This manual provides a doorway into the concept of adapting South Indian rhythms and
mathematical cells to playing drum set grooves. No prior background in Indian music
is required to benefit from these ideas. Hopefully this manual will inspire you to further
explore the amazing depth of the Indian rhythm systems from both South (Carnatic) and
North (Hindustani) Indian music traditions.
This study offers a glimpse into the power of the North Indian tabla
language and the fundamental mathematics the language comprises, presented here as a
unique yet universal method called a-rhythm-etic
. The concept is simple but with great
possibilities. Rhythm cells in this method are rendered with spoken syllables that are
strung together to form potent musical shapes and metric structures that are applicable to
any instrument and in any style of music. Using basic tabla
syllables (called bols
will discover new and essential entry points into rhythm invention, while speaking
syllables clearly and with inflection will enhance the musicality of your practice.
Derived from traditional West African bell patterns and support rhythms, the 200+ variations
in this intensive study are derived from traditional African bell patterns
from the Ewe people of coastal Ghana. This work represents the culmination of over 30
years of studying African music with teachers in Ghana and Boston. Sources are provided at
the end with major influences coming from Professor David Locke (Tufts University), Godwin
Agbeli and his sons Reuben, Emmanuel and Nani, and drummer and colleague Bertram
Lehmann. Several pages comprise original compositions and concepts.
Solo drum set arrangement of African bell, support drums, and master drum phrases.
All Agbekor patterns incorporate a drum language that allows one to render the entire composition
using the voice. Support instruments—totodzi, kagan—are, in fact, named for their
basic rhythmic pattern. Slow Agbekor examples shown on below and on the next page provide
important insight into the depth of the Ewe drum language. Vocables ease the memorization
of long phrases, and provide an effective means of practicing away from the instrument.
A performance could, in fact, include the player reciting the phrases as they are rendered,
or reciting then playing to create more variety.
Solo drum set arrangement of bell, support drum, and master drum phrases.
In the 1950s, Ewe fisherman on expedition in Badagry, Western Nigeria, discovered Gahu
in its original, much slower, Nigerian form (called Kokosawa) and brought it back with them
to their native Ghanaian soil. Nigerian Kokosawa was adopted by the Anlo-Ewes who live
along the coastal region of Ghana. Gahu actually means "money dance." It makes the people
in the village feel happy; they offer money as praise and appreciation to the performers.
The Anlo-Ewes perform Gahu at twice the speed as Kokosawa. This drumset arrangement is
for the faster tempo.
: African and Indian Rhythm Concepts Treated as Piano Exercises