Speaking of Rhythm Volume 1
Afoxe by Kim Atkinson
Review by Eric Stuer
we decided to start doing reviews here at rhythmweb, I knew one
of the teachers whose products we'd want to cover would be Kim
Atkinson. We met Kim way back in about 1995 at the NAMM
show in Anaheim. He was kind enough to spend an hour giving us tips
on shekere technique, as we sat in a motel room one evening. Now,
nine years later, we are still working on what he gave us that evening.
We have the basics of it, but the applications are endless. That,
to me, is the mark of a solid teacher.
Kim has a variety of educational products at his website, Pulsewave,
and although i wanted to get everything there, I decided instead
to start with the first volume of his "Speaking of Rhythm series,
which features the Northern Brazilian Rhythm AFOXE.
Speaking of Rhythm
is described at Pulsewave as, "a multi-volume set of instructional
CDs covering a range of common ensemble dance rhythms from the Caribbean,
Brazil and Africa. The instruments used are conga drums, bells,
sticks, shakers and scratchers." They go on to say , "The
teaching is meticulous and involves you in learning to speak syllables
that mimic the sounds of percussion." The Speaking of Rhythm
series, then, is intended as a return to the Aural/Oral tradition,
and can be regarded as using a logical extension of Baba Olatunji's
Gun Go Pa method.
volume one, Kim introduces "Gun Go Pa", with specific
hand references (the syllables gun go and pa are dominant side and
dun do ta the non-dominant side, etc.). This arrangment of Afoxe
requires only Baba's drum syllables. Later volumes of Speaking of
Rhythm add other strokes, such as ku, tu for muffled strokes etc.
(For a more detailed audio introduction to the syllables used in
the Speaking of Rhythm series, Free from pulsewave, click
here. You can hear it all in this 6 minute audio introduction.)
Volume 1 Afoxe
The audio tracks are very clear and well recorded, and the individual
parts are expounded slowly and carefully, so that even the newest
newbie can let it soak in. Three conga parts, two bell parts. Clave.
There are exercises which involve clapping clave while speaking
The parts more advanced players will find useful are the longer
sections: Kim includes two 16 minute mixes that are very useful,
including one where the mix changes as it goes along to include
various combinations of the parts. This is good for guessing which
part just dropped out or came in, and good to supply the missing
part, and so on. During one section it is quite a challenge to discern
which agogo bell is playing what; they entwine very subtly..
All in all, the speaking of rhythm series is a real good resource.
Good work, Kim. We look forward to seeing other volumes. Visit
Eric Stuer, 2004
notes ! (SIDE NOTE FROM
STU) Of course, you know me; 1st thing I did was locate the
individual parts and type them into notepad and jot them down
with a pencil in a portable notebook in standard notation,
for reference..:-)they are useful to my western brain; please
forgive me you guys.. i have been jotting stuff down for so
many years that it is like second nature to me..I use the
hh.hhll.h...h.l. [agogo2] (starts on 4)
drum , middle drum , etc.
Incidentally, While surfing "Ijexa"
I came up with some useful stuff at this page:
The atabaque parts given
there are different from the ones in Kim's version of Afoxe,
but they all fit together..I was curious about the relationship
between Afoxe and Ijexa, and I had a couple of questions,
so I wrote to kim:
I'm enjoying the CD; you've done a real nice job, and the
16 minute sections
are very helpful.. I have two questions about this arrangement
1.Is there a particular recommended afoxe/cabasa part?
2. Is there ever a part for surdo or tan tan for Ijexa? (I
have not come
across one previously, but you never know for sure unless
you ask.)Most of
the Candomble realated stuff does notinclude those instruments,right?Are
there other stick drums that take over that function in such
Hi Stu. The casbasa Afuche part
is your basic and a one - and a two. You
can hear some of the things i did on the intro music, its
sort of like the
samba part but with a squarer feel. Straight upbeats sounds
Ijexa is a Candomble rhythm and is origianlly
played on atabaques with
hands. The parts are very similar to Afoxe, only simpler.
Read the stuff on
my site about it. In a ceremony when the atababques are being
sticks ala ketu or gege style, if Ochun arrives there are
a few different
rhythms that can be played for her with sticks, but many times
switch to ijexa (with hands). Ijexa has become a very popular
Umbanda and has spread out from there.
Use of the Surdo or Tan Tan is in my opinion
what makes one of the major
differeces between Afoxe and Ijexa. Surdo mean party or parade,
means ceremony. The Afoxe surdo or tan tan part is 2 an ,
4an either with
the 2 and 4 or not. You can hear this as the bass line in
many Giberto Gil
cuts. Again its sort of like a squared off samba part, no
anticiapation of 1, just 8ths.
I learned songs in Ijexa language for Exu,
Ossain, Yansa and more as well
as the original versions of the Oshum songs, from Jorge Alabe'
( if you
ever get a chance to study with him, he is the best) .
all the best
Well, this had me thinking, because as luck
would have it, Jorge Alabe is currently living in San Antonio,
only 4 or 5 hours away frm me..hmm..maybe I can stop by on
my way to Corpus Christi this coming summer and get a few
days in.. I suppose I'd better woodshed these AFOXE &
Ijexa parts in the meantime..i would love to do california
brazil this year..then I would probably get to study with
Jorge Alabe AND Kim Atkinson.