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BEYONDSALSAPIANO

THECUBANTIMBAPIANOREVOLUTION

VOLUME6IvnMelnLewis,Pt.1
NOTEFORNOTETRANSCRIPTIONS

byKevinMoore
photographybyTomEhrlich
coverphotosubject:IvnMelnLewis

audioandvideocompanionproductsavailableatwww.timba.com/piano

REVISION1.0
2010BYKEVINMOORE
SANTACRUZ,CA
ALLRIGHTSRESERVED
Nopartofthispublicationmaybereproducedinwholeorinpart,orstoredinaretrieval
system,ortransmittedinanyformorbyanymeans,electronic,mechanical,photocopy,
recordingorotherwise,withoutwrittenpermissionoftheauthor.
ISBN10:1450545602
ISBN13/EAN13:9781450545600
www.timba.com/piano
www.timba.com/audio
www.timba.com/users/7
www.beyondsalsapiano.com
kevin@timba.com

TableofContents
IntroductiontotheSeries......................................................................................................................5
HowtheSeriesisOrganizedandSold................................................................................................5
Book...................................................................................................................................................5
Audio..................................................................................................................................................5
Video..................................................................................................................................................6
SeriesOverview..................................................................................................................................6
IntroductiontoVolume6.......................................................................................................................7
Chapter1:BiographyandDiscographyofMelnLewis........................................................................9
1995:Elaoqueviene.....................................................................................................................10
1996:FromAfricatoCamagey......................................................................................................11
1997:Otraidea................................................................................................................................12
1997:ExclusivoparaCuba...............................................................................................................13
1997:GraciasFormell......................................................................................................................14
2000:Battang.................................................................................................................................15
Chapter2:TimbaGearsfromthePianistsPerspective......................................................................16
WhatareTimbaGears?....................................................................................................................16
TimbaGearsinTheIssacDelgadoGroupof19961998..................................................................16
TheOverallFlowofGearsinaLiveTimbaPerformance.................................................................17
NavigatingtheGearChangesonPiano............................................................................................20
Chapter3:NoteforNoteTranscriptions.............................................................................................22
Nomemiresalosojos.....................................................................................................................22
MelnsFingeringofRightHandOctaves....................................................................................22
ANoteonChordProgressionsandTraditionalSalsaPianoPlaying............................................24
Lavidasinesperanza.......................................................................................................................28
3

MuelaGearinLavidasinesperanza............................................................................................39
ANoteonClave............................................................................................................................41
Chapter4:UnderstandingMelnsOpenMontunoStyle...................................................................50
TheMindsetoftheTimbaPianist....................................................................................................52
1.

TheNoteforNoteApproach...............................................................................................52

2.

TheThemeandVariationsApproach...................................................................................52

3.

TheThemeandSoloApproach............................................................................................52

4.

TheControlledImprovisationApproach..............................................................................53

LookingAhead......................................................................................................................................54
Appendix1:FrequentlyAskedQuestions............................................................................................55
WhatistheroleofthepianoinaLatinensemble?.........................................................................55
WhatsTheDifferencebetweenatumbao,aguajeoandamontuno?.................................55
Whyiseveryexampleshowninboth16thnotesand8thnotes?.....................................................55
HowcanIimprovemytimefeelandsenseofclave?......................................................................55
Appendix2:GlossaryGeneralTerms................................................................................................56
Appendix3:ForFurtherStudy.............................................................................................................61
SuggestedReading...........................................................................................................................61
SuggestedListeningtoPrepareforSubsequentVolumes...............................................................62
Acknowledgments................................................................................................................................64
AbouttheAuthor.................................................................................................................................64
EarlierVolumesofBeyondSalsaPiano............................................................................................65
ContinuingtheBeyondSalsaPianoCourse.....................................................................................68

IntroductiontotheSeries
HowtheSeriesisOrganizedandSold
EachvolumeofBeyondSalsaPianoconsistsoftwoorthreeseparatelysoldproducts:
1) abooklikethisonewithtextandmusicalnotation(hardcopyoreBook)
2) downloadable MP3 audio files demonstrating the musical examples, accompanied by a
claveclicktrack,atfullspeedandinslowmotion,withtheleftandrighthandspannedhard
leftandright
3) when available, downloadable computer video files showing a Cuban pianist performing
eachmusicalexampleatfullspeed,inslowmotion,andwithvariations
Youcanchooseanycombinationofthethreetofitwithyourpersonalstyleoflearning.

Book
Thebookyourereadingnowcanbepurchasedatwww.createspace.com/3427351asahardcopy
boundpaperbackbook.Alternatively,itcanbeviewedonlineand/orprintedonyourcomputers
printer from the website www.timba.com/piano. The books contain music notation for each
exerciseinboth8thnotes(Americanstyle)and16thnotes(Cubanstyle),aswellasexplanatorytext
and historical information. If you dont read music and arent interested in the explanations and
history,youcanchoosetobuyonlytheaudioand/orvideoproducts.

Audio
Theaudiofilesdonotcomewiththebook.Theyreavailableasaseparatedownloadableproduct
fromwww.timba.com/audio.Foreachnotationexample,therearetwoultrahighqualityMP3files
madedirectlyfrom24bitwavefiles.Thefirstisrecordedatnormaltempoandthesecondinslow
motionat50beatsperminute.Eachfilebeginswithacountoffconsistingoffourmainbeatsonthe
bellandonecycleofclave.Afterthecountoff,thebelldropsoutwhiletheclavecontinues.Theright
andlefthandpianopartsareseparatedandpannedhardrightandleftrespectively.Thisway,you
can use the balance control to solo just one hand. The audio files can be burned to audio CDs or
played on an MP3 player. If you have audio on your computer, I highly recommend taking
advantageofthenewgenerationofcomputerprogramswhichwillallowyoutochangethetempo
and/or key of any of these audio files and to loop them to fit your style of practice. Particularly
usefulare:AmazingSlowdowner,Transcribe!andEmulatorX,allofwhichcanbedownloaded
fromtheirrespectivecompanieswebsites.

Video
The video product, like the audio product, will be available as a separate download from
www.timba.com/audio.Therewillbeonevideofileforeachexercise.Thepianistisexpectedtobe
IvnMelnLewis,oneofthegreatestCubanpianistsofalltimeandthesubjectofVolumes6,7,8
and9. Melnplayseachexerciseslowly,thenatfullspeed,and finallyaddsvariationssuchashe
mightuseinaliveperformance.

SeriesOverview
BeyondSalsaPianoisahistoryandanthologyoftheroleofthepianointheCubanrhythmsection
fromitsfirstappearancetothepresent.Inabroadersense,itsastudyofthetumbaotheartof
creatingmusicfromlayersofrepeatingrhythmicandmelodicphrases.Whetherthesesyncopated
figuresare calledtumbaos,guajeos,montunos,riffsorvamps,thisAfroCubanconceptliesatthe
heartofnearlyeverypopularmusicgenrefromsalsatorock,funk,R&B,hiphopandjazz.
While presented as a set of method books, the series doubles as a history course and record
collectingguideforlisteners,dancers,andplayersofinstrumentsotherthanthepiano.
Perhapsthemostimportantgoaloftheseriesistoprovideacomprehensiveunderstandingofhow
tumbaosareconstructed,theircentralroleinthetextureofLatinmusicofalleras,andtheendless
possibilitiestheyprovideforcreativecomposingandarranging.
Volume1beginsaround1900andcoverstheoriginsofthetumbaoconceptusingexercisesadapted
fromgenressuchaschang,danzn,andsonwhichpredatetheuseofpianoastheprimary
instrumentfortumbaosinCubanmusic.Thismaterialisdesignedtobeplayablebynearbeginners,
playersofotherinstruments,andarrangersseekingtoacquireabasicfacilityonpiano.
Volume 2 covers the period from 19401959, during which the piano became a constant and
dominant presence in nearly every Latin rhythm section and during which Cuban music had a
profoundglobalinfluenceonallformsofpopularmusic.Thedifficultylevelrangesfrombeginning
tointermediate.
Volumes3and4covertheeclecticperiodbetweentheCubanRevolutionandtheFalloftheBerlin
Wallfrom1959to1989.
Volume5introducesthetimbagenrethatbeganinthe1990s.Itincludesahistoryanddiscography
of the era, a detailed description of rhythm section gears, a list of the most important piano
innovations of the 1990s, and finally a series of 32 instructional tumbaos, all on the same chord
progression,demonstratingtheseinnovations.
FromthisVolume6onwards,eachbookconcentratesonthestyleofoneCubanpianist,withnote
fornotetranscriptions,basedinmostcasesonMIDIfilesperformedbythepianistinquestion.For
6

example, the subject of Volumes 6 through 9 will be Ivn Meln Lewis, the phenomenally
innovativepianistwhoplayedwithTheIssacDelgadogroupfrom1995to1998.

IntroductiontoVolume6
In 1999 I began a project of meeting with almost all of the major modern Cuban pianists and
recordingMIDIfilesofthemplayingtumbaosalongwithaclaveclicktrack.Ialsocollectedwritten
transcriptionsandmadesomeofmyown.AlltoldIhaveenoughmaterialforatleast30volumeson
Cubanpianomastersofthe1990sandbeyond.Acompanionseries,BeyondSalsaPercussion,isalso
planned.
Thestylesoftheleadingpianists,whiletheysharecertaincharacteristics,areprofoundlydifferent.
Eachvolume,beginningwiththisone,willcovertheworkofasinglepianist.Asweprogressthrough
thevariousgiantsoftheera,IexpectthatthereaderwillbeasexcitedasIwastodiscoverthatthe
tumbaos of, for example, Meln Lewis, Tirso Duarte and Juan Carlos Gonzlez, are nearly as
different and varied as the sonatas of Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart. Each represents a colorful
pianisticworlduntoitself,fullyworthyofanindependentstudy.
Well begin with Ivn Gonzlez Lewis, better known simply as Meln. Meln was active on the
Havana timba scene for only about three and a half years, but in that short time, he achieved
legendary status. In the voting for the timba.com readers award for Best Pianist of AllTime he
cameinsecondonlytoLosVanVaniconPupyPedroso.
BythetimeofMelnsarrivalonthesceneinlate1994,manyofthepianoinnovationsdiscussedin
Volume 5 were already in practice in the work of Csar Pupy Pedroso, Rodolfo Peruchn
Argudn,JuanCarlosGonzlezandTonyPrez,allofwhomwilleventuallybethesubjectsoftheir
ownvolumesinthisseries.Melnassimilatedandextendedtheseinnovationsandaddedmoreof
hisown,butthemostdramaticcharacteristicofhisstylewasthedegreetowhichhewasableto
improvisewithintherhythmsectioncontextofplayingpianotumbaos.Wedevotespecialattention
to this concept of controlled improvisation over the course of the four Meln volumes, which
cover most of the important tumbaos from his Cuban recordings and live performances. If these
volumesarewellreceivedIhopetoconvinceMelnnowlivinginSpaintoprovidematerialfor
additional volumes, perhaps developing new educational approaches based on feedback from
readers.
Asthetimbapianistsrevolutionizedtheconceptofthepianotumbao,asimilartransformationwas
occurringinCubanbassplaying.EachofPupyPedrososinnovativepianotumbaoswascreatedin
tandemwithaJuanFormellbasstumbao.PeruchnplayedwiththegroundbreakingbassistFeliciano
Arango, the first to popularize bomba slides and many other timba bass innovations. Juan Carlos
GonzlezplayedwithPedroPabloGutirrez,whobroughtanunprecedenteddegreeofmelodicism
to Latin bass playing. But it was Issac Delgado, in mid1996, who engineered the most celebrated
7

pianoandbasspairingofthe90swhenheteamedMelnwithayoungvirtuosobassistnamedAlain
Prez. Each was the eras most complete musician on his instrument; each was a brilliant and
prolific arranger; each was equally comfortable playing jazz and dance music; and both shared a
uniquegiftforimprovisingwithinthegroovetocreateastylethatwasperfectlysuitedtoDelgados
flexibleandadventurousapproachtoliveperformance.
Therearemanymeasuresbywhichtimbabandscanbecompared,andbychangingthemetric,a
powerfulgreatestofalltimeargumentcouldbemadeforatleasthalfadozenHavanabandsof
the 90s, but in terms of marrying the infectious pop genius of timba with the freedom and
sophistication of Latin jazz, no one before or since has approached the level of the live
performances of the Delgado group with Meln and Alain Prez. To try to capture some of this
magic, weve included, in addition to our usual tumbao transcriptions and analyses, a number of
improvisedpassagestohelpthereaderunderstandhowapianistcanuseharmonicand rhythmic
freedomtoenhancepopmusicwithoutlosinganyofitsfunky,visceral,danceableappeal.
Tohearthisband,otherthanthestudiorecordingExclusivoparaCuba,lookforanoffbrandDVD
entitled Festival, various audio concerts floating around among collectors, and a possible reunion
tourthatsbeendiscussedforthe2010decade.Alsocheckwww.timba.comforupdates.

Chapter3:NoteforNoteTranscriptions
Nomemiresalosojos

#
b

& b 44 ..

? b 4
..
b 4


..
b

.
.

No me mires a los ojos 1a - basic - tracks 1 & 2


b 4 . # J .
b
.
.
& 4
J

#
? b b 44
..
..

No me mires a los ojos 1a - basic - tracks 1 & 2

Our first tumbao is a very famous one, and a perfect example of the most critical timba piano
innovationtheideathatthepianotumbaobeahookbywhichthesongcanbeidentifiedand
thatcontributesgreatlytothesongspopularity.Ifyouplaytheabovetumbao,Nomemires1a,for
anytimbafan,thepersonwillimmediatelyknowwhichsongitsfrom.
Examining the hands separately reveals another major timba piano innovation: there are three
places where the left hand adds an extra note between two right hand notes, a technique never
usedbeforetimba.Nooneseemstoknowwhocameupwiththisideafirst,butaswellseeshortly,
Melnwasthefirsttouseitasacentralpartofhisstyle.
MelnsFingeringofRightHandOctaves
With regard to playing octaves in the right hand, some pianists play them, as
expected,withthethumbandpinkie(fingers1and5).Meln,however,oftenuses
1and4whentheoctaveisplayedonblackkeys,switchingtothenormal1and5
for white key octaves. Try both methods to see which works best for your hand
size. If your hand cant reach an octave, play only the top note and experiment
withthesettingsonyourkeyboardtotrytoapproximatethetimbreofplayingin
octaves.

22

No me mires a los ojos 1b - variation - tracks 3 & 4


n #
& b ..

? b ..
n #
b


..

..

No me mires a los ojos 1b - variation - tracks 3 & 4



n # J ..
& b ..
J

? b ..
n #
..
b

Nomemires1bispresentedasaloopforlearningpurposes,butMelnneverplayedthisvariation
morethanonceinsuccession.Itsusedtoaddvarietyandrhythmictension,especiallyduringthe
presin(pianobreakdown)sections.AlsoseeVolume5,Estudio10formoreonthisrhythmicfigure.
No me mires a los ojos 1c - fill - tracks 5 & 6

# n

# n n
? b b ..
R

bb .
.
& R


bb ..
& J

? b b J ..

# n

# n n

No me mires a los ojos 1c - fill - tracks 5 & 6

..
.
.


..
J J

..
J J

No me mires 1c is another example of a variation thats normally only played once in succession,
and often during a piano breakdown. In actual practice you would loop tumbao 1a, occasionally
throwinginonerepetitionoftumbao1b,ortumbao1c,oranothervariation,orallowthemallto
blendintocontrolledimprovisation.
Wellhavemoreoncontrolledimprovisationinthenextchapterandalotmoreonthesubjectin
Volume8inthesectiononPorqupar.
23

Appendix3:ForFurtherStudy
SuggestedReading
EarlierVolumesofthisSeries:
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.1TheRootsofthePianoTumbao,byKevinMoore
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.2EarlyCubanPianoTumbaos:19401959,byKevinMoore
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.3CubanPianoTumbaos:19601979,byKevinMoore
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.4CubanPianoTumbaos:19791989,byKevinMoore
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.5IntroductiontoTimba,byKevinMoore
LaterVolumesofthisSeries:
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.7IvnMelnLewis,Pt.2,byKevinMoore
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.8IvnMelnLewis,Pt.3,byKevinMoore
BeyondSalsaPiano,Vol.9IvnMelnLewis,Pt.4,byKevinMoore
Overview:
CubaanditsMusic,byNedSublette,ChicagoReviewPress
TheClaveMatrix,byDavidPealosa,BembeBooks
www.timba.com
Discography:
CristbalDazAyala(http://latinpop.fiu.edu/discography.html)
www.timba.com
AfroCubanFolkloricMusicandTumbaoTimeFeel:
TheCongaDrummersGuidebook,byMichaelSpiro,SherMusic
(downloadableatwww.latinpulsemusic.com)
TraditionalSalsaPiano:
TheSalsaGuidebook,byRebecaMaulenSantana,SherMusic
101Montunos,byRebecaMaulenSantana,SherMusic
Timba:
TheTomsCruzCongaMethod,Vols.IIIIII,byTomsCruz,KevinMoore,MikeGeraldandOrlando
Fiol,MelBayPublications
TexttoTuneAlignmentintheMusicofCharangaHabanera,byRyanMeadHonorsThesisat
StanfordUniversity,2007.Availableat:ryanmead.com/Thesis.pdf
www.timba.com

61

SuggestedListeningtoPrepareforSubsequentVolumes
**indicatesalbumdownload(w/fullbooklet)isavailableonwww.latinpulsemusic.comasof2010.
Thislistischosenforbothoverallmusicalqualityandrelevancetothetumbaosandpianiststhatwillappearin
futurevolumesoftheBeyondSalsaPianoseries.

GROUP

ALBUM

PIANIST

LABEL

PaulitoFGysulite

Conlaconcienciatranquila

SergioNoroa

NuevaFania**

PaulitoFG(Elbuenosoyyo)

EmilioMorales

NuevaFania**

Bamboleo

Yonomeparezcoanadie

LzaroValds

AhNam**

Yanohacefalta

LzaroValds

AhNam**

o!

LzaroValds

AhNam

CharangaHabanera

HeyYouLoca

JuanCarlosGonzlez

MagicMusic**

PaqueseentereLaHabana

JuanCarlosGonzlez

MagicMusic**

Tremendodelirio

JuanCarlosGonzlez

MagicMusic**

Charangueromayor

TirsoDuarte

CiocanMusic**

LiveintheUSA

TirsoDuarte

CiocanMusic**

ChanChanCharanga

TirsoDuarte

CiocanMusic**

DannyLozada

Tantoleped

JuanCarlosGonzlez

IssacDelgado

Rarities(ExclusivoparaCuba)

IvnMelnLewis

CiocanMusic**

Elaoqueviene

IvnMelnLewis

RMM

Otraidea

IvnMelnLewis

RMM

Laprimeranoche

PepeRivero

ARTEX**

Lafrmula

RobertoCarlos

AhNam**

Manoln

Paramigente

ChakaNpoles

AhNam**

Debuenafe

ChakaNpoles

BlueMetro

Jaquemate

ChakaNpoles

Caribe

Elpuente

ChakaNpoles

CiocanMusic**

LosVanVan

DiscoAzcar

PupyPedroso

ARTEX**

Loltimoenvivo

PupyPedroso

QBADisc

Aydios,amprame

PupyPedroso

CaribeRecords**

Estoteponelacabezamala

PupyPedroso

CaribeRecords**

LlegVanVan

PupyPedroso

PimientaRecords**

Chapeando

RobertoCarlos

UnicornioRecords**

NGLaBanda

Enlacalle

PeruchnArgudn

QBADisc

SimplementelomejordeNG

PeruchnArgudn

ARTEX(BIS)**

62

GROUP

ALBUM

PIANIST

LABEL

Klmax

Mirasitegusta

TonyPrez

Eurotropical

Juegodemanos

Huicho

Eurotropical

Oyecomova

MarcosCrego

Eurotropical

KlmaxandManolito

ConciertoEurotropicalI

Huicho/Manolito

Eurotropical

ManolitoysuTrabuco

Directoalcorazn

ManolitoSimonet

BembRecords

Contratodoslosprognsticos

ManolitoSimonet

Eurotropical

Marcandoladistancia

ManolitoSimonet

Eurotropical

ParaquebaileCuba

ManolitoSimonet

Eurotropical

Serompieronlostermmetros

ManolitoSimonet

Eurotropical

Hablandoenserio

ManolitoSimonet

EGREM

LosQueSonSon

Qucosastienelavida

PupyPedroso

EGREM

Labuenagente

PupyPedroso

PimientaRecords

Mitimbacerr

PupyPedroso

EGREM

Tranquiloqueyocontrol

PupyPedroso

EGREM

RevysuCharangn

Sesiguecomentando

RoyAlainSain

BIS**

Fresquecito

WilfredoNaranjo,Jr.

BIS**

AzcarNegra

Andarandando

AisarSimn

BIS**

MichelMaza

Fieeesta

SergioNoroa

Envidia**

Quehablenloshabladores

SergioNoroa

Envidia**

AngelBonne

Circunstancias

YanielElMaj

EGREM

Bonne&BonneCo.

WilfredoNaranjo,Jr.

EGREM

Various

GraciasFormell

MelnLewis,
EmilioMorales

Ciocan**

For suggested listening within the 19601989 time period, please see the Discography and Online
BooksectionsoftheTimbapediasectionofwww.timba.com.

63

Acknowledgments
photography:TomEhrlich
editing and conceptual guidance: Orlando Fiol, David Pealosa, Curtis Lanoue, Toms Cruz, Bill
Wolfer,OsvaldoMartnez,MarcBischoff,GabrielWilder,SueTaylor,PeterMaiden,DavidCantrell,
Ryan Mead, Michael Spiro, Roberto Morris, Wendy Black, Alexey Berlind, Michael Lazarus, Colin
Johnson,MajelaSerrano,AbelRobaina.

AbouttheAuthor

MelnLewis,KevinMooreLosAngeles,2009

KevinMoore(kevin@timba.com)isthecofounderandmusiceditorfortheworldslargestCuban
musicwebsite,www.timba.com,towhichhehascontributedthefreeonlinemultimediabookThe
RootsofTimba,dozensofbooklengtharticles,discographies,recordanalyses,interviewsandthe
dailyCubanmusicblogLaltima,whichisnearingits10thyearofpublication.
In the early 2000s Kevin cowrote The Toms Cruz Conga Method, Volumes 13, a critically
acclaimedmethodbookusedasatextatvariouseducationalinstitutions.

TheTomsCruzCongaMethodVolumes1,2,and3

PublishedbyMelBay

64

As musical director, composer, arranger and violinist of the Californiabased salsa band Orquesta
Gitanohecoproducedthe1998CDSalsaGitana.

Availableforpurchaseanddownloadatwww.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/2

EarlierVolumesofBeyondSalsaPiano
BeyondSalsaPianoVolume1

www.createspace.com/1000252022
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/353

65

BeyondSalsaPianoVolume2

www.createspace.com/3419799
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/359

BeyondSalsaPianoVolume3

www.createspace.com/3427343
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/361
66

BeyondSalsaPianoVolume4

https://www.createspace.com/3427345
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/363

BeyondSalsaPianoVolume5

www.createspace.com/3427349
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/363
67

ContinuingtheBeyondSalsaPianoCourse
BeyondSalsaPianoVolume7

www.createspace.com/3427354
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/365

BeyondSalsaPianoVolume8

www.createspace.com/3427355
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/366
68

BeyondSalsaPianoVolume9

www.createspace.com/3427357
www.latinpulsemusic.com/albums/show/367

ForacompletelyupdatedlistofallBeyondSalsaPianoproducts:
www.timba.com/piano

Foraudioandvideofilestosupplementthisbook:
www.timba.com/audio

69