This is the fruit of an exhaustive project that required many years of reflection
aimed at finding a method for one percussionist to play Bata polyrhythms on 3 Congas. These ‘toques’ are traditionally played by 3 musicians on 3 different drums, each equipped with 2 heads:
the Iya, the Itotélé and the Okonkolo.
Arnold is one of the few percussionists able to play virtually all of the vast Bata repertoire on 3 Congas, and is still the only one to play certain toques, which are notoriously difficult to transcribe.
Having painstakingly developed his own method for playing these patterns, he can now offer us some of the most faithful transcriptions of Bata rhythms for congas ever made.
This ingenious system enables him to play the huge Bata repertoire without once changing the position of the 3 congas. This itself is something of an exploit and highlights the careful calculations that underpin the project.
He set himself a demanding series of essential objectives:
1/ To integrate all the conversations
of the Iya and the Itotélé without altering or interrupting the cycle of the Okonkolo,
2/ To integrate a high percentage of each of the 3 parts that make up the toque.
E.g.: around 80% of "The Meta of
Chango" is respected.
3/ To respect the interaction of the initial polyrhythms, by integrating the element of improvisation in each part.
E.g.: the Okonkolo in the ”Rumba
Notwithstanding the technical achievement, the icing on the cake is that this is not just a lifeless sequence of patterns, as is often the case. No, In these transcriptions, the groove is ever-present and for that, thank you Maestro!
Note that this work is not intended to be a substitute for the magic created by 3 Bata drums played by 3 devoted percussionists.
The attention paid to each transcription bears witness to Arnold’s deep respect for the Bata tradition.
Finally, as Arnold’s Master Class video (Bata Rhythms on Congas) points out, this work does not require the possession of any particular skill.
It is in other words accessible to all percussionists seeking to work on their hand independence, while incorporating modern techniques developed by the world’s top soloists (both living and dead) in the field, who all made important contributions (even if indirectly) to the development of this method.
To sign off with an amusing comment by a poster in the on-line comments after the video: “at last, a Frenchman who can export something to Cuba!!!”