Alexandre Damasceno

CESEM — FCSH: Nova University

Development of musical motives in the drums: a theoretical and practical approach to their use in the study and musical performance in this instrument

The purpose of this article is to discuss and exemplify the use of the concepts proposed by Terry O’Mahoney in his Motivic Drumset Soloing method when applied to the construction and/or development of rhythmic motifs in the contexts of accompaniment and improvisation in the drums. When we start from the principle of the variation of musical motifs as a tool for the development of musical discourse, we adopt some procedures of the mentioned method to exemplify the use of these in the drums, within a context composed almost exclusively by rhythmic elements. Procedures normally used as compositing techniques, such as imitation, inversion, retrogradation, augmentation, and embellishment, to name a few, were applied to the drums with two main objectives. 1) To develop an organization for the study of motivic development, by promoting a small systematization of possible procedures for the construction of grooves, compings, and improvisations. 2) Produce theoretical material that is appropriate and helps the task of musical analysis, in our case, specifically the drums. To achieve this, we have written several musical examples using the parts of a standard drum kit: bass drum, snare drum, ton-tons, floor ton, hit-hat and cymbals. The examples are mostly easy to perform since the principles involved in the discussion are independent of technical complexity; on the contrary, they become more readable when exposed clearly and objectively, with the minimum of rhythmic figures necessary for their understanding. In addition to these examples, we also use the same procedures discussed during the musical analysis of some transcriptions made by us. The aim of this study was to determine if the technique used would find reliable employability when submitted to the screening of artistic performance performed by other musicians. In view of the proposals made, the results obtained were extremely satisfactory. It was verified through results achieved directly with some students, and even with regard to the personal performance of the author of this article, that the organization proposed by O’Mahoney, helps the gradual development of the subject addressed when it proposes to discuss individually each of the procedures described for the study of motivic development. In addition, the ability of these procedures to be used for musical analysis, focusing on the drums instrument, has also been proven. We were able to, using them almost exclusively, construct a coherent structural analysis and also create a panorama of the musical performance that took place.

Keywords: Drums; Improvisation; Performance


Currently studying for a Doctorate in Musical Arts by Universidad Nova de Lisboa, Master in Music – UNICAMP in the area of Musical Performance, Specialist in Teaching in Higher Education by FMU and Bachelor in Music – Drum instrument – by the Faculty of Arts Alcântara Machado. He is a drum teacher in the Alcântara Machado Arts Faculty and the São Caetano do Sul Arts Foundation. As an instrumentalist, he participated in the recording of CDs / DVDs among they are the DVD of Zizi Possi, “Para Inglês Ver e Ouvir”, nominated for the TIM 2006 Award, the CDs “Nem” and “Emily” of the singer and composer Cid Campos and the CD Piratininga, of the group Aquilo Del Nisso. He has also participated in concerts with artists such as Phil de Greg, Henry Greindl, Eva Jagun, Iva Bittova, Caetano Veloso, Arnaldo Antunes, Jaques Morelenbaum, Guinga, Gal Costa and many others.