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by Anthea (Kawakib)
Playing Finger Cymbals in Tribal or Group Improvisation ...continued
The previous article introduced the method we use to incorporate playing finger cymbals with our Tribal Odyssey group improv bellydance. (Just to be clear, when I use the term “tribal” here I mean “group” - not a style of dance or costume.)
As I mentioned we use only 6 different cymbal patterns, and each pattern is played with two specific dance combinations. When we dance it probably sounds like we play a lot, but there are just as many or more combinations that are always done without playing the cymbals. It's good to have the choice of playing or not playing at any particular time.
Sometimes there are songs or parts of songs that I might decide will sound more effective without cymbals; to me a performance is all about what the music is saying, even in tribal improv dancing. There's a video playlist of my students doing Tribal Odyssey with finger cymbals on youtube.com/DanceEternal and I've also added up a short promo clip from the yet-to-be-produced “Level 2” DVD on incorporating cymbals with the dance combinations.
Using Your Cymbal Patterns to Best EffectOf the six finger cymbal patterns I listed in the previous article you'll see that there's a mix of complex (the 2-2-5, beledi, and 3-3-7) and simple (Singles, muted Beledi accents, Triples). That's enough variety so that we're not banging away with the SAME cymbal pattern, numbing everyone's ears, through the whole song. That would be especially annoying when we use the larger “performance cymbals”
When I myself am dancing with the group, in the Leader spot (either in class or a performance) often I'll think about how the music or rhythm sounds at that moment and which cymbal patterns fit best. Maybe I want a pattern that blends in seamlessly, or maybe I want the cymbals to add a decoration that stands out more noticeably against the music. Sometimes I'll alternate two dance combinations because of the sound effect the cymbal patterns have with the music at that particular moment.
That's an example of “music interpretation”, which you can do even in tribal improv. It's a more advanced approach to dancing so as beginners, you may not be able to incorporate in performance right now, but it's something to keep in the back of your mind. Especially if you use the same music and become familiar enough so that you can explore that in the moment, while you're dancing and playing cymbals.
If you're scheduled to perform always become as familiar with your music as possible; not only while practising - but listen to your music while you drive, do chores, work around the house, or just relax. It pays off big time, even in tribal improv style. A couple of my articles (Total Rehearsal Power; More Performance Tips) go into rehearsal techniques in more detail.
Have fun with your cymbal explorations!