Percussion & Songs of the Orishas - Residential

Crowd of musicians with overlay logo
  • 14 - 16 April 2017

Following the success our 2016 residential programme, Global Grooves and La Timbala present a third weekend of intensive Orisha/Orixa music study. This weekend aims to expand our view of Orisha music by including a more in-depth look at ritual Orisha/Orixa music in Cuba and Brazil. This special weekend is set in the beautiful Lancashire countryside in Saddleworth, on the outskirts of the Peak District.

“I had goosebumps more than once this weekend :-)” – Percussion and Songs of the Orixas participant March 2015


Knowledge of the orishas/orixas arrived in Cuba and Brazil with the first West Africans transported from their homelands from what are now Nigeria and Benin. Over the following centuries many different local practices arrived with knowledgeable priests, musicians, dancers and herbalists from all parts of this huge area. Many of these were added in to the main body of Orisha worship in these new locations while others established strong local roots that have led to independent traditions of their own. This process has led to a huge diversity of Orisha practices that can seem confusing and daunting to musicians starting to investigate this beautiful ritual music.

This weekend aims to provide an insight into some of the connections, similarities and differences between the music of the Orishas in Cuba and Brazil. It will establish strong building blocks to aid continued study of the ritual praise rhythms that have developed independently in both countries. Each rhythm will be built in relation to clave and the function of each drum of the ensemble. The role and voice of the speaking drum in many of its different forms, rum, caja, iya, yanofo, will be explained and examples of phrases and conversations given. Songs will also be taught for each of the praise rhythms and we will spend time strengthening the familiarity and ability with singing and playing at the same time.

This intensive study residential weekend will be accessible for all players who have experience in hand or stick drumming, nurturing beginners and improvers as well as challenging even the most experienced players. The course is designed to delve deeper into Orisha/Orixa percussion and songs as well as allowing time and space to sing, play and enjoy these beautiful age-old musical traditions, together.

The residential weekend will also include an optional Carnival rhythms day that will explore the relationship between traditional ritual rhythms and songs and more modern Carnival styles. The group will have the opportunity to play Carnival arrangements, drawing influence from traditional Orixa / Orisha rhythms on Carnival parade instrumentation. A great way to celebrate the achievements over the weekend and place the knowledge into another more familiar context.

“Don’t be scared. It will challenge you positively and make you a better musician – whatever style you play.” – Percussion and songs of the Orixas participant March 2012

When: Friday 14th – Sunday 16th April 2017
17th optional carnival day

Where: The Castleshaw Centre, Waterworks Road, Delph, OL3 5LZ

Times: Registration is at 10am on Friday 14th April (Good Friday). We will be starting the first session at 11am sharp. Sessions will finish at 5pm on Sunday 16th April.

Participants attending the optional carnival day classes will commence at 8pm on Sunday 16th April finishing at 5pm on Monday 17th April (Bank Holiday)
Instruments: We will be using bells, atabaque and congas (conga, tumba, and quinto). If you have your own instrument, please let us know if you can bring it along. Upon registering we will send out more concise information.

Instrumentation for the carnival day will be provided by Global Grooves and La Timbala.

Catering: The weekend is mainly self-catering, however a main evening meal will be provided (vegetarian option included) on Friday and Saturday and optional Sunday evening. Full access to the kitchen facilities will be provided for breakfast and lunch.

Sleeping arrangements: The accommodation comprises of simple dormitory style bedrooms varying in size and several communal spaces. All bed linen and pillows will be provided but feel free to bring your own. Some dorms feature en-suite bathrooms and there are larger shared shower blocks on each floor. Some of our previous participants have also chosen to camp on site.

If you require accommodation on Thursday evening this can also be arrange at an additional cost.

For those wanting to stay outside of the residential centre we have negotiated discounts with some local Hotels. Please contact us for more information.

Places must be booked in advance for this course as limited spaces are available.

Prices are inclusive of tuition, accommodation and evening meals.


Full: £150

Concession: £100

Optional Carnival day: £55
Includes Sunday night evening meal.

Optional Thursday night accommodation: £30*
*Accommodation only no meal included.

Booking deadline: 6pm on Friday 31st March

“A really fun leaning weekend. Fantastic value for money, drawing on the tutors deep knowledge” – Percussion and Songs of the Orixas participants November 2013


The Cuban element of the weekend will draw on ritual rhythms from the traditions of batá, bembé, and arará music to construct on ‘oru’ (a cycle of praise songs and rhythms) dedicated to a number of Orishas. Familiarity with the claves of this music lies at the start of all study of all Orisha music. Only from this solid foundation can we build the elements of the fixed rhythm section that provide the framework for the speaking drum. The role of this important improvising element, the speaking drum, will then be explained and a context provided for the phrases and improvisations taught. Emphasis will be placed on the rhythmic function of the songs as well as their melodic, lyrical and ritual characters, and the social function of the music as a whole will also be discussed.

The course will be a total emersion in Orixa rhythms and songs. We will study several different traditions and styles and every member of the group will be encouraged and pushed whatever their level of experience. This is an intensive residential course with playing and tuition going on into the evenings making the most of the time we have together.

Time will be available to socialize with the study group and discuss the rhythms and songs with each other. We will eat, have fun and enjoy music together in a supportive, structured, focused and fun learning environment.

If you haven’t already, we know you will fall in love with these fascinating and beautiful rhythms and song sequences. By the end of the course the songs covered will stay with you forever, enriching the sound track of your life. This will be a very special opportunity not to be missed.

“It’s expanded my knowledge quite considerably.  Myself and two others, who were on the course, are now working on this music to ensure we build upon it.  I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do that before.” – Percussion and songs of the Orixas participant March 2016

Further information from the tutors about this course:

About singing and playing:
Singing and playing simultaneously is one of the most important areas of any percussionists’ development. This skill and ability will enable you to focus your musical mind in several different areas at the same time enabling you to detach from the physical act of playing drums and focus on the bigger picture of the whole arrangement. Whether you play Samba, Cuban percussion, Maracatu or West African djembe rhythms, this skill will be invaluable to your personal development as a player or teacher.

I can’t sing. Is this course for me?
The songs of Candomblé can easily be accessed by all. By singing together, in unison the energy of the group takes over the focus of the arrangements. As long as you can make a note, any note, then this course is suitable for you. We will teach the melody lines in bite sized chunks and work to the level and speed of the group.

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