lessons

Creative Congas

Brad Dutz has played with Alanis Morrisette, Kiss, Willie Nelson, Tribal Tech, David Benoit, Steve Smith, Rickie Lee Jones, and Jeff Bridges; recorded movie soundtracks for Prince of Egypt, Molly, Doug’s First Movie, Star Trek 5, Ocean’s Eleven, and All The Pretty Horses; can be heard on the TV shows King Of The Hill, Family Guy, and Mouseworks; teaches at Cal State Long Beach, and performs clinics on hand percussion and mallets. He has also written two instructional books and released a series of videos for beginning hand drummers.

This month I have sketched some conga examples to practice odd times. If you are not a conga player you may adapt these examples to drums by just reading the stickings underneath the notes. I have used p=palm, f= fingers, s=for slap, T=for tone, and a few lower notes for a second drum. If you don’t have congas, use different parts of a drum kit for the different hand sounds.

The first line is a simple 5/8 that reverses your hands every bar, and the second line is a 7/8 that does not switch your hands, so I have written it twice.

My favorite is the third line, which is a combination of lines one and two — a very interesting 12/8. Line four is different from the others because you are now using some single strokes. The last line is fun because we all need to play in 13/8 more often.

Try many different tempos and always use the metronome.

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