Hand Patterns Based on Latin Rhythms

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Latin Rudiments

I get a lot of requests for patterns that are very typical sounding, useful, and relatively standard. Sounds like rudiments to me! Here are four typical patterns that can help you get a grip on "latin" patterns. Patterns "a" and "b" are the cascara pattern in the 2-3 clave direction, pattern "b" adding accents. The bass drum, well, please do experiment. Try leaving the fourth quarter note off, just playing the "and" of beat "2". A bit more open sounding. Patterns "c" and "d" are more Brasilian sounding and can be used for samba applications. You'll notice that the sticking patterns are combinations of singles, doubles, and diddles.

latin rudiments
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Hand Warm-up Exercises Using Clave Version 2 !

Here is one simple application of the rumba clave, from A Master's Approach to Timbales, the book I wrote with Changuito!

hand exercise

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.
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Son and Rumba Clave Hand Exercises

Here’s an exercise using either singles or paradiddle style sticking, which is based on either the son or rumba clave. And I’ve added a HH pattern and a common “American style” bass drum pattern. Why do I say that, “American style”? Well, I’ve never heard any Cuban drummers playing this pattern, over and over again. But, it is common for most of us, when someone says play a “latin” groove, so you need to know it and be able to play over the pattern. Rather than write all the stickings out and making this looks rather jumbled, I’ll explain the stickings here. You can print out the image of the patterns and write the stickings in. I wonder how many of you will actually do this?

If you are going to play this using singles,

well it’s really straight ahead. Just play the 16th notes as singles, either leading left (LRLR…) or leading right (RLRL…). Ahh, but getting all the singles to line up with the BD/HH pattern is the key!

Now, as paradiddles, it’s really quite simple. Wherever there’s the clave sound, a new paradiddle is begun. Doubles then follow until the next accent.

Son Clave with Paradiddle Sticking


Rumba Clave with Paradiddle Sticking


Why You Should Do This!? 1. Hand Conditioning for Singles, Doubles, and Paradiddles 2. Coordinated Independence when adding BD/HH 3. Creative Applications! This part is up to YOU!
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The ParaClave

I've been working with groups of 5s and 7s, and groups of 10s and 14s. Mainly I've been playing these groups as 16ths and 32nds. One day, while walking to the Musicians Institute (http://mi.edu) where I teach, I came up with this idea. It started out as a technical idea using groups of 10s and 14s, played as paradiddles and paradiddle-diddles. But little did I know what sound was waiting for me. Try this exercise with your feet playing quarter notes.


What I learned how to do, or was instructed to do, by my teachers, was to play with a metronome, with both feet with the metronome. The metronome, in this case, could be playing quarter notes. After you have a "feel" for how this pattern lays in your hands, play the HH on 2 and 4 and simply orchestrate the accents on cymbals with BD as you keep the HH on 2 and 4. My next application was to play the hands as alternating singles and every last diddle was played with the BD.


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