I found the opening of this article quite difficult to write. So, I’m going to start with the basic facts, of which there are two.
- Beats Exotiques is a book for drummers. 2. It’s written by Gary Leach.
That’s the basics done and fundamentally that’s what you get but it’s impossible to write this review without considering this work on a deeper more philosophical level. So, I will try (and I apologise in advance for any failings).
According to Gary’s website Beats Exotiques is:
“A fascinating collection of over 850 rhythms found in dance music around the globe.”
What Gary has created is a book which drummers can use to help develop their hand independence through a collection of grooves drawn from different musical cultures around the world. From that perspective it’s quite brilliant. It works and it’s much more fun than practising rudiments!
The beats are all taken directly from, or inspired by, a wide range of dance music that includes Afrobeat, Soukous, Samba, Salsa, Flamenco, Egyptian and Funk. Through listening to the various grooves, you can trace the connection to their cultural journey. It’s quite fascinating.
From another perspective Beats Exotiques is a book about, what I’m going to call rhythmic geography. How rhythm has developed around the world. How it has evolved to reflect regional identity, history and the mood of the times. You might argue that a “regions rhythms” is its musical culture, and you would be right but there’s more to it than that. This book makes you consider that deeper aspect of just what rhythm is? Our most fundament form of emotional expression, of creativity, of communication. In many respects a reflection of our own history, what it means to be us.
Don’t take it from me. In the drumming world some big names have already paid homage to the book: