Drumming is as universal and personal as life itself.
This book comes from a great sense of passion and love – a “love story” dedicated to my intimate and lifelong relationship with drumming.
After years of gathering many questions about rhythms and drumming, this book became something that I needed to do. Writing it has not only helped answer most of these questions, but also allowed me to go deeper into understanding the perception and awareness behind rhythm, including its emotional and spiritual aspects.
Some of these questions include: How do we identify and synchronize the sounds that we have inside of ourselves with those sounds that we make through the Drums? How can we use tradition as a foundation and not necessarily as a destination? How can we honor tradition while liberating ourselves from its patterns and rhythms, thus creating new possibilities? How can we change the perception of a single or multiple rhythmic patterns? What are the emotional and spiritual forces that drive us to keep drumming? How does this force affect us and the way in which we play?
While considering these and many other questions as they rumbled inside of my head, I felt a great sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. These are thoughts and reflections I have experienced in drumming – notions that are always present in everything I do, think and play. Therefore, and after all, it became a grand collection of rhythmic suggestions and confessions I feel compelled to make.
This book honors the relationship of patterns, as in the chapter, “The Cáscara / The Clave, Their Relationship and Beyond.” It also honors the work of great and influential drummers such as José Luis Quintana “Changuito,” Max Roach and George Lawrence Stone, not only by recognizing their individual and significant contributions to drumming, but often by recreating and suggesting other rhythmic possibilities drawn from their vast legacies.
Furthermore, the book introduces a wide range of exercises for the development of independence and coordination on the Drum set, as well as other technical exercises for the weaker hand and Bass drum control. Some of these exercises have been presented through the use of fundamental patterns such as the Clave, the Cáscara, the Cowbell and other patterns from Cuba, where I come from.
I have also included a more personal analysis of the invisible process behind drumming; encouraging a creative understanding of drumming, while touching the very individual and unique experience behind it. I encourage the reader to rethink and analyze rhythms from different perspectives, including the manipulation of pulses and patterns to create rhythmic illusions and other rhythmic qualities, as in the chapter, “Perception and Awareness of Rhythms.”
It is very important to note that this book is not intended to focus only on drumming techniques, on plain rhythms or patterns, let alone on a preconceived set of rules, but also to focus on the inevitable questions about what lies beyond and beneath rhythms and patterns – what we can bring to them, and most importantly how it can be done?
The pleasure of conducting master classes, lessons and lectures around the world has given me the opportunity to explain the what, how and why of the way that I play. This has permitted me to embrace drumming from a holistic perspective, while listening to great rhythmic details within and outside myself. Hence, it has been both a tremendous challenge and an immensely gratifying experience.
This book includes 338 audio samples plus 33 video clips. Playing and recording these examples was absolutely the most delightful experience of all. It is my hope that every single audio track brings to life the essence and rhythmic meaning of each particular example.