Doubles

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Doubles

Postby Greensail » Thu Apr 15, 2021 2:00 am

Hi everyone, Been pretty quiet here at congaplace and I will say I miss the frequency of new posts. Anyway, I trust everyone is well as we edge towards daylight hopefully nearing the end of the pandemic. Feels good to have both vaccine jabs. My mates and I are starting to look forward to playing out for an audience again in the near future.
Anyway, I'm looking for some advice. I've been working a lot on playing doubles, have gotten pretty smooth on the bounce, as well as a decent and consistent sound with tones, slaps, and bass notes. My question is how and in what context is this skill best used? I easily appreciate using it to fill an extra note on a fill but that seems more what a paradiddle is for. Are they used to increase the speed of notes in rolls? Honestly, when I use that, my rolls while fast are certainly not as smooth and even as a r-l roll. Are there rhythms that highlight or may help me incorporate more fully? Any suggestions?
Thanks.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Thomas Altmann » Thu Apr 15, 2021 5:54 pm

Hi Greensail,

this is no answer to your question. Like you, I'm waiting for someone who has some explanation. Like you, I can play singles fast enough to compete with any doubles (except my own). Clearly, double stroke rolls have a different expressive quality, so there must be appropriate applications. To me, double stroke rolls sound more machine-like, almost merciless, and aggressive. Now, agressiveness doesn't have to be something negative, particularly as far as drumming is concerned.

What emotional quality do double stroke rolls incorporate for you?

We should consider that double stroke rolls are not traditionally part of the conga vocabularly. They come from the martial repertoire of the snare or side drum. In drum set playing, they may at times appear in solo passages like fill-ins. This is not exactly transferrable to the conga drum. Whenever a conga player chooses to play a fill-in, he/she should take care to not clash with the drum set or timbales player.

The best start might be to study the pioneers and practitioners like Giovanni. I think Angá used it, too; but with Angá, I also hear a lot of Changuito's left-hand "mano secreta", which was more or less the forerunner to this technique. Pedrito Matrínez uses doubles effectively and very musically at moments where they really make sense. More than any other feature, the use of double strokes are marking the so-called new school of conga playing. After all, you may ask yourself: Does that fit my own language? These are great players, but would adapting their stuff make me a better player? Or a worse musician, even?

I have answered this question for myself long ago. Anyway, I kept on practicing double stroke rolls, because it's good for my hands.

Thomas

P.S.: Patryk from Poland has posted a video of his solo on this forum, and he uses double stroke rolls occasionally:
http://www.mycongaplace.com/forum/eng/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=9934.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Greensail » Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:53 pm

Thanks Thomas. I really liked you comment- does that fit your language. I guess at this point no. As I wrote that post, I did think of Pedrito because as you mention, he uses doubles effectively in a variety of ways and even does so with rolls. But I chose not to mention him because I cannot honestly hope to ever approach that skill level. To me, Pedrito is in a league of his own. I have not yet listened to the link but will explore - thankyou. I guess I'm with you, I will continue to work on them because I like it, they feel good, and moving between drums does allow some melodic sense. While improvement is always rewarding, enjoyment is my real goal. Along the path, perhaps my language expands.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Thomas Altmann » Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:14 am

Yes, Pedrito is immensely talented. In his solos, I compare him to John Coltrane: His time concept is so advanced ... Then he plays timbales, top batá player, and as a singer - some people just have it all!

However: Even Pedrito is not of a different species! What is it that makes people like him develop their personal gifts better than other people? That's the real question in my opinion. There will always be people who do one or the other thing better than you or anybody else. Likewise, a lot of people will look up to you for what you are doing best. Chances are that Pedrito cannot play one specific lick that you have worked out for yourself!
In the film "The Last of the Blue Devils", Count Basie is asked whether he remebered the time when Charle Parker entered the scene. He responded something like: "Oh yeah, that was when everybody started to play bad." There is a double meaning in this answer: First, Charlie Parker set a higher standard that made everybody else sound inferior; second, everybody else started trying to play like him, which is doomed to failure and automatically made those who tried bad players (literally bad, not bad in Be Bop slang).

My comment about my own doubles was a bit misleading. In fact, they suck. That's but one of the reasons why I have no use for them in performance.

Along the path, perhaps my language expands.

That's the way it goes!

Thomas
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Re: Doubles

Postby Greensail » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:43 am

Great story about Count Basie and Charlie Parker. I gotta check out the film. Re:Pedrito- absolutely - as you say, in addition to his conga skills, his voice, arrangements and overall musicality - he is clearly a consummate musician.
I would say my doubles don't suck but, I think I was looking to do something else with them in addition to just rudiments. Maybe I will find it. It'd also be nice to be 20 again - building muscle memory was so much easier then. And Patryk was impressive.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Siete Leguas » Fri Apr 23, 2021 10:10 am

Hi guys, good question(s).

I've also asked myself if I could ever fit doubles into my vocabulary like those guys. Eliel Lazo is another beast in my opinion. I like to practice doubles from time to time for a short while, but not consistently at all, and therefore I suck at them bad (also not bebop bad :)). It must feel awesome to be able to play doubles relatively fast and consistently, but it seems that it takes A LOT of practice.

If I already had the skill, I think I would try to start throwing them around in fills or maybe trying out paradiddle variations or other rudiments, with the hope that the music will find its way out :)

What I have found so far easier to learn and fun to mess around with are "finger doubles", using two fingers of each hand, mostly on cajón but I feel they might work for bongó too, for congas probably not so much. I am not very good at them yet either though.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Chtimulato » Fri Apr 23, 2021 8:09 pm

Hello everybody.

I personally use double strokes and paradiddles in my (almost) daily practice, as warming up. Maybe on rehearsals too. But I don't master that enough yet to incorporate it in a gig. I guess it will come one day.
Someone (who ?) said once "technique is what you practice at home". Which implies what I said above : once you master it, you can use it in your playing, without the audience noticing you are using technique. If you master it, people only notice you are playing well/comfortable, having fun, and that's all.

About finger playing, you may want to check this guy out :


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Re: Doubles

Postby Greensail » Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:33 pm

Thanks all. I agree with you Chtimulato. I do enjoy practicing the doubles and suspect it is a good hand technique skill to practice, especially with varied strokes and moving between drums. My friend from the islands , who is a classically trained, professional kit drummer but also great on hand drums told me some time back - You can think about what you want to do when practicing at home, but when performing, NEVER THINK, JUST FEEL! Been trying hard to adopt that philosophy with notable success. Maybe at a gig one day, the doubles just appear
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Re: Doubles

Postby Greensail » Sun May 09, 2021 11:53 pm

Just a follow up on my doubles question. Couple days ago, I'm at a half practice (tightening up the format on a few tunes) / half rehearsal with my mates, I'm playing something I was pretty comfortable with, when suddenly I realized, really after the fact, I had used a couple of doubles without even thinking about it. All I can say is they felt right. I thought about your comment Thomas, perhaps my language expanded without my knowledge.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Thomas Altmann » Tue May 11, 2021 8:34 am

Congratulations, Greensail!

It had been your own idea that your language will expand "along the path", without paying specific attention. And it did. I only encouraged you to proceed this way.

It's part of my artistic philosophy to take innovations easy. There are people who sit down to consciously invent something groundbreaking new at any expense. One of the expenses is that 90% of their creations is waste, another is that the rest is only understood by very few people. That's too expensive for me and my life span. Secretly however, I admire these people for their courage, their creativity and their authenticity. It is only now, during my social seclusion and cultural isolation on planet Corona, that I am forced to find out what my own music would sound like, when there is nobody and nothing around to relate to. Still growing up, so to say. But before, I've always been a traditionalist, following my lineage first, and contributing my own little innovations as they turn out in the process.

Greetings,
Thomas
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Re: Doubles

Postby Chtimulato » Tue May 11, 2021 9:03 am

Hello everybody.

I had used a couple of doubles without even thinking about it


Remember what I wrote somewhere on this forum? I don't remember where nor when, but I think it's like learning a new language, or learning to drive. A day comes when you notice you don't need to think anymore while driving, because you feel comfortable enough. Or you can build a sentence in a foreign language without needing to think "How will I build my sentence and translate this and this?". This is it.
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Re: Doubles

Postby Siete Leguas » Sun May 30, 2021 8:36 am

Just came across this little exercise by Eliel Lazo, sounds nice in his hands. Not really doubles but paradiddles I guess, but maybe you want to give it a go.

I believe he's playing RLLRLRRL RL (unlike what his t-shirt says :))

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Re: Doubles

Postby jorge » Sun May 30, 2021 5:29 pm

As far as I know, Tata Guines was the first to record the double stroke on a conga in his solos on Cachao's Descargas recording released in 1957. He was doing a single stroke with his right hand and double with his left to make triplets. I think this came from the heel toe movement of the tumbao and the guaguanco tres dos, just sped up. I have also heard similar double movements on bonko enchemilla but I don't know when that started. Lots of other people, Changuito, Regalao (Afrocuba), Mongo, Anga, Giovanni, Pedrito, Eliel and many others, have made variations of doubles, double stroke rolls, la mano secreta, and lots of other applications, but all after Tata as far as I know.
Has anyone heard an earlier recording of doubles on a conga before 1957?
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Re: Doubles

Postby Chtimulato » Sun May 30, 2021 7:41 pm

Has anyone heard an earlier recording of doubles on a conga before 1957?


Not that I know. I knew for Tata, and then Changuito, and then Angá and the others, that's all.

I believe he's playing RLLRLRRL RL (unlike what his t-shirt says :))
: yes. :)
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Re: Doubles

Postby Thomas Altmann » Sun May 30, 2021 8:04 pm

Good point, Jorge. I haven't heard of anyone using left-hand doubles by 1957 either, except Tata. That left-hand action really was the forerunner to the alternating double-handed "rudimental" approach.

An interesting detail is that, while everybody following Tata placed the on-beat first note of the triplet on the single stroke of the leading hand, I heard Ray Barretto put it on the last note of the triplet, like marking a swing off-beat. That also keeps the heel on the beat (where it actually belongs in the tumbao). I liked it.

As to the double stroke roll borrowed from the rudimental field drum tradition, I refer to my "European origins" posts when pointing out that there has even been one military tradition that obviously dispensed with double strokes altogether (the Prussian). The single-handed double stroke combined with a single stroke of the other hand to create a triplet exists in the French tambour tradition as bâton mêlé, but I doubt that Tata Güines was aware of it.

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