20 Clave Independence Exercises

I’ve been working on clave independence (with my cymbal hand, not my left foot) for a long time now. When I first starting thinking about working on it, I thought it might be close to impossible to get real freedom with it. I see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel now. I’m hoping that the type of exercises I’m offering in this lesson will eventually lead to the freedom I seek.

Here’s what we’ve got. The 20 exercises are based on the second summary page from Ted Reed’s Syncopation. That page is also known as “Exercise 2” or page 39. I’ve translated the notation into 16th notes so that two measures from the Ted Reed book become one measure on my page of exercises.

The Syncopation rhythms are intended for the left hand. The right hand plays clave (choose your sound source–cowbell, rim, cymbal, etc). The bass drum plays the “a” of 1, the “and” of 2, the “a” of 3 and the “and” of 4 (aka baion rhythm). I chose that bass drum pattern because it’s identifiably Brazillian/Latin and is easy to play fast (and I think it sounds badass).

These exercises are difficult; they’re true brain-twisters. That’s why I wrote them out; I simply could not superimpose the right hand and bass drum foot on top of the Syncopation page mentally. It was just too complex for me to do that. But they’re not difficult for the sake of doing something difficult; I’m hoping it will lead me to the musical freedom that I’ve been working towards with clave as a cymbal rhythm.

If you’re looking for a challenge, you should consider taking a crack at this. Good luck!

Here is the PDF with the exercises: 20 Clave Independence Exercises