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:
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!
Greg 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.