learning rumba vs other music

If you don't find a specific forum, post your message here (please read all the forum list first).

learning rumba vs other music

Postby guarachon63 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:03 pm

I think the challenge is the old skool way so many people were brought up to learn Rumba. I've read a lot of stories were intermediate players would get yelled at and run out of rumba gatherings and I find that old energy lingers on this board. I'm just not interested in getting shredded for not playing the way someone who grew up in Cuba and played their entire life does. By learning outside that context I've developed a style that's somewhat unique to me.


I don't mean to single out the original poster here, but I do hear this sentiment quite often and I always find it a bit curious.

Would a violinist attempt to sit in with a klezmer group, or a flute player at a pub session in Ireland, and expect the other players to adapt to his own unique style? Or could someone expect to go to a roda de samba and play the cavaquinho in one's "own unique style" and "not" expect to get chased out? Would a jazz trumpeter learning New Orleans style jazz ever say, "I am not interested in being told how to play by some old trumpet player who grew up in New Orleans and has played his whole life"? Hard to imagine. And it's not just about drums; I can't recall hearing any student of batá ever moan about getting "shredded" by an older experienced batá player. But for some reason lots of people feel that way about rumba - just let me play how I want to play.

Please note there is no intent of animosity here, just an observation I would be curious to hear comments on. Maybe my whole premise is wrong?
===================================
http://esquinarumbera.blogspot.com
User avatar
guarachon63
 
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:12 pm
Location: New York

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby rhythmrhyme » Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:32 pm

LOL - that's a funny post, and very out of context.

My unique style is in no way related to other members posts regarding being yelled at or turfed out of a traditional rumba. In terms of playing rumba, I was actually initially trained by a cuban rumbero and my technique and style in this regard is probably more on point than I let on. He used to yell all the time as well, I hated training with him! The context of the post was in support of another board member who had just gotten blasted for putting up a recording of a rhythm that he missed the "swing" on, I was being supportive.

The issue is about being yelled at, or being shredded, for not doing something the way someone else thinks it should be done. That was the context of the original post that you cut from another thread. The rest of the thread supported this sentiment. If you are given an opportunity to sit in on a "public" rumba in a park, what gives anyone the right to yell abusive obsentities at you? I've played drums for over 30 years, and I've met lots of very talented musicians along the way. One thing that I know for sure, a symphony player, or a talented jazz musician, would not lose his shit on anyone if they weren't playing at their level in a public setting like a park where people were invited to sit in. I, like many other musicians, would simply stop playing and wait to see if the group regained its direction. Intergenerational patterns of verbal abuse are an entirely different thing.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
User avatar
rhythmrhyme
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:24 pm

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby jorge » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:07 pm

The only effective way I have ever seen to teach people to really play rumba is the old Cuban teaching style, rough and "inhumane" as it seems. There is no Juilliard or Berklee for the rumba, universidad de la calle is all we have and it works. Zero tolerance for off time, crossed clave, wrong pattern, wrong feel, and other less obvious infringements. Very few non-Cubans (and not all that many Cubans) actually learn to play rumba well, playing in clave, knowing how to make the songs swing, playing well with the singers and with a good (drum) vocabulary, originality (in clave), impeccable timing, and the right feeling, really playing the essence of the rumba. Kids growing up in Cuba, hanging with the right people (usually family) and surrounded by good rumba, bata, abacua, and other Afrocuban music may not have to fight as hard to learn it right, but lots of Cubans don't get it either. Outside Cuba, you get yelled at, shredded (hopefully not physically hit or stabbed), kicked off the drum, sticks taken away, and subjected to other rumba-saving behavior modification techniques hundreds of times. You pick your ego up off the ground again and again, go back and learn it better, you get occasional positive feedback, you keep learning, listening and figuring out more, you get really good rumberos to show you bits and pieces, you practice until you get it right then keep practicing until you can't get it wrong, and after many years, you can actually play rumba. No short cuts. The other day at a rumba a guy who actually used to play decent rumba, who had played and recorded professionally with Mongo and other commercial bands, was playing clave with uneven timing and we had to take the claves away from him, and kick him off the drum a few times. He was not happy. Nobody got stabbed but it was not pretty. Letting him continue to play off time would have killed the rumba. Asi es.
jorge
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:47 am
Location: Teaneck, NJ

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby rhythmrhyme » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:20 pm

I get that Jorge, but does it need to come onto this board? Also, is it the ONLY way?? I don't think so, it's just a tradition. Like going to medical school, faculty make you suffer because they suffered. Or, like being an iron worker, people yell at you because they were yelled at and they think it is acceptable. What's the difference? Just because someone thinks verbal abuse is the only way, and likely thinks this because it's how they were taught and now its "pay back" for all the abuse they took, doesn't mean its right. Lots of other people learn better using different methods of instruction.

I'd like to add that I'm aware of the spiritual tradition of rumba, and that this likely fuels some of the passion involved in playing the style. Having "zero tolerance" for inattention or mistakes in this setting is akin to showing respect and praise for the orisha's. I get that. I still don't think that tearing someone down is the way to go. Taking away their drum or clave, sure, that makes sense. If they bitch and complain, perhaps you need to set them straight - sure.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
User avatar
rhythmrhyme
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:24 pm

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby jorge » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:42 pm

I agree with you in principle, but find me a better way in practice. I haven't seen it. Find me a rumbero who learned as an adult outside Cuba and who really plays excellent rumba and I would bet he or she learned by the classical Cuban teaching methods. Your medical analogy is a good one, but your premise is wrong. In fact I teach in a medical school and, rather than subjecting students to the difficulties I had to go through, I have spent over 20 years trying to figure out better ways to make learning the necessary material less painful. Neither I nor the other faculty I know are in any way trying to INCREASE the difficulty or pain, we are actually all trying to DECREASE it. Now our medical school sucks 1.3% less because of my efforts. Lots of other dedicated teachers have contributed their piece, many more so than I. But medical school still sucks, asi es.
jorge
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:47 am
Location: Teaneck, NJ

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby rhythmrhyme » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:18 pm

jorge wrote:. But medical school still sucks, asi es.


LOL - so does neuroscience school! Unfortunately faculty in our local program don't seem to share your insightful intentions of not passing down the hate. 8)

This board isn't a rumba though, and although I've fueled a few interactions around some drums, sharing and learning together is a different issue and could be more fluid here.
Cheers,

RR
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
User avatar
rhythmrhyme
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:24 pm

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby JohnnyConga » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:56 pm

Jorge I think Im the guy that learned 'outside' of Cuba by Puerto Ricans, Blacks and Cubans growing up in NYC...and I think I can hold my own in a Rumba...and Yes I have been 'yelled' at many times as well and even told to 'get up'(get off the drum)...very embarrassing, but I learned the hard way and the easy way..I have figured out how to 'teach' for the Conga drum, and my methods are sought after from others, from around the world...see my Congazine page here and read what others have said about my teaching methods...and what I teach is in no school in America except one and that one Arturo Stable just created a whole new Afro Cuban course for the school..my school is different than his but my methods include old and new school approaches and methodology...my practice methods are very simple and easy to do with out yelling or anything else....I have been doing this for over 30 years and have gotten it all down now to pass on, and save others years of learning time..I am also a successful ONLINE teacher for over 3 years now as well....and Im just a guy from 'Da Bronx"...
User avatar
JohnnyConga
 
Posts: 3825
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 7:58 pm
Location: Ft. Lauderdale,Fl/Miami

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby jorge » Thu Mar 21, 2013 1:39 am

JC, with all due respect for your teaching profession, I don't know a single rumbero that learned to play rumba mainly from a teacher. It really is different from learning to play classical piano or tuba (or bass drum) for the marching band. The few really good non-Cuban-born rumba drummers I know learned from playing (and getting beat up a lot) in rumbas, from lots of practicing (whether they admit it or not), from watching, listening to and hanging out with really good rumba drummers, from the occasional tips those drummers give, from the dancers, from the singers, from intense focus, from listening carefully, from dancing, and from just wanting to learn. Teachers are great to help your technique so you can learn to hit the drum better, sound better, play specific parts, play with less effort, hurt your hands less, pick yourself up quicker from getting slapped down, and learn how to learn better. Teachers can help you a lot if you really want to learn to play. But improvising and playing with feeling are things the student has to bring and learn him- or herself, a teacher can't teach you how to improvise beautiful music or how to make the dancers feel like dancing.
jorge
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:47 am
Location: Teaneck, NJ

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby rhythmrhyme » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:41 am

Having the experience of playing for dancers and in an percussion ensemble is different than needing to be yelled at in order to learn.

I've played for hundreds of dance classes on congas, djembe's, kit set up's, whatever, it's irreplaceable experience for sure. If there were solid conga players in my area who cared about rumba, I'd have hundreds of hours in that environment by now as well - there just aren't. And from what the old skool players on this board have shared, I'm blessed to have not encountered a "traditional" rumba - that's for sure! 8)

No amount of rationalizing will ever convince me that treating others like shit is justified because it will "help" them learn better. That's complete nonsense that can only come from a place of needing to rationalize one's own abusive behavior. If "not getting stabbed" is a good outcome at a rumba, then the culture of rumba drumming has some serious issues that its members need to step back from and examine.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana
User avatar
rhythmrhyme
 
Posts: 327
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 9:24 pm

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby guarachon63 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:54 am

The discussion has kind of digressed a bit from my original intent, sure, nobody likes to get yelled at or humiliated, and maybe there are more effective ways to learn rumba and maybe there aren't.

But I was hoping to discuss more the feeling of, "I just don't want to be told how to play rumba at all, I play it like I play it and that's it", which I have heard not only from park-goers, but also from professional jazz drummers trying to break into rumba. And I just don't recall hearing that from people playing other musical traditions.

But like I said, maybe my whole premise is wrong and I am just imagining.
===================================
http://esquinarumbera.blogspot.com
User avatar
guarachon63
 
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2006 7:12 pm
Location: New York

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby KidCuba » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:16 am

My two cents...

The meant you look at rumba just as music or dancing, you lose it's social context. Rumba is more than art, it's life. In the U.S., most of study the music outside of its true context... We try to replicate or stage an event, which is spontaneous in to truest forms.

The comes with the turf and fuels some of us to improve, while it drives others away.

It was commented to one of the guys who helps produce our monthly rumba here in L.A. by an attendee to the events, that he had forgotten how much guaperia was part of the rumba scene. Our events are pretty mellow, with musical integrity kept as high as possible with no real hard asses yelling at people. You'll get a dirty look and politely asked to step aside, but I guess even that is too much for some...

As for doing your own shit, as however you feel... It might be fun and even sound good, but it probably ain't rumba...
Triple Pulse Conga Practice- http://www.larumbero.com
User avatar
KidCuba
 
Posts: 311
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:06 am

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby jorge » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:09 am

Guarachon, I think it depends who and where you are. I am told that Markito (of Rumberos de Cuba) got a huge amount of criticism from the old guard rumberos in La Habana for the new style of rumba he was playing, even though he was also a professional (military) drummer and had impeccable timing and chops. Yet he influenced the Cuban rumba tremendously, largely because he was able to make his style work within clave and he was a very talented musician. He also had a thick skin and was able to keep on creating in spite of the criticism. I haven't seen that level of creativity in the rumba coming from musicians outside of Cuba, except possibly for Giovanni Hidalgo. The difference between rumba and other folkloric musics like klezmer, Irish folk music, roda de samba is that the rumba is by nature changing at a much faster rate, "la timba no es como ayer", which it has in common with jazz. Jazz, however, has no strict clave to define it and has far fewer traditions and rules to constrain it. Some of the jazz musicians trying to break into rumba don't seem to understand how deeply the clave determines what is acceptable in rumba and what isn't. They just play clave on top of other parts, without conceptualizing the clave as the foundation of it all.

JC, ask Gene Golden, a non-Cuban who has learned rumba "the hard way" how often he got flak from the Cuban rumberos during his career. That is what I am talking about. Ask Jerry Gonzalez about the song "Cojelo Suave" that Daniel Ponce did criticizing the NYC rumberos, and about how he learned to play rumba. "Oye bien mi socio cojelo suave, Basta ya tu nunca ha tenido clave". Una puya de p!#ga asere. That song had a kick ass clave with Ignacio Berroa and Daniel Ponce playing amazing game-changing stuff underneath the contratiempo horn lines. I am not disagreeing with you.

KidCuba, although some of the Cuban born rumberos do talk about rumba "sin guaperia" you are right that it is an ever present force in most rumbas outside of Cuba, as well as some rumbas in Cuba. I have complained for 40+ years against the unpleasantness of the Cuban method of teaching rumba but it hasn't changed and I am still looking for someone born in the U.S. who learned as an adult and can really play rumba, but who did not go through that universidad de la calle boot camp.
jorge
 
Posts: 1049
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:47 am
Location: Teaneck, NJ

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby JohnnyConga » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:07 pm

JORGE DIDN T U READ MY POST??..HERE IT IS AGAIN...
I grew up in the Bronx with Gene, Jerry, Milton and many others and we all learned the hard way.....so here is my post again..
Jorge I learned to play Rumba on the streets of New York City ,on roof tops, central park, down by a river, under a bridge, thru the 60's and 70's nobody formally taught me ..I learned the hard way...I also can't help it if you never met a guy like me that learned the way I did, cause Jerry Gonzales, Gene Golden, Milton Cardona(my home boys and we are all in our 60's now) and others learned the same way.. I had one teacher one time just show me how to play tres golpe...and it was a 45 minute class..mi escuela es de la calle de Nueva York y El Bronx!...ya tu sabe!......just so u understand where I come from ....
User avatar
JohnnyConga
 
Posts: 3825
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 7:58 pm
Location: Ft. Lauderdale,Fl/Miami

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby bongosnotbombs » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:29 pm

The rhythms of rumba are used to create a feeling at the rumba, we've all felt it when the feeling was there, and when it wasn't.

These rhythms are a language, the languages of guaguanco, yambu, rumba columbia, guarapachangeo and sometimes some of the better known folkloric rhythms, mainly bembe.

When I sit down on tres dos for guaguanco, I'm expecting to hear the language of guaguanco from the salidor. If I don't hear those tones on 2& and 4&, I can't play the way I'm used to. I can't play spontaneously with feeling. If the salidor is playing something else, I don't know how to speak to him. I don't care if it sounds good, it is stopping me from playing the way I am expecting to, and expected to and in a rumba with singers and dancers and everyone, I don't want to hear it. I need to hear gauaguanco from the salidor. I need to hear it so I can can tribute to making the rumba feeling fill the air that we all expect from a rumba.

Rumba is not about who you are sitting behind the drum, it is a collective community formed by the music. The language of the community is guaguanco, yambu, rumba columbia, etc.

In a different situation, a jam at my house, yeah, it might be cool to hear something different played, and I would be open to it. But at a rumba the job is not to create some cool sounding new rhythm, the job is to create the 'feeling'.
User avatar
bongosnotbombs
 
Posts: 2869
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2007 4:17 am
Location: San Francisco, Ca

Re: learning rumba vs other music

Postby JohnnyConga » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:35 pm

I concur with bongosnotbombs... here is some history on Rumba from the Ned Sublett book(the Bible of Cuba, as I like to call it) "Cuba and it's music from the first drums to the Mambo"...also that there are 3 rare forms of Rumba and they are ..Tahona, Papalote and Jiribilla...clik on photo and it will download so u can read it..

RUMBA HISTORY .jpg
User avatar
JohnnyConga
 
Posts: 3825
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 7:58 pm
Location: Ft. Lauderdale,Fl/Miami

Next

Return to Open Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests