workshop rythm


The Rhythm in contemporary music through non-Western techniques

MASTER CLASS by Paolo Cimmino

The Rhythm in Contemporary Music is a non-western techniques through workshops aimed at students from a classical and jazz training , and is designed for musicians, performers and composers.
The development of rhythmic possibilities , the last 100 years, in Western music was strongly influenced by the contribution of non-Western traditions. Most classical musicians, both in situations orchestral ensemble, will face a piece by Ligeti, Berio, Petrassi, Messiaen, Varèse and Xenakis, ( just to name a few well-known composers), while jazz musicians will be confronted with music influenced by authors such as Dave Holland, Avishai Cohen, Weather Report, Tigran Hamasyan or with elements from the Balkans, India, Africa and Cuba,
so the key to the interpretation offered by Solkattu can, in my opinion, enrich the form and provide new opportunities.

Through Solkattu (South Indian Tamil word meaning group of syllables), we will study complex systems rhythmic cadences and processes that help students to achieve a high degree of rhythmic precision and greater awareness in the interpretation of the graphic sign.
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The ultimate goal of the course is to enable students to achieve a high degree of understanding of these concepts and its subsequent use in music today. The combination of the concepts of Karnatic music and Western concepts of orchestration, counterpoint, polyphony and rhythmic arrangement constitutes the full and complete realization that a contemporary musician can, and should , aspire to.

The master class will include the study of:

  • Rhythmic complexity : Different types of Tala ( cycles) by three strokes up to nine shots
  • The study of irregular times and its subdivision
  • Using the Voice for phrasing and control of Sound, Rhythm and Cadences
  • Processing [applications on instruments membrane (drum, timpani, set up) and on melodic instruments (vibraphone, marimba)]
  • Analysis of Compositions, Rhythmic
  • Arrangement and Rhythm Modulations

During the master class will also address the issues of Multi set-up with the introduction of new instruments such as the Tar, the Bodran , the Riq, and the use of electronic instruments such as the marimba Midi Kat and loop machine. 



Tamburello & Frame Drums for beginners, intermediate or advanced by Paolo Cimmino


Percussion is communicated orally by the use of onomatopoeic or sound syllables witch are used to form phrases, rhythmic combinations and compositions. In the workshop they are adapted to the suite, the needs of a group and for people from
all backgrounds.

The workshop generally contains :

A simple Tala or time cycle is chosen and explained by the use of vocal Mnemonic phrases.
Introduction on the Syllables used for Solkattu in South India.

Application on the TAMBURELLO, basilar strokes, rhythmical exercises, accents and ghost notes;
Use of the left hand, use of the jingles.
Fingerings and Triplets. Irregular times and cyclic forms.
New fingering, fingering to use for fast tempo.

Patterns in different Tala; 3 beat cycle to 9 beat cycle.
In this part of the workshop I recommend a Tamburello but some participants may bring other types of frame drums such as bendir, tar, bodran, djembè, voice.

- Basilar Strokes for Bodran, hand snapping, split hand technique, Oriental dance rhythms

- Basilar strokes for Tar, Riq & kanjira

- Compositions. In different Tala; for Bodran, tar, riq and kanjira

- Theory & Analysis : Yati, Gati bedam, Jati;

The workshop include traditional Italian music and style : TAMMURRIATA (basilar strokes) and TARANTELLA (Basilar strokes and advanced technique in different styles, such as Pizzica and Montemarano)


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Frame drums (Tamburi a Cornice) in the Mediterranean area, La "Tammurriata"


My approach to these instruments which presumably originate with the ancient Sumerians is intimately humble. I am aware of their antique wisdom, of the patience with which they receive the beat of my hand, aware that through these instruments I am using and sharing one of the most important (for me) patrimonies of mankind music.


The invisible world, everything that lies beneath appearances, for me has a deep and essential significance which allows me to transform myself, and by extension, the world around me. Pauses, in music, are the shadows of its sounds, are what is unsaid yet clearly expressed.
I Tamburi a Cornice are closely linked to the cults of the divine feminine, Isis in Egypt, Demeter in Greece, the Great Mother in Rome, the Madonna of the Catholic tradition.

The hollow in the instrument represents the womb of the Goddess/Mother. Its circular form symbolically represents the sun and the moon, which are opposites but which complement each other as day and night, life and death, united and synthesized so that an androgynous vision of the universe emerges.

This leads us to the handling of the instrument.

In the masculine mode, the left hand holds the instrument and the right hand beats it. The hands are reversed in the feminine mode. (It is interesting to note the observation of the great master Roberto de Simone to whom we owe so much as a musician and scholar; he points out how the greatest players invert these positions).

The "castagnette" fundamental to the "tammurriata" also have strong male and female symbolism: their beating demonstrates to us the joining of the masculine and feminine. This suggests to us also depictions of the Madonna with the sun at her right and the moon on her left. These examples are only a few of the rich and infinite symbolic meanings of this musical form.


The function of the Tammorra is to accompany the traditional dance. The dance on the "tamburo" is composed of three basic elements: the "tammorra," the song, and the dance.

The song is enormously complex. Even the "fronna" which is a particular form of song from Campania is a category in itself. The complexity to which I referred is due to a great number of themes and styles. One element we should clarify is that the song is a song of devotion to the Madonna. There are seven madonnas, six of whom are interchangeable (the name varies from town to town), but the seventh is always the saure: the Madonna of Mount Vergine, also called the Black Madonna. It is fascinating how the cult of the seven madonnas has its origin in pre-Christian rites (the goddess Diana) which are common also to other European countries. Fascinating also is the symbolism of the number seven. This number represents the passing of the seasons. The Black Madonna is associated with Autumn and Winter, the season for sowing seeds, which precedes the other six madonnas who represent

The number seven also symbolizes the seven days of Creation, the colors of the rainbow, the planets, musical notes, the chakra....

The dance brings with it an equally enormous quantity of symbolic elements which would be impossible (for me) to discuss here. However, we can surely note certain features, gestures, and patterns which are typical of dance, such as the hand movements and jumping. These two features were schematized so that they appeared in Greek theatre performances in the fifth century. Dumping was a part of the dance of the satyrs, worshippers in the cult of Dionysius and Cybele, who were called "sikinnis." This dance was replaced later by the Bacchic dances.

The dance of the "tammuriata" is a couples dance, performed by two men and two women and expresses all that is suppressed in daily life. The circle which is inevitably formed is symbolically an attempt to flee from conventional time. The circle which is formed around the dancers serves to boost the energy of that moment.


- "La tammorra" is a circular frame about 8-10 cm deep over which is stretched a goat skin with tin bells around it. Its diameter varies from 35-60 cm.

- "Le castagnette" are composed of two pieces of wood tied together with a string which crosses over the upper part of the two pieces.

- "Putipù" also called "caccavella" is a terracotta pot or an old tin can covered with a skin. In the center of the skin is a cane pipe. Rubbing the cane pipe with a moist cloth gives a deep dark sound.

- "La tromba degli zingari" or "lo scacciapensieri" is common to many other cultures in the world. It is a curved piece of metal with a bronze prong in the center.

- "Il triccabballacche" is composed of three little wooden hammers attached to a wooden base. The central hammer is stationary, while the 2 lateral hammers are moveable. Beating the lateral hammers on the central one produces an acute sound, accentuated by cymbals placed on each hammer. 

- "sisco" or straight flute and the "flauto doppio" used in the "Giuglianese”.

- The "chitarra battente" is widely used in the Cilento region.

I have purposely avoided talking about the famous "Tarantella," one of world's most well-known musical forms. There are profound differences between the "Tammurriata" and the "Tarantella" in their function, symbolism, rhythmic pattern, and the characteristics of the instruments. In addition, the "Tarantella" is widespread in all of southern Italy. In each location,, it takes on different characteristics and expresses a particular world view. One particular form of the "Tarantella" in Campania is found in Montemarano in the province of Avellino. If you have never seen it, it is spectacular!

PROGRAM:  Workshop Tammuriata and Tarantella

La Tammurriata

  • Symbolism and Function
  • Notation & Basilar strokes
  • Introduction to different Tammurriata styles
  • The Tammurriata of agro-nocerino-sarnese, of Giugliano, of Somma, of Pomigliano d’arco, Monti lattari, of Avvocata di Maiori

La Tarantella

  • Symbolism and Function
  • Basilar strokes
  • La Tarantella di Montemarano
  • La Tarantella d’Ischia:this is a moresca still used in Buonopane in Ischia
  • La Tarantella : Italian Treasury Puglia : La Pizzica
  • La Pizzica ,the cure of spider’s
  • Danzimania:historical backgrounds
  • Notation & basilar strokes
  • Accents and displacement


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