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July 18-25, 2015

Music Faculty & classes


Hilario Duran

Afro-Cuban Piano Montunos

Afro-Cuban Traditional Music Ensemble 1 & 2

Hilario Duran at the pianoHilario will be teaching a piano class and two sections of his traditional music ensemble each day. The piano montunos course will focus on the typical montunos used for different styles of traditional Cuban popular styles like Cha cha cha, Son Montuno, Guaracha, Guajira, Bolero, Afro (6/8 and 4/4), Rumba, Danzon and Contradanza. Typical progressions and variations, chord inversions, jazz voicings for major, minor, and dominant seventh chords, improvisation, and more may be covered. A piano lab with over 20 piano keyboards will be used for this class. Musicians taking this class should have some prior experience playing piano, but non-pianists are definitely welcome and encouraged to attend.

The traditional music ensemble is basically a band under Hilario's direction. Intermediate to advanced string, brass, woodwind, percussion, and vocal students will learn and perform traditional styles of Cuban music drawn from popular genres such as Cha cha cha, Son Montuno, Guaracha, Timba, etc. Hilario will be bringing some of his own charts, so students must be able to read music notation. Emphasis will be given to stylistic integrity, as well as melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic accuracy and improvisational techniques. Two sections of this class will be offered each day.

Calixto Oviedo

Drum Set, Timbales, Congas: Traditional Rhythms

Calixto Oviedo’s Drum Set, Timbales, Congas: Traditional Rhythms, class will cover a wide range of Afro-Cuban traditional rhythmic styles and forms for drum set, timbales, congas, and bongos/auxiliary percussion (when appropriate). After learning the traditional ways of playing, Calixto will show ways he has adapted these traditional rhythms for drum set.

Intermediate/Advanced Drum Set, Timbales, Congas: Timba

Calixto OviedoThe goal of this class is to help experienced drummers master the new Cuban styles and non-Latin drummers and arrangers master the intricacies of Cuban music.

Calixto will show what he plays for the head of a tune ("Marcha Abajo"), the chorus ("Marcha Arriba"), the "Mambo" section (when the horns are at their most active), the different breakdowns: "Muela," "Presion" and "Masacote" (which -- like funk breakdowns -- each has a particular richness and flavor distinct from other parts of a song), and finally the epic "Bomba" section, which is the wildly exciting percussive explosion that makes dancers really get moving.

Roman Diaz on bataRoman Diaz

Intermediate/Advanced Batá

Intermediate/Advanced Batá is an advanced drumming class for the orishas (Afro-Cuban religious drumming). Rhythms from the Oro seco, Oro Cantado, and Guemilere sections are commonly covered. Roman is from Havana and teaches that style of batá.

  • Roman Díaz is a master percussionist from Havana, where he was trained by elders in the fine arts of classic Afro-Cuban musical traditions. He has performed with groups including Raices Profunda, Grupo T con E, Ochestra Sublime, Yoruba Andabo, and Grupo Anaki. In the U.S., Diaz has collaborated with many musicians including Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Paquito D’Rivera, Juan Formell, Pedrito Martinez and Oriando “Puntilla” Rios.

Sandy Perez with cowbell
Sandy Perez

Intermediate/Advanced Folkloric Percussion

This class will focus on three styles from the Lucumi orisha drumming tradition: Bembe, Guiro, and Iyesa. Sandy is from the Matanzas province in Cuba and thus he will be teaching the Matanzas style. Bembe Macagua, Bembe Lucumi, and Bembe Obakoso are typically covered. Chekere instruction will be included in the class on Guiro. Sandy typically shows many caja (lead) drum parts and funky variations on all these styles. Always fun and always challenging.

  • Ramon "Sandy" Pérez joined Grupo Afro-Cuba de Matanzas at age 17, and within a few years he earned the positions of principal drummer and soloist. He was a featured artist at the 1996 Havana Jazz Festival and performed at the 1996 Afrocubanismo Festival in Banff, Canada. Although the roots of his techniques are founded in Afro-Cuban folkloric styles, Pérez's open-minded approach has enabled him to adapt to styles ranging from Cuban popular (salsa) to fusion and avant-garde jazz.

John Santos on congasJohn Santos

Survey of Afro-Cuban Popular Music

Afro-Cuban music is still the most popular and influential of all the music of Latin America. This six-segment lecture series will be based on listening to, and discussing recorded audio examples and will provide a concentrated overview of the genre with these themes:

  • Sacred Roots
  • From Danzon to Songo
  • Changüí and Son
  • Rumba and Conga de Comparsa
  • Afro-Cuban Jazz
  • Cuban Dance Music of the Last 40 Years

Introduction to Bembe

The bembé is a fundamental rhythm in Afro-Cuban music. It is the rhythm that informs the vast majority of 6/8 and 12/8 variations that are used in contemporary and traditional Latin Jazz and other music. In this class, we'll review and play several of the many variations that exist. We will be using tumbadoras, chekere and bell.

Both classes will be offered each day.

Michael Spiro playing conga
Michael Spiro

Intermediate/Advanced Rumba

In this class we will go through all three of the basic rumba forms -- yambu, guaguanco and columbia. We will focus not only on the quinto in each form, but on the "conversational" aspect of the drums as well. We will then turn our attention to how the drums speak within the framework of the singing style of each form.

Introduction to Rumba

In this class we will learn basic techniques and patterns for the classic rumba forms of yambu and guaguanco. We will focus on understanding how the patterns fit with clave, and how to maintain the basic swing of the rhythms.

David PenalozaDavid PeÑalosa

Clave - The Key to Understanding Afro-Cuban Rhythm

Two sections of this class will be offered each day.

Classes are suitable for all levels of ability. Written music examples will be handed out in class. The first four classes consist of lecture-demonstrations, and rhythmic instruction with class participation. Participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments to the last two classes, when soloing in-clave is explored.

The series will cover the importance of the key pattern in sub-Saharan African music, its consequential use in the popular music of Cuba, and North America, and the concept of clave as a modern branch of Western music theory and jazz theory. Participants will generate the rhythmic core of the music, by simultaneously clapping and stepping fundamental patterns. Clave theory becomes a visceral experience, when we create a three-part rhythmic counterpoint in our bodies. This contrapuntal structure will then be demonstrated in a wide range of recordings, from folkloric drumming, to Latin jazz. The two main modes of clave expression: the clave motif, and the offbeat/onbeat motif, will be examined in depth. The 3-2 and 2-3 clave concept and terminology will be explained.

The series concludes with two important sources for soloing in-clave: the guajeo, and rumba quinto. The guajeo is a typical Cuban ostinato melody, often consisting of arpeggiated chords in syncopated patterns. Rumba is to rhythm, what jazz is to harmony, and quinto is the lead drum of rumba. The rhythmic vocabulary of the quinto, with its sounding of offbeats and crossbeats, is a source for the most rhythmically dynamic phrases heard in salsa and Latin jazz solos. Even with today’s flashy percussion solos, where snare rudiments and other highly developed techniques are used, analysis of the prevailing accents will reveal an underlying quinto structure.

This course will cover a lot of territory and participants are encouraged to bring an audio recording device to each class.


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