These exercises are derived from the Seven Wheels Of Bembe by Gary Harding, as described in detail on page 48 of his book "Cuban and Brazilian Hand Drumming" (1994, Alemão Press)
WHAT IS BOUNCE MATRIX?
Bounce Matrix is a musical tool to help you develop mindfulness, pattern recognition and impulse control.
It's for everyone: musicians and non-musicians alike.
If you're training to get fit, play an instrument or build a skill, you know you need discipline. But while it takes discipline to face a challenge, it can be hard to stay present and resist the urge to hurry through things.
Bounce Matrix is a framework for developing the ability to pace yourself.
Passive listening is recommended at first while you learn the sequence, but you can also clap, run, dance or play along.
The patterns are strong musical medicine, if you will. Notice how your body reacts to the different seed rhythms and tempos, you'll find that your ability to inhabit time (and silence) deepens with each pass.
Put them on shuffle in the background, or analyze them if you want.
You don't need to understand what's going on, but here's what's going on:
There are seven unique iterations of Bounce Matrix, based on the rhythms found in the Bembe Wheel*. The texture of each seed rhythm is different but they share the same basic pattern and level of difficulty. The tracks are arranged and mixed identically, then sorted by tempo and seed rhythm.
Pick a track and listen to it all the way through, they range from 7-12 minutes in length.
It's a rhythmic exercise, so choose a tempo that feels right. If you're confused, start with a slower one (110-130 bpm) or zoom out to 190 for a bird's-eye view.
It's like a game: there's a steady pair of shakers keeping time (3-against-4), and a hi-hat signals the beginning of each new section.
Notes will go missing from the pattern and then reappear in a set order. It might sound like morse code until you understand the flow.
* Here are Gary Harding's original practice tracks for the 7 Wheels of Bembe:
* Here is an excellent graphic description of the 7 Wheels of Bembe:
Your job is to stay on the 1, keeping the downbeat internally until it all comes back together at the end. It might be easier said than done (depending on your musical cognition) but this program will help and challenge listeners of any ability or no ability.
The fun part is in trying not to get thrown off. Choose one of the shaker parts to focus on while everything else happens around it. One side beats 3 beats per bar, the other 4. You can use the "balance" control on your audio device to make one of them louder, and depending on which one you're following you'll hear completely different music. Try also changing your focus between the two.
Once you know the sequence you'll be able to stay oriented in the rhythm.
The track has two phases, and each phase has two sections. You'll hear the hi-hat cueing a new part, as if counting off a song.
Phase 1a. The first missing note will be the downbeat. Another note will get removed every 8 bars until there is only one note left, and then the process will reverse itself, re-assembling the pattern note by note.
Phase 1b. This time through, the missing note will come back when the next one is removed. You'll feel subtler dimensions of the rhythm.
At the end of phase 1, you'll hear the hi-hat signal again and two new layers will enter: a second seed rhythm and a basic kick/snare backbeat.
- The new rhythm is IDENTICAL to the first one, but set in a parallel timescale and beating in 4/4. It'll either be disorienting or funky, depending on where you're hearing the beat.
- The backbeat ("boom.. BAP") will provide orientation within the bar.
Phases 2a & 2b. The whole cycle repeats now with both of the low parts interlacing and interacting as the patterns change. The "bounce" will evolve, falling in different ways, and by the end of the track you'll have heard (and probably internalized) all angles of the seed rhythm.
Thanks for checking it out, this exercise has helped me a lot and I hope it helps you too. Possible applications for the audio program include running/workout, meditation, musical practice, energizing and relaxation among others. I'm in the process of developing a variety of sonic themes for different uses.
I'd love to know any thoughts you might have about it. Your feedback will guide me in its development if you complete a short survey: