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Latin Bass


John Varney

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Just reading Ed Friedland's article about latin subbing. The piece he illustrated is Disco Azúcar by Cuban band "Loa Van Van". Their bass player, Juan Formell, is a legend - writes a lot of great songs and invents extremely funky and/or cool bass lines. Unfortunately many bass players who try "Latin" and get past the calypso or bossa styles to the Afro-Cuban "tumbao" style never really try to understand the rhythmic depth in this genre. Carlos del Puerto's book is an absolute gem in this regard. While he doesn't present as many elaborated parts as in Oscar Stagnaro's wonderful book, he provides an abundance of exercises and elements which present many years' study for even the most dedicated players.
Thuz no shame in goin' out 'n gitt'n yr ass kicked - thuz no honour in not goin' out at all! - The Undertaker
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I think the tumbao isn't to be "nailed" so much as flowed with. Rather than coming away from a 1 that isn't there you have to aim towards a 1 that isn't there . . . you know, go: tum-bao-(1) rather than (1)-tum-bao. The first sits with the piano while the second goes with the conga. is there a way of posting graphics here?
Thuz no shame in goin' out 'n gitt'n yr ass kicked - thuz no honour in not goin' out at all! - The Undertaker
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John, click on the "Full Reply Form" or "Post Reply" button and there should be more buttons under the form to add hyperlinks, images and a few other things. Your images do have to be hosted somewhere on the net though. If you don't have your own website checkout www.photobucket.com for image hosting. I'm interested in seeing what you're talking about as I'm only a beginner in the ways of latin music.
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My drummer is very, very into latin rhythms and gave me a video called "Funkifying the Clave'".

 

My head begins to spin and I pass out after working for three and a half minutes with that video.

 

Hey, this was my 100th post. Where's my cake?

My whole trick is to keep the tune well out in front. If I play Tchaikovsky, I play his melodies and skip his spiritual struggle. ~Liberace
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"Funkifying the Clave" is great and is suitable for newcomers to Afro-Cuban music, I have the book/cassette. One thing that's so good is taking the bass and drums/percussion as a unit rather that separately. I think it helps to really know the percussion parts and also to feel the clave. Agree with John V about the feel of the second half of the tumbao as anticipating the one.

I used to play for hours with just myself and a conga player, that helped.

Lincoln has a website http://www.lincolngoines.com but this is down at the moment.

As far as bass players, check out Sal Cuevas, Bobby Rodriguez, Lincoln himself, Boby Rodriguez, Andy Gonzalez and Israel "Cacho" Lopez - the master!

Thanks for the book recommendations, John.

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Cachao is, I think, the bassist who put the "tum" and the "bao" into the term. He plays like the fusion of a classical bassist and a conga player. If you listen to "Lindo Yambu" from his Master Sessions Vol. 1 CD (you can hear a sample from it on most CD retail sites) you can a hear a drum playing the "tum" as a slap and the "bao" as a deep note. If you can track down the DVD of "Compay Segundo at the Olympia", watch the bass player - he plays simple but solid. He plays the "tum" as a short rest-stroke articulation and the "bao" as a long note where he raises his hand on the follow through, and the feel is fantastic. Cachao's latest CD comes with a bonus 50 min DVD. Even though he's losing a proportion of his technique, esp L.H. his feel is perfect.
Thuz no shame in goin' out 'n gitt'n yr ass kicked - thuz no honour in not goin' out at all! - The Undertaker
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I think they're both equally good . . . maybe 1st vol.1 then 2.

Going back to an explanation of "tumbao":

If you divide a 4/4 bar into 8 beats. e.g.: Mark 1 to 4 with feet and count the eight: 12312345 (making an additive rhythm subdivision). The 1 on the 4th subdivision is what is called "bombo". Walk around the room a few times saying "tum" on this beat and mouthing a silent "one" at the beginning of the 8 beat cycle. Then subdivide as 12312312. The 1 on the 7th sub is called "ponche". Once again walk counting the original 1 2 3 4 saying "bao" on the 4 and mouthing "one" on the . . . 1!!. The combination of "bombo" with "ponche" is what is described as a "tumbao" patten. When that feels OK, start going "tum-bao-(one)" on the appropriate subs. Does that make sense? If so try it and see if it makes the tumbao any more groovable.

Thuz no shame in goin' out 'n gitt'n yr ass kicked - thuz no honour in not goin' out at all! - The Undertaker
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Also, you can feel or tap son clave and synchronise the bass tumbao with the second two notes of the '3' part of the clave'. Wish, I had some way of writing notation with this computer!

Thanks for the terminology, John and the Cacao advice. Did you study percussion at all? I know my (limited) study helps me with Afro-Cuban parts, Brazilian parts and the lines I used to play in African bands.

The bass seems intrinsically part of the percussion section in Afro-Cuban music.

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