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NSW Day of Percussion 1 July 2012

Learn Cajon Masterclass
Australian Percussive Arts Society and
Sydney Conservatorium Open Academy
Excerpts from Learn Cajon DVD:
Master the Cajon - Background Notes

with the distinctly flamenco sound of the Spanish guitar. Tracy Chapman. and playing along to music you might already have. It can be played with hands or wire brushes.com .or where we clap. and so is an ideal place for beginners to start. With this method. Blues and Jazz. The Cajon should have a strong bass and a distinctive contrasting ‘snare’. Originally from Peru. for playing in drum circles. Understanding Rumba with Number Groupings 1 One way to understand rumba is with number groupings.What is the Cajon? The Cajon (Spanish for ‘box’ or ‘drawer’) is a wooden drum with one side made of thin plywood for hitting. snare and hi hat of a drum kit. As such it combines the sensuality and charm of Cuba. Pop. the Cajon has spread worldwide in popularity.learncajon. Pink. like this: 1 With thanks to Greg Sheehan and Ben Walsh for teaching me about number groupings as a way to understand rhythm. Today. rumba can be thought of as a 3 3 2 pattern. It is also a great rhythm to learn for jamming with friends. in the north of Spain. the Cajon is used in genres ranging from Rock. What is Spanish Flamenco Rumba? Flamenco rumba is a blend of both flamenco and Afro-Cuban music which was brought back to Spain from Cuba in the 19th Century. Flamenco and Latin American music. Sometimes referred to as the “drum kit in a box”. Since the 1970s when flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia introduced it into his music. Raw materials such as European birch and beech plys are perfect for getting the warm bass tone and contrasting snare tones of the modern Cajon. 1. Ben Harper. Peret. Funk and Hip Hop through to Folk. even Jennifer Lopez all use the Cajon. a quality Cajon can replicate the bass. it has four beats per bar. which is created from steel guitar strings or an actual snare attached to the inside of the front playing surface. A 3 group is: 1 2 3 A 2 group is: 1 2 So a 3 3 2 pattern is: 3 1 3 2 3 1 2 2 3 1 2 The one is always the accent . The Spanish rumba is a fantastic rhythm to learn. Artists as diverse as Bon Jovi. in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Rumba became very popular in Catalonia. apart from its well-established place in Spanish. Like most rock and pop. 2 © Learn Cajon 2012 www. particularly through the music of Catalan gypsy. it developed from African slaves playing percussion on cod fishing crates or other boxes to replace their native drums.

com 3 © Learn Cajon 2012 www. If you have studied Cajon Technique Module 1.learncajon. we can look at ways of playing rumba on the Cajon. Flamenco Rumba on the Cajon Once we understand the rumba rhythm. you should be familiar with the basic sounds that we are going to be working with here: bass. I have abbreviated these as follows: bass B tone T tip ti Flamenco Rumba Pattern A 1 2 3 B 1 2 3 B 1 2 T Once we can play the basic pattern. Understanding Rumba with Musical Notation Here is Spanish Rumba in musical notation (with a fun vocalised version of rumba) 3.learncajon. tone. and tip.com . we can then add in tips on the non accented parts of the rhythm so that the pattern becomes: 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 B ti ti B ti ti T ti For more information on Spanish Rumba.1 2 3 1 2 3 1 > > > clap clap clap 2 2. you can download your free Learn Cajon Module at www.

4 © Learn Cajon 2012 www. it is an evolving form to which new styles are always being added. or rhythm. tip and tipslide sounds of the cajon. or crotchets). as in the following chart. particularly Seville . waltzes and jigs are all examples of rhythms in three. This is important for speed and ease with other rhythms we will learn. so that the accented tones fall to either side.the three refers to the number of beats per bar.com . The top number . You will even sometimes see it danced at Spanish nightclubs. remains the same. Usually consisting of four verses. we can look at ways of playing rhythms in three on the cajon. 2.learncajon.What are Rhythms in Three? Sevillanas. add the foot pulse on the side of the cajon. Note that the time signature we use here is 3/4. 3. Musical notation Here is the basic Sevillanas in musical notation.hence the name. and this means that there are three beats per bar . it is a popular dance and music form which is danced and played at the various fairs or “ferias” throughout Spain. While its compas. or “coplas”. If you have studied the Cajon Technique Module 1. or cycle (3) and the bottom number refers to the type of beat (in this case 1/4 notes.1. 1. 2. Practise leading with either hand.Pattern A Pattern A is a rhythm in three using just the tone. When you are ready. Rhythms in Three on the Cajon Once we understand the rhythmic concepts. It is originally thought to come from the ancient seguidillas song of central Spain. tip. Make sure you alternate your hands from right to left. which build on these basic skills. tip slide and the foot pulse. you should be familiar with the basic sounds that we are going to be working with: bass. tone. Sevillanas is a regional folk music and dance genre popular throughout Andalusia in the south of Spain. I have abbreviated these as follows: bass B tone T tip ti tip slide ts foot pulse F accent > Rhythms in Three . or left to right.

As to where the actual word bulerias comes from. These palos typically end with a faster more upbeat “bulerias” rhythm. Consisting of 12 beats per compas.the most popular being that it comes from the Spanish word.Pattern B Now play the same pattern as in Pattern A but with all the tones and tips on the bass part of the cajon.com .1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 T ts ti T ts ti T ts ti T ts ti > > > > R L R L R L R L R L R L L R L R L R L R L R L R F F F F Rhythms in Three . There is also a theory that the name may have come from the 19th century dance the bolera. 5 © Learn Cajon 2012 www.Pattern C Pattern C brings the first two patterns together so that the first and third accents are bass sounds and the second and fourth accents are tone sounds: 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 B ts ti T ts ti B ts ti T ts ti > > > > R L R L R L R L R L R L L R L R L R L R L R L R F F F F What is Flamenco Bulerias? Bulerias is one of the most fascinating rhythms in flamenco music and dance. is characteristically full of humour. to banter”. There are many opinions about where bulerias originated from. Rhythms in Three . but it is commonly thought to have developed from other slower palos (flamenco styles) in the 19th century with the same rhythmic cycle. It is often used to end a flamenco gathering or performance.learncajon. for example from soleares and alegrias. there are various theories . it is a style which is always evolving. burlar “to joke. playful and is open to endless improvisation.

written across in a line: 3 1 3 2 3 1 2 2 3 1 2 2 2 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 The one is always the accent (>) or where we clap.1. In practice flamencos usually count the compas as if it begins on 12. so that you can communicate with other flamenco musicians and dancers. If you count the syllables in the words above. but for now. Understanding Bulerias as a 12 Beat Cycle The bulerias is a 12 beat rhythm. you will find that there are twelve counts. Here.com 7 8 clap 9 10 clap 11 . the accents fall on the numbers 3 6 8 10 and 12. like this: 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 > > > > > clap clap clap clap clap 2.like this: 12 clap 1 2 3 4 5 6 clap clap 6 © Learn Cajon 2012 www. With this method.learncajon. We’ll go into why we count like this in another module. its useful to learn to count it as a 12 beat cycle. or the individual numbers in the number groupings. Understanding Bulerias with Number Groupings One way to understand the bulerias compas is with number groupings. as follows: A “3” group is: 1 2 3 A “2” group is: 1 2 So a 3 3 2 2 2 pattern is: 3=123 3=123 2=12 2=12 2=12 Or. Once you can clap the compas. just practice counting in groups of 12 where the first accent is on 12 . bulerias can be thought of as a 3 3 2 2 2 pattern.

learncajon. Bulerias on the Cajon Once we understand the bulerias compas. we can then add in tips on the non-accented parts of the rhythm so that the pattern becomes: 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 B ti ti B ti ti B ti B ti B ti To start with. visit www. instead of clapping the bulerias accents. as follows: 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 1 2 1 2 > > > > > 3.com .learncajon. you can play all of the bass tones with one hand and all of the tips with your other hand. we can look at ways of playing bulerias on the Cajon.Note that this is exactly the same rhythm as we’ve been learning about with number groupings. * For further information. you play these accents on the bass of the cajon.com mobile 0425264375 7 © Learn Cajon 2012 www. Bulerias Pattern A This first pattern consists of the main bulerias accents being played as bass notes with your leading hand. In other words. as follows: 12 1 2 B 3 4 5 6 B 7 B 8 9 B 10 11 B Once we can play the basic pattern.com email claudia@learncajon.