by Ken Shorley and Marla Leigh
DVD review by Eric Stuer
TimeZone is based on a collection of eight finely
crafted duets for frame drum and darabuka, some written by Ken Shorely
and some by Marla Leigh.. This DVD embodies the Western orchestral
approach to world percussion. It would make an excellent addition
to the libraries of all serious world percussion students, who will
certainly enjoy learning the duets and studying the scores. Ken
and Marla are excellent musicians, as one would expect from a person
who mastered in Percussion
at CalArts and an orchestral percussion teacher who studied
intensively with Trichy
Sankaran and with John
Brownell. They are articulate throughout, both verbally and
manually..all performances are super clean and sound good.
a sample from duet #7
All the strokes used are first demonstrated slowly
and clearly, so that beginners to frame drum and darabuka will
get off on the right footing. This is very helpful; the sections
on the strokes of each drum would also make a good reference for
all new to frame drum & darabuka. However, the rest of the DVD
will be most useful to those who already have a bit of background
in music. The eight duets are well notated in both Western notation
and a usable shorthand which is explained in detail.
Time Zone is not so much a darabuka/frame drum method,
but a collection of original pieces to learn, practice, and perform.
The duets would make good recital pieces and so on. They are graduated
from easiest to hardest. The DVD is ideal for intermediate to advanced
music students, who may well be new
to darabuka and/or frame drum. The easiest duet,
Procession, is described by Mr. Shorley as follows:
"This piece is based on 5
rhythmic themes in a 4 beat rhythmic cycle, followed by 5 modified
versions of the same themes in a 3 beat rhythmic cycle. Both players
use the same themes, but use different numbers of repeats in order
to create a swirling, overlapping texture."
Despite the daunting description, the quarter note
remains constant, and none of the actual themes or rhythmic figures
are difficult individually.
Mr Shorley describes the second easiest piece like
"This piece features both players
moving through the same sequence of patterns, in changing time
signatures, from a nine beat cycle down to a three beat cycle.
After a unison introduction, the two players begin the sequence
again, but repeat each pattern a different number of times. The
end result is an ever evolving set of overlapping permutations.
Both players start in a unison 9/4, and eventually meet up in
a unison 3/4."
Many newbies I have encountered would surely go into 'student crisis'
mode just reading the description. Obviously this
is too much for those with no prior study of meter and other musical
principles. It will be fine for percussion or other music students
who can read a bit, but are new to these instruments. For total
newbies to music study , though, I would suggest a few months of
study first, on basics like different time cycles or time signatures,
and at least one of the notation systems.
On the other hand, if you are a drum student or
professional, if you can read basic rhythms in one or both of the
notation systems used, and if you really want to deepen your skills
and you like a little challenge, you will love Time Zone. The
duets are logically structured, interesting, and they are not as
hard to learn as they first seem. We had fun watching the scores
go by, listening to the music. This is a great way to improve or
maintain one's reading and playing skills. We also enjoyed playing
through "Procession", and will probably enjoy working
up one or more of the more difficult ones as well.
More plusses: the parts for each
piece are demonstrated individually in close-up, so that if you
are working on a particular part, you can isolate it and hear
and see/hear it played by itself. here are a couple of video examples,
from random duets:
darabuka close up ||||||||||||||||||||
frame drum close up
In addition, the fact that scores
are furnished in both Western notation and the shorthand means
that one can use Time Zone to study and compare the two notation
systems, which should be very useful for those familiar with one
but not the other..
All in all, Time Zone is well worth
the price, and should be useful to a great many percussionists
worldwide. Highly recommended.
Eric Stuer - January 2006