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Ken Shorely is based in Nova Scotia Canada . He also has a DVD on darabuka and djembe more expressly designed for beginners. Read about it, or purchase Timezone, here.

and Marla Leigh is based in the Los Angeles area.

Visit Marla's website

Visit Ken Shorley's website

Video footage copyright © Ken Shorley and Marla Leigh, 2004
Duet copyright © Marla Leigh, 2004


Time Zone
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.

Watch 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.

"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:

Watch darabuka close up |||||||||||||||||||| Watch 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

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