donderdag 12 december 2013

Brazil music trip.

Well, hi there,
In my last post I explained a little bit about the plans that Matthias and I have. Next year in october and november we are going to travel to Brazil to film and record rhythms and techniques from Brasil.
Our focus will be on the rhythms from Bahia and the beautiful pandeiro.
In the past weeks we have practiced our camera work and working together. So we filmed a choroconcert in Rotterdam, which was fun to do! The purpose is working as a team and learning how our camera's work. So when we arrive in Brazil we are not only good percussion players, but also a good filmteam!
Working together with camera's is completely different then in music. Music for Matthias and me comes naturally. We found out that camerawork takes a lot of preparation. To get the same colors, volumes and shots is difficult. I think we made many mistakes, but it is good to see those silly mistakes.... We still have a lot to learn.

We are also trying to do some crowd funding and this is new for us too. Okay, it is important for our project to succeed and here we have to learn too. Let me explain what we are going to do with all the information we get in Brazil.
Matthias and me are both teachers. Matthias teaches on EPM Holanda and I have a percussion school: Sambalanço. We both give workshops on schools and to groups (amateur and professional).
We are going to make 2 different e-books with music, audio, film and music notations. The good thing about e-books is that it is easy to download and to spread all over the world. We will write it in different languages, so it becomes easy to understand.
There will be coming a book about the pandeiro. There are many styles of playing like samba, coco, forro ect. All are with different techniques! So we will travel from Pernambuco to South Brasil to visit the masters on pandeiro with their rhythms and styles.
The other book will be about the Bloco's Afro. The rhythms that are played by: Ilê Aiye, Olodum, Timbalada, Malê Debalê ect.
In both books we will put background information about the history and the development.
Of course Youtube will also be important to share our information and to let people all over the world know what beautiful music is made in Brazil!

We are happy with all the help we can get. If you want to support us you can donate on my website: If you note that it is for the Brasil music trip, it will be fine.

We will keep you informed about our developments! Thanks!
Michael de Miranda.

woensdag 9 oktober 2013

Blocos Afro from Bahia


The last few months I have been working with Matthias Haffner. He is a great percussion player from Germany, living in Rotterdam. Together we made some good lessons about the pandeiro.
Well, we are planning to go to Brasil next year! Matthias is going to help me making a book (and filming, recording) about the Bloco Afro in Bahia!!! Bloco means group.
In Bahia you have a lot of good groups like: Olodum, Ilê Aiyê, Muzenza, Timbalada, Malê Debalê ect. They all play very nice rhythms, but unfortunately there is still no music book with the beautiful rhythms they play.
There are good books about samba's, but the samba-reggae's, afoxés, Ijexá ect. in the styles of the Blocos? I haven't found them yet.
So, this is what I want to do, write a book about these Blocos!
Next year in October and November we are going for 2 months to learn, study and write down their music!
Matthias has also an other goal, he wants to make a documentary about pandeiro players, old and young ones. There are many different styles of playing. Of course samba is famous, but you also have the forro-styles and Coco and more. To see and film the different players we will go to Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Pernambuco ect. So, we will travel through Brasil with our camera's and recording equipment!!
We have 1 year to prepare ourselves. We already have some good contacts in Brasil, but we need more. We both have to study our Portugese.... We have to learn to be a good cameraman (we start next week with this) and of course we need money. We understand it will be expensive, so we have to do crowd funding and raise money in other ways.

We are really looking forward in doing this and of course if you have some good advice or tips for us, let us now. We can use all the help we can get!!

I'll keep you posted on the developments!

maandag 25 maart 2013

Samba music.

It was 2 months ago that I received a mail from a producer in Brazil. The producer first gave me some compliments about my Youtube channel and I'm always happy when people enjoy my video's! That's why I make the lessons...
Anyway, he asked me if I could make 6 arrangements for samba in different styles. He mentioned samba schools like Mangueira, Salgueiro, Mocidade ect. The duration of the compositions had to be 4 minutes.
I was really surprised that he came to me with this, because he is living in Sao Paulo and in Sao Paulo you have lot of composers, percussion players, batucada groups and studio's! So why me? Of course I was really glad that a Brazilian producer came to a Dutch guy to ask him to record Brazilian music. But it funny if you think about it.
He gave me 2 weeks to complete it! So, for 2 weeks I lived in my studio, writing, recording and mixing samba!! The first 4 arrangements came quick, I had enough ideas to make nice music, but the last 2 (when you ran out of ideas) were more hard work! I was looking in books, watching youtube and so on, to get ideas and making the last pieces. In the end I even put berimbao in samba music! And it sounded great!
After 2 weeks I couldn't hear any samba anymore and this was during the carnival!!!!

It was a relief when I finished the job. I send the music to Brazil and luckily the producer was very happy! At this time he is making dance video's of it, which will be posted on websites. He will send me the end result and perhaps I'll post it here!
Now it's time for some Cuban percussion!!

woensdag 19 december 2012

The video of Nils

Well, the last post was about a video that I've made for Nils Fisher. Here it is! Just 8 bars of a great percussionist and I hope you will enjoy it!

zondag 9 december 2012

Percussion promo video.

Last week a good friend of mine and a great percussion player, Nils Fischer called me. For the ones who don't know him, he was playing in Drums United with Lucas van Merwijk and a lot of other great drummers. Nils also made his own CD a few years ago with his group Timbazo. He re-arranged the beautiful music of Joe Cuba! With his group he turned the music of Joe Cuba into nice, modern timba music.
Anyway, we know each other, because we have studied at the same school and we live in the same city (Rotterdam). Actually, our kids are in the same school too!
He called me, because he needs to make video too. Nils is sponsored by Pearl (percussion and drums) and Pearl wants to make a promotional video. Most of the artists of Pearl may play 8 bars at a tempo of 108 beats per minute. Pearl will put all the video's together and it will probably be a nice film with all kind of different drum grooves and instruments! I think it is a nice idea!
Nils is also following me on my Youtube channel, so he knows my way of filming and recording. I am glad that he likes the way my video's sound and that I may record him!
The piece he is going to play will be with timbales, bongo bell, shekere and he will play on 5 congas. Knowing Nils a little bit, it will be latin with timba influences and of course a small solo. It all has to fit in 8 bars, so there's not much time..... But Nils is a very virtuous percussionist, he can put a lot in there!

For me, this is the first time that through Youtube I got a job that is different being a percussionist myself. Now I'll be a kind of director, producer! I think it will be fun to do.
When the video is done, I hope I can share the end result with you all!


donderdag 22 november 2012

Merengue lesson

Last week I had invited 2 of my good friends to make a nice lesson about merengue. I've played some merengue in my live but I am not a great specialist in this rhythm from Santo Domingo. My 2 friends, Wigbert and Alfredo have much more experience on this subject. So they came to my place to help me out!
I had prepared my living room (my wife is always very glad when I occupy the room.....) with lamps, microphones and instruments etc. It takes me 1,5 hours to prepare the room.
When my friends arrived, we have to talk a lot because we don't see each other that much. Of course we start talking about the old days and have a laugh about the things we did back in that time. But finally we start recording and for me it is a busy day. I take care of the audio and video and I have to take care that it will be a good lesson.
During the recordings I found out that Alfredo and Wigbert are still very good players, but explaining the rhythms and techniques is a different story. Wigbert has some problems with the english language and Alfredo is having difficulties with the camera.... He is looking away a lot and he is talking to Wigbert instead of the camera.
It is surprising how much effect a camera and microphone can have on people. It can take a while before you get used to recordings and get comfortable with lamps and everything around it. Of course I am a musician and not a film producer or director. So I can make people comfortable in making music, but not with video recordings......
Anyway, when we played merengue together the 3 of us were enjoying it! Now I'm editing the movie and I'm very curieus about the responce. I think a lot of my subscribers will notice what I described, but I hope that everybody will enjoy the percussion lesson. The information that we gave is still very interesting and you can surely see the joy that we have playing together!
The next time I'll invite friends for making a lesson with me, I have prepare it better. And I got a new idea for youtube!! Perhaps I'll start a new channel in which I'll just play the beautiful rhythms with friends. There are so many nice drum rhythms I would like to share with you all. No lessons, just good percussion arrangements!

vrijdag 2 november 2012

Percussion cultures

I think, it was about 30 years ago that I started to play percussion. I was playing drums in our family band and my father said to me: Michael we are playing latin music, why don't you try to play these congas? This is how it all started for me.
I went to Rotterdam to study at the Conservatory and in my first year a great Cuban master (Justo Pelladito) came to give 2 weeks lessons to us. He left us with a lot of patterns for bata, congas and other instruments. Of course me and the other students practiced all the patterns in the years after he had left.
In 1989 I went to Cuba to study with Pelladito and other masters. Pelladito told me a lot about the different rumbas. Which way did they play in Matanzas, what is the difference with Havanna, how did the rumba get in Santiago de Cuba and so on! So I thought, those tumbadores are very, very important in rumba and you have to know how every pattern is in each rumba. My focus was still on the patterns, did I have the right timing, was my sound good ect.
The funny thing was, when I attended rumba parties in the street or when I went to the Sabado de rumba, I was told that rumba was not about the patterns for the tumbadores....... It is about the songs and about the dance!! The lyrics about social or political issues and the way of dancing are the main thing in rumba! This put my conga drumming in a complete different perspective.

This experience made me wanted to travel more and more to the countries with a strong percussion culture. I still wanted to learn the patterns from all kind of rhythms, but I was also more interested in backgrounds of the rhythms.
So I travelled to Africa (Senegal, Gambia) to study sabar and boucarabou. I just wanted to find out about patterns (still) and the context. The same with Brasil, I went to Recife for maracatú and frevo, to Salvadar da Bahia to see the bloco afro's and candomblé and to Rio de Janeiro for the escolas de samba.
Traveling to those countries gave me so much more information about the historical context, social aspects, ect. of the rhythms.
Do I use all this information when I teach or when I play in bands? No, in the end I'm still teaching and playing patterns, but it gives me a good feeling to carry this extra information with me. So if people all over the world ask me questions about rhythms I teach on Youtube, I'm glad to have information about the backgrounds. Of course, I do not know everything and I am always open for more knowledge about the percussion world!