Downbeat lesson

Hi Buddy
I recently purchased your 7 Essential Grooves and have been watching your u-tube clips. I love your
style and approach. I am older and have been playing djembe for just a few years, but have been looking for
a direction. Your way is both beautiful and solid.
I feel when I am listening to you I lose track of the beginning and end of the phrase and everything seems to point
to the base note. My playing doesn’t quite do that. Can you give me a pointer on how to direct attention to the base note.
Thanks, Rick

Hello Rick,
There are many different ways to play the djembe. Traditional African does not use the concept of the downbeat. The parts are learned and played ensemble.
The invention of the downbeat came out of New Orleans during the Colonial period. It is a quick way for total strangers to play together. The downbeat is the beginning note of a rhythmic phrase based on European notation where the music is in a time signature such as 4 beat or 3 beat or some other permutation of those two basic foundation rhythm structures. The downbeat is at the beginning of the phrase- on “one”. I use the low tone in the middle of the drumhead as the downbeat because it is based on the Rhythm n Blues grooves that we are all familiar with. Soloing over Downbeat based drumming is different than soloing in African in that the soloist needs to support the downbeat in their improvisations This makes a groove that is danceable and can be shared with all levels of ability. The easiest note is the downbeat occuring every 4 beats or every 3 beats and it is also the most important note. Beginners can just play the downbeat and feel included in the magic of the groove.

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