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  • R!Solo: Slappy's Groove for Congas by Greg Haynes

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Dec 17, 2021

    This solo utilizes two basic sounds common to most of the larger hand drums such as congas and djembe: the open tone and the slap. With either tone, it is strongly recommended that players keep their first line of knuckles inside the drum’s bearing edge and the thumbs pulled back away from the edge so as to avoid injury. 

    The open tone is accomplished by striking the drum with a flat hand position, producing a pure fundamental tone. The slap is executed using the same stroke, but with a relaxed, slightly curved hand position. This new hand position will allow the fingertips to arrive slightly before the rest of the hand and, when performed correctly, will produce a higher-pitched pop, emphasizing an upper harmonic of the drum. The slap can either be played with full resonance (open) or with muting (closed). While the closed slap can be accomplished single-handedly by leaving the hand in contact with the head following initial contact, it can also be produced by placing the opposite hand on the head during execution, as you will see in the performance video. 

    “Slappy’s Groove” uses both kinds of slaps, as indicated by the articulation marking. The following key shows which articulations correspond to each sound on the congas:

    Slappys Groove Key

    This short piece is in a rock/fusion style and is grouped in regular four-bar phrases. The grooves can be explored at various tempos and several phrases are suitable for use while playing along with your favorite rock and pop tracks. As you play or perform this solo, be sure to relax and enjoy the groove!

    Slappys Groove SCORE

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    Greg HaynesGreg Haynes is a percussionist, composer, and educator based in the Connecticut/metro New York area. Haynes has performed with a diverse selection of ensembles including the Hartford Symphony, the Longmont Symphony, the Midwest Chamber Ensemble, Banda Sinfonica de Santa Fe in Argentina, Marimba Sol de Chiapas, Celtic Cross Pipes and Drum of Danbury, and the Redemption Sound Setters steel orchestra in Tobago. Haynes serves as Associate Professor of Music at Western Connecticut State University. He composes chamber and percussion works by commission and produces music for film and media. Haynes received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Kansas in 2009 and holds a professional certificate in advanced music production from Berklee Online.

  • R!Solo: Sean-Nós for Timpani by Dr. David O’Fallon

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Oct 21, 2021
    In Irish traditional music, a slow air is marked by the absence of strict meter and is usually played by an unaccompanied solo instrument. It seeks to emulate the highly-personalized sean-nós (SHAN-ohss), or “old style” of traditional, unaccompanied Irish solo singing, which has a freely floating quality not unlike that of chant.

    Examples of instrumental Irish slow airs and sean-nós singing are abundant on the internet, and the timpanist is asked to reference these in the development of a free-sounding, singing tone with expression that is felt rather than read.

    The repeats in this solo are optional, but the performer is encouraged in sean-nós fashion to vary the ornamentation and rhythms if the repeats are taken.
    Sean-Nos for Four Timpani

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    David O'FallonDr. David O’Fallon is a composer, percussionist, and educator. His background as a performer includes working for many years in Chicago as a freelance percussionist and as a frequently-called extra and substitute percussionist for the Chicago Symphony, with whom he has toured and recorded extensively. He completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition degree from the University of Kentucky in 2015, and he has taught percussion, music theory, orchestration, and music-related humanities courses at a number of colleges and universities in Illinois and Florida. He serves on the PAS Composition Committee, and his compositions are available through Alfred Music, Carl Fischer, Per-Mus Publications, and self-publication.

    Lucas SanchezLucas Sanchez enjoys a multi-faceted career as a timpanist, percussionist, and teacher. Sanchez performs with the Palm Beach Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwarz, the Florida Grand Opera, the Nu Deco Ensemble, and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. In the past he has appeared with the Houston Symphony and the Amarillo Symphony.

  • R!Solo: Of the Different Beats of the Drum For Solo Rudimental Snare Drum by Jeff Calissi

    by Rhythm Scene Staff | Aug 21, 2021

    The rope drum was considered “the radio of the battlefield” during the American Revolution, primarily because of its ability to project commands and signals. The drum and its fife counterpart were frequently paired as part of drills, exercises, marches, and parades that contributed to an esprit de corps and a sense of purpose and belonging within the newly formed colonial militia during its fight for independence.

    This solo is an amalgamation of several calls and signals that were first codified by United States Army Inspector General Baron von Steuben. The title of the solo is taken from a chapter in his 18th-century text. For further research, see “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States” by von Steuben as well as “American Music during the War for Independence” by Simon Anderson, and “Military Music of the American Revolution” by Raoul Camus.

    The dynamic is forte throughout, there are no accents, and the tempo should be maintained consistently at approximately 100 bpm. Take care to open the sound of the double-stroke rolls along with the flams and drags. The 7-stroke rolls should start on the left hand and the rest of the sticking should be generally alternated. 

    Although these calls and signals were intended for a military rope drum, the solo is presented here in the manner of a “concert” rudimental solo appropriate for recital performance. Interspersed within the solo are the following calls and signals, which served the purpose of outdoor communication:

    “The Drummers Call” summoned the drummers to announce special messages and assemble the other drummers on parade. Except for the drum used by the orderly drummer on duty at the guardhouse, all drums were piled in front of the adjutant officer’s tent. In order to gather the musicians prior to the beating of any call, “The Drummers Call” would have been played.

    “The General” was beat to warn the army that they were to move that day, and a chain of events was instituted upon its sounding: rise, dress, strike the tents, and prepare for the march. “The General” sometimes replaced “Reveille,” especially on days there was a march, and came as early as two or three o’clock in the morning. 

    “The March” was used as a signal to advance from as early as the 16th century through the 19th century; however, the definition of “march” was broadened throughout that time to include a signal for a unit to begin moving in a particular direction. It was not implied the drumbeat was to continue for the whole period of the march, as the men would be on the road for the greater part of a day.

    On the Different Beats of the Drum

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    Jeff CalissiDr. Jeff Calissi
    is an associate professor of music at Eastern Connecticut State University, where he directs the Eastern Percussion Studio, teaches courses in music theory, ear-training, and sight-singing, and performs in the faculty percussion duo Confluence. He has performed and presented at the conferences of the College Music Society, the Percussive Arts Society, the Eastern Trombone Workshop, the International Tuba and Euphonium Conference, the National Conference on Percussion Pedagogy, and at the Center for Mallet Percussion Research. His compositions and arrangements are available from C. Alan Publications and Garden State Publications, and his writings and research can be found in Percussive Notes and Rhythm! Scene.  Jeff received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Radford University and both Master of Music andDoctor of Musical Arts degrees in Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda national music honor society. For more information, visit

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