Welcome to the ERSKN Afro-Cuban Essentials Play-Along app, featuring Aaron Serfaty. I have known Aaron for many years, and he is the “go-to” guy for Afro-Cuban and Brazilian drumming in Los Angeles. He is also my trusted colleague at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. We are delighted to present this app to you. It has been designed and created for use by all musicians who are interested in increasing their understanding of listening to Afro-Cuban music and raising the level of their skills and artistry when playing this music.
The heart of Afro-Cuban music is understanding clave and the role each instrument plays, all while being able to play the “standards” of this music in common keys and at different tempos. With the combined professional and pedagogical experiences between the three musicians, these tracks target and explore an essential variety of requisite Afro-Cuban modes and styles.
Using the built-in mixer, the user can create their own combo: full rhythm section (trio), music-minus-piano, music-minus-bass, music-minus-drums, or solo tracks of drums-only, bass-only or piano-only PLUS any combination of congas, bongo and timbale percussion tracks. There are click-track and count-off options, too.
PDF lead sheets are included for the rhythm section. These charts can be printed or emailed from the app. There are also transcriptions of some of the piano montuno patterns as well as all of the relevant beats and patterns Aaron plays on a variety of instruments (drum set, congas, bongo and timbales, etc.)
We suggest you listen to the full band mixes at least once in order to hear how the musicians are playing this music — you now have a world-class Afro-Cuban rhythm section at your fingertips!
I asked Aaron what he wanted to say in these introductory remarks, and this is what he told me: “I’d like you to insist on the fact that we don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to play this music. Nurture Vs. Nature. No genetic code needed, just homework.”
There’s no better musical homework than listening and playing…and now, you can do both, any time and anywhere!