Can I play like Giovanni? Can anyone?

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Can I play like Giovanni? Can anyone?

Postby DanRichman » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:56 pm

Here's my dilemma:

I want to solo and improvise like Giovanni Hidalgo. But I can't figure out whether (1) he is one of a kind, so that there's no point in trying to emulate him, (2) he is not unique but is so exceptional that again there is no point in trying to emulate him, or (3) his techniques are learnable and practiceable so that, over time, a normal human being like me can master them.

If this topic has been discussed here, please forgive me and point me to the relevant threads. (I did do a search before posting.) If not, I hope it may be illuminating.

The techniques I'm referring to are mainly two in number: (1) the rapid heel-fingertip rocking movement, alternating right and left hands, and (2) the double-stroke hit (whether tone or open slap).

As to (1), I can accept that doing this extremely quickly and proficiently is possible to master. That's not true as to (2). Here's why.

When doing a double-stroke hit on a drum head using a stick (and assembling such hits into 5-, 7- and 11-stroke rolls, etc.), one uses the energy of the stick bouncing off the head, redirecting it back to the head. Such energy reuse makes double-stroke hits far faster and more efficient than single-stroke hits. Anyone who's ever tried it will attest to this. You can do things with double-stroke rolls that are simply impossible with single-stroke rolls.

So far as I can see, the same is not true of double-stroke hand motions on the conga. There is no way to harness to energy of the hand bouncing off the head and to redirect it into the next downward stroke. Rather, the motion is simply a doubled single stroke, no faster or easier than alternate left-right single strokes and in fact considerably slower.

But again -- is this just a matter of building up coordination and "muscle memory," or is it a matter of physics, against which struggle is useless?

Thank you for your thoughtful input.
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Re: Can I play like Giovanni? Can anyone?

Postby burke » Tue May 01, 2018 1:10 pm

I think [as you mentioned] what you are alluding to is various sticking techniques that have been lifted from trap drumming by conga players. I don't think Giovanni is the first to do it by any means. If you search this forum for La Mano Secreta you'll get a lot of hits. Tomas Cruz also has a boatload of these exercises in his instruction book and DVD [first or second one ... can't recall which exactly].

Michael de Miranda brings in Martin Gort in the video below who gives a pretty good explanation and shows some exercises on the double strokes.

2 cents ended


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