Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Complete Rhythm: Maracas, son montuno

There are two possible tracks of development in Solares after completing this chapter on the backbeat timeline. One is to proceed to a new chapter on backbeat applications, the other is to move to exploring the complementary downbeat timeline.

Logically, it made sense to continue with the applications of the downbeat timeline, to climb as high up the Blooms Taxonomy pyramid as possible, until knowledge of the downbeat timeline became a rate-limiting requirement. And this was how it had been planned.

However things changed when I asked myself, "if Solares stopped tomorrow, what would be my regrets for not having achieved?" I counter-weighted the answers by putting myself in Solares participants' shoes and asking, "what would be the earliest greatest boost to their morale?"

The answer, loud and clear, was, "being able to play the full maraca rhythm."

The confidence boost in becoming a fully-fledged instrumentalist-dancer is inestimable. And we were only one step away from achieving it, to reaching that First State of Independence - the learning sequence would require a little bit of juggling around, but the broad strokes of development would remain intact.

So this is how it went.

Warm Up: Playing the maraca backbeat rhythm
Solo, to music. Caribbean sway basic, atiempo embodiment rhythm. Macho in non-dominant hand, hembra in dominant hand. Macho tones on the backbeats (beats 4 and 2), hembra tones on the backbeat upbeats (beats 4+ and 2+); hence the basic maraca backbeat rhythm is played as macho-hembra couplets on beats 4,4+ and  2,2+.

Exercise One: Maraca backbeats call, downbeats respond
Solo, to music. Caribbean sway basic, atiempo embodiment rhythm. As per 'Warm Up' above. In addition, I provided a single shaker tone on the downbeats (beats 1 and 3). Participants were encouraged to listen to the tones as a 'coro-pregón' or 'call-and-response'; participants played the 'call', I played the 'response'.

Briefing: The complete maraca rhythm, son montuno version
Backbeats: macho-hembra couplets on beats 4,4+ and  2,2+, played close to the body.
Downbeats: macho single tones on beats 1 and 3, placed slightly further away from the body.
The rhythm begins with the macho-hembra backbeat couplet on beats 4,4+

Complete rhythm is: 4,4+; 1; 2,2+; 3; (repeat)
Complete rhythm vocalisation is: "chik-a-chik / chik-a-chik" where:
  • the first "chik" denotes the backbeats (beats 4 and 2)
  • the "a" denotes the backbeat upbeats (beats 4+ and 2+)
  • the second "chik" denotes the downbeats (beats 1 and 3)
Exercise Two: Complete maraca rhythm, son montuno version
Solo, to music. Caribbean sway basic, atiempo embodiment rhythm. Playing the compete maraca rhythm as per briefing (above).

The past two month's work paid dividends. Every solares participant succeeded in this challenging task: each dancer was able to dance an atiempo rhythm on the embodiment timeline, simultaneously playing the son montuno maraca rhythm.

There's always more to do. But for that moment, it was a pleasure to revel in the success.


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