Playing in Fix

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Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:43 pm

I realize this is a decidedly westernized way to view Afro-Cuban music, but playing in “Fix” (half way between 4/4 and 6/8) is quite intriguing for me. I number of years ago I took a class on the history of afrocuban music with this guy ( http://finearts.uvic.ca/music/contacts/ ... loss.shtml ). He had a graduate student that had figured out a way to track and graph clave rhythms. He showed is a really interesting finding; simply put, as 4/4 rumba clave was played faster and faster, it gravitated towards a 6/8 pattern, like that in Abaqua or as part of a 6/8 bell pattern. For me in demonstrated a continuity from Yambu to Guaguanco through to Columbia.

I’ve come to believe that the distinction between 4 and 6 is a western ideology that has been imposed on African music, and afrocuban music, as I’ve experienced “fix” while playing in both settings. I’ve also heard afrocuban rhythms where the supporting parts are mixed together, for example, a 6/8 bell pattern with the 4/4 cata pattern from guaguanco, or a Columbia cata pattern with guaguanco clave etc. Unfortunately I don't have an example on hand. I think this may be why the term "cycle" is used i.e. bantu cycle, rumba cycle as it denotes more of a continuous and circular understanding of the rhythms, but I may be wrong. Being a western trained musician, it is quite a fun effort to work with other players to find “fix”, it creates such an interesting tension in my mind trying to play that way.

So, a couple questions:
For those of you experienced playing in “fix” does it get easier and eventually come to feel like any other normal time signature?

Do any of you have some examples of afrocuban rhythms in “fix” that you would like to share?

Any other comments are welcome as well.

RR
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby 440ranch » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:46 pm

Michael Spiro's book, "The Conga Drummer's Guidebook" has a section on playing in "fix".
(Unfortunately, it is beyond my level of understanding, and I can't comment any further.)
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:18 pm

Michael also has a couple of very simple examples on his website.

Of the rhythms I've played with ensembles for long enough to really get into, I found Palo pushed over to 4/4 from 2/3 (or 6/8, I think depending how your counting it) the easiest. It took our little group a while to get the supporting parts to stay in a 3 feel and once going it took just a nudge on the tumba to push them back and forth. Throwing the columbia cata part onto guaguanco has an interesting effect as well and pushes the supporting parts into quite a swing - this one is quite easy to experiment with if you have enough people, and their interested in doing it.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby JohnnyConga » Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:34 pm

there is NO terminology of the word 'fix' in Cuban drumming..Michael came up with that term in writing his book...a concept he describes in his book...Look in Cuba do u think these guys are counting, or thinking of "fix"?...that is an 'academic' approach to understanding the drumming of Rumba..u want to learn about Rumba?..."fix' your butt hahahaa in a real Rumba and that is how u learn....NO book can replace the real thing..nothing like 'practical application' ...that is How it really works!...immerse yourself..u have to 'live it" that is what real Rumba is all about ..life!...
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby Kaban » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:18 pm

Is "fix" another word for "feel"?
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:31 pm

JohnnyConga wrote:there is NO terminology of the word 'fix' in Cuban drumming..Michael came up with that term in writing his book...a concept he describes in his book...Look in Cuba do u think these guys are counting, or thinking of "fix"?...that is an 'academic' approach to understanding the drumming of Rumba..u want to learn about Rumba?..."fix' your butt hahahaa in a real Rumba and that is how u learn....NO book can replace the real thing..nothing like 'practical application' ...that is How it really works!...immerse yourself..u have to 'live it" that is what real Rumba is all about ..life!...


Ya, Johnny, that's what I said in my original post.

It doesn't change the fact that when western trained musicians encounter the music they interpret it through what they know. As I referenced in my second post here, I've worked on the timing quite a bit in "practical applications". For a dude who say's he doesn't yell at people or blast them when teaching, you sure tend to come across harsh when something doesn't sit with your view. Perhaps you want to call out Michael Spiro for attempting to make this feel accessible?

Kaban - "fix" refers to a time signature feel that lies 1/2 way between 4/4 and 6/8 when you blend the words "four" and "six" together, you get "fix". For a western trained musician it is a deliciously esoteric feel to both african and cuban music. To african's and afro-cuban's, well, it's more common and less unusual. You'll never hear "fix" in a salsa band, and very rarely will you hear it in a rumba, but when you get deeper into some older rumba recordings etc it starts to become more common. I've also trained and played quite a bit with west africans and they often "push" the rhythm back and forth from "fix" to 4/4 or from 6/8 to "fix" and then back. At first it's a bit of a mind-F**k, because it's difficult to determine what time signature they're playing in, because us westerners don't have a way to write it down.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby JohnnyConga » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:04 pm

Yo Bro u taking it way tooooooooooo personal..and who is yelling???...it's just my opinion..it don't mean jack..if u agree fine if u dont cool..Im not here attacking anyone...you have your way I have mine..so let's keep the respect mutual and don't misinterpret what i said..tks..Michael and me are cool, and I have a LOT of respect for the Brother....and I also have his book...
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby JohnnyConga » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:11 pm

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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:24 pm

JohnnyConga wrote:Yo Bro u taking it way tooooooooooo personal..and who is yelling???...it's just my opinion..it don't mean jack..if u agree fine if u dont cool..Im not here attacking anyone...you have your way I have mine..so let's keep the respect mutual and don't misinterpret what i said..tks..Michael and me are cool, and I have a LOT of respect for the Brother....and I also have his book...


I said you came across as harsh, not that you're yelling. I find the topic of interest, and I wasn't trained in africa or cuba, so I have a western take on "fix". If you want to laugh at me for it, do it privately or send me a PM and we can sort it out there. I have done nothing to disrespect you JC, so I'm at a loss as to where the "keep the respect mutual" thing comes from. If you have something meaningful to contribute regarding learning how to play in the feel of "fix" bring it on!
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby bongosnotbombs » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:26 pm

You always hear "fix" in rumba, actually the real term is called swing. The clave is swung and the way one does the manoteo for at least Matanzas style guaguanco is completely swung. The way the quinto switches between triplet phrases and 1/8 note phrases is swing, and if the rumba ain't got it, it don't mean a thing.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=5643&hilit=clave&start=15

As for playing in between 4 and 6, why do you think they call it CINCOpation?
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby JohnnyConga » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:31 pm

Brother I have been here as a moderator for 11 years..obviously u dont know me....Look your entitled to your opinion as I am mine...don't make it personal ok?...Brother I don't laugh at anyone..ok..ur assuming way too much here...I am a 'proven' educator...I have been doing this for 48 years, just so u know a very small bit about me...I have played with them all including Mongo, Willie Bobo, Sergio Mendes, Santana, Eddie Palmieri, and I am still open to learning, and Im 64 going to be 65 years old...that's all I have to say...your allowed to believe what you want and learn the way you want, Im not taking that away from anyone.....
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby JohnnyConga » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:34 pm

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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:40 pm

bongosnotbombs wrote:You always hear "fix" in rumba, actually the real term is called swing. The clave is swung and the way one does the manoteo for at least Matanzas style guaguanco is completely swung. The way the quinto switches between triplet phrases and 1/8 note phrases is swing, and if the rumba ain't got it, it don't mean a thing.

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=5643&hilit=clave&start=15

As for playing in between 4 and 6, why do you think they call it CINCOpation?


I get the swing and syncopation bits. What are your thought about throwing a 6/8 part such as the cata part from Columbia onto a guaguanco in 4/4. It's the mixing and matching of the different parts within a rhythm that I'm talking about. I think this pushes beyond "swing" or syncopation, it certainly does in the west african groups I've played in. I know syncopation - pushing past that into this "fix" zone is something different, isn't it?.

Having just read your thread and distain for Michael's term "fix" your post makes more sense. I was first introduced to the concept by a cuban timbale player who gave me some lessons a few years ago. As he was formally trained in a music school in Cuba, I took his information to have some value. I see there are different takes on that.
Last edited by rhythmrhyme on Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby jorge » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:42 pm

JC, the links to the audio clips in that rumbaclave blog don't work, so we can't hear what he is talking about.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby bongosnotbombs » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:55 pm

Columbia cata really only feels like 6 in Columbia, in guaguanco the downbeats are downbeats, and the clave part of the cata pattern tends to match the rumba clave being played.

You don't have David Penalosa's book do you. He gives the best explanation. The basis of African rhythms is the polyrhythm 3 over 2 or 2 over 3. Some parts of a rhythm will mark the divisions of 3 and 2 simultaneously where they occur in the rhythm cycle. And that there are primary divisions of a tertiary or duple rhythm and there are secondary divisions...and on and on...

the standard bell pattern is the best example of this....basically one plays duple and tertiary divisions at the same time, it's inherent in the rhythm, which is part of the reason 12/8 rhythms can be cut up so many ways...1,2,3,4,6,8,12.

anyways, get the book, read it, you'll understand then...
Last edited by bongosnotbombs on Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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