Relating Sound & Time

By Jerry Leake

Relating Sound & Time Musicians of any skill level will benefit from the concepts and rhythm principles presented in these pages. Exploring the possibilities of theory and practice has heightened my musical sensibilities in profound ways. It is my hope that this sharing of perspectives will expand the reader's creative imagination and awareness about some of the world's great music.

You may also purchase the audio (MP3) for all notated music and rhythm theory exercises separately.
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"This is a monumental work! The first half of this book deals with Mr. Leake's philosophy of life and how it relates to his ongoing musical journey, while the second half is a transcribed culmination of his time living and studying in West Africa and India. Two accompanying CDs correspond to the notated second half of the book and clearly define all the rhythmic components and vocalizations of the many beats. Mr. Leake conveys the essence of his studies when speaking of the importance of instrument tuning in Indian music, and getting to the "heart of your drum," a relaxed yet focused inner approach to African drumming. Above all, I was impressed with a short chapter on strategic breathing; more natural breath intake is suggested for general well-being and ultimately better music performance. 5 STARS!"
David Licht
Modern Drummer Magazine, August 2005

"Jerry Leake's presentation of the Karnatic rhythmic Solfege is an amazing opening to the world of rhythm. It's organized and made easily understandable while it also stimulates your own imagination to apply and make up your own exercises. Studying this material will help the student develop a stronger sense of the basic pulse and perform more complex sub-divisions. It will also help the student hear and understand what goes on in an ensemble setting in ANY style from jazz to Latin to classical. These studies will inspired me tremendously both the performer and the composer. Most highly recommended for both students and educators."
Bruno Råberg
Bassist/composer and Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music



CD Track Listing
Part I: Aesthetics and Functions of Musical Sound
Tuning In
The Nature of Sound
Sound and Style
Sound Advice
The Physics of Sound
Scoring for Emotion
Sound as Language
Healing Sounds
Possession Through Sound

Part II: Concepts and Principles of Musical Time
Universal Time
Chronos and Christos Time
Breathing Time
Remembering Time
In Time
Principles of West African Rhythm
Principles of North Indian Rhythm
Principles of South Indian Rhythm

Part III: Into the Groove and Loving It
Index of Recorded Music/Glossaries
General Index

I am a percussionist. I am also an explorer, and devoted student to all my teachers who have shared their musical traditions with me. This book is a collection of essays, philosophies, and rhythm exercises assimilated during twenty-five years of musical involvement. I do not introduce specific traditional repertoire, rather the phenomenon of music will be explored as a form of speculation in terms of sound and time.

In this book I will be analyzing the following traditions: North Indian and South Indian music (Hindustani and Karnatak), as well as African Dagomba and Ewe music found in northern and coastal Ghana. Although very different in their processes of learning and performing, Indian and African traditions share common ideals about the intimate relationship between the fundamental elements of music; presented herein are observations about how sound and time are the traditions themselves.

For years, I took the elements of sound and time for granted, failing to relate to them on a higher aesthetic level, focusing most of my early training on developing strong playing technique and learning vast amounts of repertoire. I was, in essence, treading on the surface of a musical ocean. Recently, I began asking myself questions about what sets one player apart from another, and accepting the challenge of what lies below the surface.

Even though I am writing from a percussionist's perspective, I hope to convey the experience of my personal evolution as a more universal experience shared by many musicians. Colleagues and friends contributed ideas and observations that helped me broaden my awareness and deepen some discussions. Using the material presented in this book I encourage you tap into your own musical sensibilities for discovering what sounds and rhythms pull at you like magnets, compelling your participation in music.

This section is constructed in the form of an inventory of sonic possibilities and applications which are broken down into nine interrelated Chapters. They are part of the same overall 'map' - a series of short essays that provide general introductions into much larger topics. The manner in which musical sound is perceived is subjective - we each have opinions and insights that could be collected and assembled as I have done with this project. Early on in this project I realized the incredible depth of the subject of musical sound, forcing me to decide on certain subjects where I would spend more time than others, always conscious of my desire not to overshoot the mark by seeking to grasp what cannot be grasped.

Many colleagues contributed ideas and observations that helped me broaden my awareness and deepen some discussions. By swimming deeper into your own musical ocean you will discover what sounds pull at you like magnets, compelling your participation in a particular music tradition.

Chapter 1 "Tuning In" describes a profound concert event that took place in India when the great Hindustani singer Bhimsen Joshi spent hours on stage perfecting the tuning four large tamboras (drones), then tuning himself into the music before finally singing his opening note - a singular sound that had magically transformed the audience. I also discuss some of the effects that mantras, chanting, and Krishna Consciousness has on practitioners who tune in to sound as one means of achieving spiritual awareness.

Chapter 2 "The Nature of Sound" is comprised of eight parts: nature's instruments, musical symbolism, Indian tabla, bird songs, Pygmies of Central Africa (as one example), sound used as a warning, sound used to show power, and sound used to raise chi. My purpose is to introduce examples of musical instruments and compositions derived from and influenced by nature.

Chapter 3 "Sound and Style" describes the magnetic pull that first compels a musician to recreate sounds heard from the masters. I briefly discuss oboe, crash cymbals, timpani, and, in more detail, my direct involvement with learning to play vibraphone. Following this are examples of oral traditions that use the voice for learning any musical instrument.

Chapter 4 "Sound Advice" contains conversations with tabla master, Swapan Chaudhuri, and Ali Akbar Khan, master sarodist and pioneer of Indian music. Their words of advice and encouragement have helped me to shape my attitude and approach to the tabla, and to the ancient tradition which I sought to learn from the outside looking in. The constant deconstruction/reconstruction process is expressed in relation to learning Indian and West African music. The wisdom of my African teacher, Dolsi-naa Abubakari Lunna (the primary inspiration for this book), is also heard prominently within these pages.

Chapter 5 "Physics of Sound" introduces aesthetical observations for understanding the movements of the human body, as well as remedies for solving universal problems when playing a musical instrument.

Chapter 6 "Scoring for Emotion" includes television and cinematic examples of sound which conveys the emotion of images, with a single sound often forming a sonic trademark to the visuals. I introduce the concept of Rasa which fundamentally describes the emotional aspects of Indian music. In this Chapter I demonstrate the emotional impact of sound within visually dramatic situations, as well as images that grow from the listener's imagination.

Chapter 7 "Healing Sounds" introduces a variety of sonic applications by healing practitioners, as well as sounds that affect us subconsciously as we live our everyday lives. Included are discussions on the magic of sound, music therapists, sonic environments, personal taste, chakras, and the healing drum.

Chapter 8 "Sound as Language" contains insights and transcriptions on the application of drums sounds which form a language to communicate, not only rhythms and grooves, but concrete thoughts and ideas. The 'talking drum' of the Dagomba people of Northern Ghana represents the highest form of sound which closely mimics the human voice. Next, I discuss sound as onomatopoeia for learning and playing tabla and other percussion instruments.

Chapter 9 "Possession Through Sound" is highly secretive among practitioners, preventing an 'outsider' from being able to get close to sacred religions beyond the role of observer. My presentation draws on actual experience during my studies in Ghana, illustrating points with journal entries, and other insights. I also discuss aspects of possession and trance with the Minianka people of Mali, as well as the Cuban religion known as Santería.

The material in this second section on time consists of nearly 200 pages of West African, North Indian, and South Indian rhythm theory principles presented in concise, easy-to-follow exercises. These exercise models - using clapping, recitation, and counting patterns - will strengthen the rhythm foundation of any musician, train the logical mind, inspire creative ideas, and increase player confidence in any performing context.

Chapter 1 on Universal Time briefly discusses Einstein's discoveries about how time moves at different speeds within the universe. I also introduce the concept of time's arrow and time's cycle as it relates to Indian music.

Chapter 2 introduces two different philosophies of musical time: chronos time (clock time/machine time) and christos time (spiritual time/human time). Chronos Time refers to musical time based on the accurate and consistent pulse of clocks. We live in a chronos-based society; seemingly every task that fills our day is assigned a specific time. Christos time, however, is empowered time which does not adhere to rigid ticking units of measurement. It is a more instinctive and internal sense of time.

Chapter 3 "Breathing Time" further evolves the concepts of christos and chronos time by discussing how musical time can breathe with a sense of elasticity, and how the space between musical sound directly affects the emotional impact music has on the listener.

Chapter 4 "Remembering Time" examines issues of how memory affects musicians' and listeners' perception of musical time. Successful music involves a repetition of musical ideas which the mind categorizes as chunks of events that can be interrelated, or can be transitional to other events.

Chapter 5 "In Time" contains general observations of how the muscles and mind work together to produce musical sound that is placed 'in time.'

Chapter 6 "Principles of West African Rhythm" is divided into three sections that discuss aspects of African rhythm from conceptual and practical points of view: a) off-beat timing sensibilities; b) binary rhythm and ternary rhythm structures; and c) cross-rhythm/cross-meter.

Chapter 7 "Principles of North Indian Rhythm" divided into interrelated sections which discuss aspects of North Indian rhythm from theoretical and practical points of view: rhythm cycles; keeping tal; laya, chhand, rhythm jatis; exercises in tintal; ginti (number compositions); and tihai (rhythm cadences).

Chapter 8 "Principles of South Indian Rhythm" divided into two introductory sections: The Classical Rhythm of South India; and Contemporary Applications of Karnatak Rhythm Scales. Section I includes a comparison/ contrast of North and South Indian music; metric concepts of Karnatak music; Solkhattu lessons in Adi Tala (4+2+2); Jathi in '3' with clapping pattern. Section II contains a collection of 'rhythm scales' which are to be recited while maintaining a steady clapping pulse. These scales place the student into a sort of 'rhythm boot camp' to train them to be comfortable with any degree of rhythm tension.

Musicians of any skill level will benefit from the concepts and rhythm principles presented in these pages. Exploring the possibilities of theory and practice has heightened my musical sensibilities in profound ways. It is my hope that this sharing of perspectives will expand the reader's creative imagination and awareness about some of the world's great music.

Welcome to this first edition of Relating Sound & Time. As I continue to mature and evolve as a musician, future editions will follow. This work, indeed, represents only the beginning of an unending journey into music.
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