Friday, October 06, 2006

Playing the Dashboard

Bueno. Este instrumento is a lot of fun to play. No lo puedo creer. I just learned a new pattern, which I have been practicing all over the place. When I say "en todas partes", I mean exactly that - on my desk, on my car's dashboard, etc. One of the muy chévere things about percussion, I am just learning, is that you can play it anywhere, not just where you actually have your instrument. Claro, el cajón es muy fácil llevar conmigo - pero en el carro, sitting at a traffic light, I can play the dashboard or even my leg. If I had a dog, I'd probably be playing the drum on his back. Some day I'll probably play on one of my kids' heads. (Don't think I'm cruel - I don't mean actually playing loud enough so it hurts them. Heck, I play on my own head now. It's just running through practice in the hand positions. I used to "practice" clarinet in the same way - running my fingers up and down on a flat surface.)

Of course, the idea of "practicing" instruments when you don't actually have them with you is not new - remember the "Think System" of Professor Harold Hill of the "Music Man" movie? - but I am just realizing how much better it works cuando toque percusión., because you can actually hear yourself play to some extent. Playing desktop clarinet, or steering wheel guitar does not work nearly as well.

I would like to describe the patterns as I learn them, as a possible aid to help somebody else who's just learning as I am. Unfortunately, I have never seen a Latin percussion tab format. Vamos a probarlo:


L is the "low tone" and H is the "high tone." (I guess I could add others - heel, side, etc.) R and L are which hand to play with. I hope that makes sense. It doesn't really capture the picture I see in my mind of how you play this. That's another thing I am realizing about playing percussion - the "picture" I get of how I'm playing. With most other instruments, it's mostly by feel, although as I think about it, I get a picture of them too. For example, I get a very clear picture in my mind of a mandolin fingerboard, and the shapes of not only the chords but also where the notes are. I've thought before that it kind of "feels like" a piano keyboard has been superimposed over the mandolin strings, with the piano keys at various fret position/string combinations. It's not that I actually see a piano keyboard, of course - more just sort of a feeling, kind of like a dream.

I'd be interested to hear about how others picture drum patterns in their heads, or any other sugerencias for learning patterns. It seems there has to be some kind of system people have - how else do you remember all these different patterns?

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