Playing in Fix

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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby pcastag » Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:51 pm

If you want to hear some fix just listen to some bata music, there are sections of ochosi and san lazaro in the oro seco that gave me fits when I was studyng in Habana. to me we were switching from 4 to 6, to my teachers nothing was changing. Took a few years and a lot of listening for it to really settle in, and I'm sure I still don't have it. A lot of this has to do with just relaxing and letting it breathe and fall in place naturally. Sueltelo! The command I heard over and over from my teacher and his kids.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby Quinto Governor II » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:09 pm

jorge wrote:
Quinto Governor II wrote:My simple mind says to me why can't charts be written in clave if it is such an exact musical reality? If phrases are started and ended within 2 bars are they naturally in clave?

All good Cuban timba charts are written in clave. Many classically or other professional conservatory-trained musicians (horns, percussion, piano, bass,etc) can play them. Very few of those conservatory-trained musicians, other than the Cubans (raised in Cuba), can IMPROVISE in clave, even if they can play a complex chart in clave. Simply being 2 bars long does not mean a phrase is in clave. The accents, spaces and feel of the instrument have to fit with all the other instruments and vocals that are all in clave too.

RhythmRhyme wrote:A funny thing for me is that when I went to train with a classically trained cuban timbale player, a guy who had been formally trained in music schools in cuba and really could play any percussion instrument well, one of the first things he talked about was "fix".

Who was that? Was he born and raised in Cuba? Of course this is only my experience but I never met a Cuban who talked about "fix", most rumberos I know don't even use concepts like 4, 6 or downbeat in their discussions of rumba. Only one of the best rumba drummers I have known even knows (knew) how to read and write music.


Would anyone here try to learn to sing opera from books or YouTube without studying with an opera singer? Unlikely you would ever get to the Met. Even classical violinists who want to learn to play bluegrass fiddle would generally study with bluegrass fiddlers. I never heard anyone play good Puerto Rican plena who had not studied, played and hung out with really good pleneros. So what makes people think you can learn to play, sing or dance rumba without learning directly from rumberos?



QG wrote:
The first time I heard the notion of American musicians not being able to play in clave, let alone improvise in it, was in reference to Latin jazz. Many of these musicians I assume could read, so why wouldn't it just be written out for them? It may have had more to do with not knowing Latin montunos or melodies' than understanding how to adhere to clave. This notion may have come from early casual collaborations with Latin and American musicians who just never intended for the compositions to be strictly defined as a "Latin" composition. Maybe the Americans regarded them as jazz compositions with a Latin tinge as Jelly Roll Morton is said to have coined. I've seen young American musicians at jam sessions play Afro-Blue and Footprints without a problem. Would this be considered improvising in clave? If a non-Latin musician is drawn to the music they will learn to play in that style. Take Jane Bunnett as a good example. One thing I think we all may agree on is that to play this music well you have to love it, and if you love it, you will immerse yourself in it - not just dabble in it.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:19 pm

pcastag wrote:If you want to hear some fix just listen to some bata music, there are sections of ochosi and san lazaro in the oro seco that gave me fits when I was studyng in Habana. to me we were switching from 4 to 6, to my teachers nothing was changing. Took a few years and a lot of listening for it to really settle in, and I'm sure I still don't have it. A lot of this has to do with just relaxing and letting it breathe and fall in place naturally. Sueltelo! The command I heard over and over from my teacher and his kids.


:lol: :lol: :lol: The "fits" are exactly what I'm talking about, it's such a funny mind bending experience the first time you find yourself dropped in the middle of this push pull of the swing. Totally crazy making for the first while. thanks pcastag - I think you really get what I'm talking about. When I've been playing in groups and it starts to happen I just start grinning and giggling like a school boy - I find it so bloody entertaining and fun. I haven't had much time with, or exposure to, bata drumming even though I recently got a very nice solid shell set. I know that when I do delve into it I'll need to give the playing my full and undivided attention for a few years. It's a commitment I'll take seriously when I have more time.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby Quinto Governor II » Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:46 pm

Derbeno wrote:This phenomena under discussion is not unique to Rumba or Cuban music. You may think you are playing any of the Sambas with the right feel only for a Brazilian to shake their head, show you what you should do and you don't hear the difference!

Being from the Islands I know instantly if it's a non-caribbean (being PC here) is playing or singing Reggae. I am sure this applies to many other genres with a few exceptions.

African American music also comes mind. Think of Gospel for example.

Even those who study and immerse themselves a lifetime may come very close but there is still that 'je ne sias quoi' missing at times.

Here are two example below of Spiro and Jesus Diaz playing Guarapachangeo respectively. Don't get me wrong, Mike is a master, but he just can't swing it compared to Jesus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya_5kTpyt5w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSqwiaT2K9k




QG wrote:


I prefer to use the term funky to describe Cuban music. Swing to me is a more specific of a feel. Funky is all-encompassing. Jesus plays with feel for sure. I'm not sure your example for comparison is a good one. Even feel is subjective. I can't assess the playing without an accompaniment that adds a context. If they both played the same pattern that would be easier to make some kind of judgment. For an example of Jesus's feel, I would recommend watching the ensemble columbia piece they did on congamasterclass as the group Oba Nile. Jesus describes it as a tonada that moves into a columbia. Roman Diaz and Sandy Perez and some others are part of this group. Jesus's soloing using 2 congas is hypnotic, but have to be a subscriber to see it. Don't think that one is on youtube.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby bongosnotbombs » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:56 pm

In rumba there is no 4 or 6, there is only clave. You play rumba with the clave, that is the only meter.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby jorge » Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:33 am

rhythmrhyme wrote:
jorge wrote:Who was that? Was he born and raised in Cuba? Of course this is only my experience but I never met a Cuban who talked about "fix", most rumberos I know don't even use concepts like 4, 6 or downbeat in their discussions of rumba. Only one of the best rumba drummers I have known even knows (knew) how to read and write music.


Hey Jorge - it's Jose, here's a link to his CV: http://www.richardaloysius.com/pdfs/JOS ... le2007.pdf He's not a rumbero, and that wasn't my point. Simply that there are different approaches to learning.

Thanks, I will check out his work. That is interesting. I never heard a Cuban talk about "fix" or even use the word and I wonder where he learned it.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:57 am

You know Jorge, he's been out of Cuba and amongst western trained musicians for a long time. It's entirely possible he picked it up from Mike Spiro or something and just thought it was a good way to facilitate understanding.

Jose was an excellent teacher for me. He very effectively bridged the previous "rumbero" learning I had done with a Cuban Rumbero who didn't read or write music and was VERY traditional in his teaching. I hit a wall with this teacher and Jose helped me break through it. I fully appreciate the folkloric point of view that the only meter is clave and I've had this very firmly drilled into me as well. It did nothing to change my lifetime of westernized learning, writing music, reading music etc. When I met Jose, he gave me everything in notation and provided very transparent explanations of Cuban Swing - it was a total ah-ha moment.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby pcastag » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:24 am

Chuck Berry plays in "fix" . Check it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wENL7qRxlvA
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby pcastag » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:28 am

Alex Acuna described fix in Brasilian music as equivalant to how an egg rolls. Funky.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby pcastag » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:49 am

yeah check out chuck. swingin.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:26 am

pcastag wrote:Alex Acuna described fix in Brasilian music as equivalant to how an egg rolls. Funky.


That's a great description - like a giant slow rolling torqued up egg driven by a dozen or more players. Back and forth in a steady but somewhat unpredictable manner through the swing.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby davidpenalosa » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:12 am

A couple of years ago at the Humboldt Afro-Cuban workshop (http://www.humboldt.edu/afrocuban/), Michael Spiro and I gave a two part lecture/demonstration titled "Swing, the elusive feel." I demonstrated how basic swing motifs (or feels if you prefer), are generated by cross-rhythms such as three-against-two (3:2). I also demonstrated how alternating between 4/4 and 12/8 generate a swing, and how the strokes of some patterns, such as rumba clave, may fall in-between the triple and duple pulse "grids."

Michael demonstrated the phenomenon of playing in-between the "grid," which of course, is what he refers to as fix. He also talked about the practical application of this feeling. Michael's term fix, has been a helpful aid in conveying a very important, but difficult technique, used in the performance of what he calls Afro-centric music.

Kaban wrote:Is "fix" another word for "feel"?


"Fix" is an important feel in a lot of the music.

bongosnotbombs wrote:You always hear "fix" in rumba, actually the real term is called swing.


Right on Bongosnotbombs. If one is not that comfortable with the term fix, it's cool; we have a synonym that comes out of the African American tradition—swing. The term swing goes way back. It is deeply imbedded in the jazz lexicon.

“If you don’t feel [swing], you’ll never know what it is”—Louis Armstrong.
"It don't mean a thing, if it aint got that swing"—Duke Ellington.

The Duke and Pops.jpg
Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.


As I see it, the exact same cross-rhythms that generate clave, also generate swing. This can be easily demonstrated. In the following example, the three strokes of a displaced 3:2 fragment (top) provide a swung substitute for three strokes in straight 4/4 (bottom).

swing.jpg
Bottom: even duple subdivisions of the beat. Top: swung correlative—the contrasting of duple and triple subdivisions of the beat.


The New Harvard Dictionary of Music has an excellent definition of swing:

The New Harvard Dictionary of Music wrote:SWING: An intangible rhythmic momentum in jazz. Swing defies analysis; claims to its presence may inspire arguments. But it is meaningful as a general concept: in swing and bebop, ‘swinging’ triplet subdivisions contrast with duple subdivisions.


"Intangible." Yes, there is no developed Cuban terminology for what we are talking about, except perhaps in Cuban academia.

In many, if not most sub-Saharan African cultures, where this music first arose, there is no word for rhythm, or even music. It is simply considered an embodiment of the people.

While I find this topic fascinating to think and talk about, I have found that any sense of authentic feel I have been able to replicate, came directly from playing with people who had that feel.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby jorge » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:39 pm

davidpenalosa wrote: ...While I find this topic fascinating to think and talk about, I have found that any sense of authentic feel I have been able to replicate, came directly from playing with people who had that feel...

My experience exactly, and I think a core truth with most ethnic music, including Eurocentric classical music. The ability to improvise with originality within that feel, however, depends a lot on the skills, talent and motivation of the individual musician as well as the cultural environment in which he or she plays, learns and lives.
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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby rhythmrhyme » Thu Apr 04, 2013 6:20 pm

what!? you mean that if I spend all my time in the basement, reading notation and trying to get the "feel", I won't magically start speaking spanish or french and playing rumba and west african music as though I grew up in cuba or guinea!? :shock: I guess I wasted all that money at the tanning salon then!

Damn, I guess I may need to get out more often :D Perhaps my mom was right, all that playin' with myself isn't good for me :lol:

Just kiddin' guys, nice post David - thanks for your input!!

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Re: Playing in Fix

Postby davidpenalosa » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:24 pm

rhythmrhyme wrote:what!? you mean that if I spend all my time in the basement, reading notation and trying to get the "feel", I won't magically start speaking spanish or french and playing rumba and west african music as though I grew up in cuba or guinea!? :shock:


:lol:

Anyone who has referred to "the one," 3-2 or 2-3 clave, or even simply spoken of clave as a concept, has used a tool of music theory that is not a part of traditional rumba, samba, or any drum system found in sub-Saharan Africa. It's only when people hear theoretic concepts that are beyond what they consider to be practically applicable to playing the music, that they feel the need to point out the limitations of theory.

Being a super theory nerd myself, I feel obliged to point out the advantages of rote learning, so that I will not be mistaken for someone who is strictly an observer and not a participant.
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