Uncle Mafufo's Basic Rhythms for Arabic Drum

25 Essential Rhythms CD



Chas Whitaker

Hooray ! It's Uncle Mafufo time - Armando, or Uncle Mafufo as he is known as, is a great fun fantastic drummer form the U.S. with over 30 + years of playing experience with numerous CD releases to his name. What sets him apart in the video teacher stakes is his positive, humorous and completely relaxed delivery. This video concentrates on Dunbek exclusively and features a very nice sounding clay/fish version. First things first - it may include " basic " in the title but this is not a video for the complete beginner and especially those who appreciate slow patient build up. This instead I think is best suited for the confident beginner who is ready for a challenge and wants a lot of use from one video and for the Intermediate to Advanced you get plenty of fills, technique and 14+ rhythms to learn. It starts with a demonstration of UM playing various stuff and you know you have got a good player here. He then introduces himself and explains the terms used Dun, Tac and Ca and that he will explain rhythms by vocalizing them to a beat and that each rhythms' notation can be found on the back of the video cover. He plays seated style and talks about position and introduces the techniques for producing Dun, Tac and Ca - on Ca he mentions the forefinger/thumb held technique which all Arab drummers have shown me and insisted it is vital to learn for the best style of rolls. He also mentions that any and indeed all fingers can produce tacs. He shows muted Ka and demonstrates the trill aspect of this too. On to Slap (snap ) - he gives two versions - a soft cupped and loud cupped. One unique technique demonstrated is his lead hand flam used in rolls which he develops into a discussion of finger rolls which is good but complex. Then on to the rhythms - each one is presented in similar fashion and after showing the basic pattern he is off improvising and soloing away utilizing all his repertoire of techniques. This is why I think it is too much for the first time beginner and comments from other users of this tape confirm this. However the Int/Adv player has a wealth of material to keep pausing and rewinding that tape to work out what's going on. One unique element to this video is that before each rhythm is played the notation is shown on screen on a board and UM chants it out and bangs a stick on the notes in time like an earnest school mam - which is quite amusing on first viewing, it is useful for beginners to start reading this style of drum notation. The rhythms are presented in time signature sequence a là his 25 Essential Rhythms CD which is really a companion piece for this video - see CD's . First up are the 2/4's - AYOOB and KARACHI - as stated before you get a quick introduction to the basic pattern and then he's off ! AYOOB - slow as ZAR is shown, KARACHI is at one pace. Next is MALFUF and KALEEGI, during Malfuf more complex techniques are used but remember they are not explained. The version known as COCEK is shown : a " double first-dun " Malfuf. On Kaleegi he plays a lot of the versions which is good to hear as you need to know some of them so you can play them with other players to get the true polyrhythmic patterns. The first 4/4 is MAKSOOM explanation about the basic pattern is given and that the DEF would play this, and he's off again improvising. BELEDI is given it's original name of MASMOUDI SAGYHIR and he plays some versions e.g. " double duns " and ' 3 dun " which might be the Iraqi CHOBI. Next is SAHIDI - here he presents a version which is different to the standard version - do not panic !! There are many versions, it is just the first Tac which has been moved a half beat forward. UM also demonstrates some of the other versions too in his performance. Then we have WAHED TAWILA and the usual myriad of interpretations. 8/4 patterns start with MASMOODI KABIR and versions of, and the same for CHIFTITELLI. Next up is a rare chance to look at 6/8 patterning - UM is noted for his strong understanding and playing of Magrehbi style and he starts off by introducing some practice exercises in 3. First up is DARIG and the second pattern has no name but is common in Moroccan style playing and he again gives good variations. Just a shame this section didn't branch out to tackle the polyrhythms for SHABBI styles. Finally two 9/8 patterns - the Turkish/Greek KARSILAMA which he explains in the 12,12,12,123 patterning and gives more versions. SULUKULE is also known as ROMANY 9 presumably as Sulukele s the Gypsy quarter in Istanbul and follows the KARSILAMA in feel. And that's it. As stated - not my first choice recommendation for the new beginner but really good for the more experienced beginner and on to Int/Adv there is plenty of information to garner and unravel. Uncle Mafufo has such an infectious nature about him and a lovely relaxed playing style - it always feels good putting this video on for practice. Lots of rhythms and versions and plenty of technique - not always explained but you will get to a level where you understand enough to begin to work out yourself what is happening. Then it's a case of hours and hours of finger, wrist etc. strengthening exercises to play it fast, smoothly and with feel - and after all you have to do that yourself - video tuition helps you see and hear what is going on when a good player plays but you have to put in the work to achieve it yourself. Production values are fine - a little background sound occasionally and only a few camera angles - but what there is is perfectly fine. It's quality of content not how it's dressed up which is important and here you have a genuinely gifted player who comes over very well on screen and lots and lots of information to offer.

The video was revised which is the version I reviewed and now it comes on DVD.

Ideal for INT./ADV.

Overall - 9/10