and snare drum. Bass drum and hi hat are playing a relatively typical samba rhythm. Let me know what you think!!

samba coordination

Hand Warm-up Exercises Using Clave

The clave is a rhythmic pattern which can be found throughout many different styles of music. From big band to jazz, from hip hop to rock, from funk to pop, and, oh yeah, in afro-caribbean ("latin") styles, the clave is a very popular rhythm. This rhythm can also be used as a warm-up exercise. Here are four patterns which I hope you'll find interesting.

changuito clave

Pattern #1 is from the great percussion master, Jose Luis Quintana, "Changuito". Changuito can be heard playing this pattern on our upcoming book, "Playing Afro-Cuban Timbales with Changuito" due out in late summer from Warner Brothers. Changuito plays this as a warm-up exercise and he also uses this pattern on timbales, especially on the high drum or "macho". Pattern #2 is from my book Practical Applications, Part 1. It is an application, using a combination of different stickings, of the rumba clave. The different stickings involved could be thought of as paradiddles, paradiddle-diddles, and doubles. Pattern #3 is also from my book Practical Applications, Part 1. It is an application of the son clave. Pattern #4 is from Changuito. It is the rumba clave and is a different phrasing of the clave. Whereas the previous two patterns took two measures to state the clave pattern, #4 does it in one measure. As with any warm-up exercise, the tempos should be slow at first. Get used to the sticking patterns first. The idea here is to use the clave, a very basic pattern, as the basis for an exercise. It is the feel of the clave with which we are working, not just a bunch of stickings. First, however, you must learn the stickings. Then, have the feel of the clave take over. This can be a very productive and fun way to warm up!
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Some songo ideas which, courtesy of the great Changuito


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More Great Melodic Exercises courtesy of Changuito Master Drummer from Cuba

For those of you who have been frequent visitors here, thanks! You've been seeing some of the concepts on which I've been working. This is something that is relatively new to my music stand. It's a groove that Changuito tapped out for me on the dashboard of my car, when I was living in Miami, Florida. This exercise is very, very melodic. It requires some very intense concentration to learn to perform this correctly. Heck, I've just begun to practice it and I've found it to be very challenging and also very fulfilling. For me, it's a wonderful goal to aim for. Here's the way the melodic exercise was played for me, first on my dashboard, later on timbales. The right hand (or left hand!) is playing the cascara pattern. Chango plays it on the bell. The other hand moves in between the low and high timbales (the hembra and macho, respectively).


I've realized that I need to break down the exercise into smaller parts in order to simplify it, both mentally and physically. Here's what I've done, basically breaking it into two three measure phrases, and not moving between two drums, just staying on one. As you can see, each three measure phrase begins on a different measure of the (2 measure) cascara.


Next for me, aftetr I get this really swinging, is to play clave with either hand and play this melodic groove, and then play clave with my left foot and start to really orchestrate. Hmm.....seems like a few months worth of fun!
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