Rhythm Ensemble 1

Display Schedule

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
174RA1 Z 4 24 exercise hours (45 min) of instruction per semester, 82 to 102 hours of self-study English, Czech winter

Subject guarantor

Jaromír HONZÁK

Name of lecturer(s)


Learning outcomes of the course unit

The student has a basic insight into the principles of music perception and rhythm of West African music. Is able to transcribe the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic components of submitted recordings on their own. Is open to experimentation. Is able to work responsibly and without prejudice with unusual forms of notation. Is innovative in finding optimal solutions in the interpretation of compositions.

Mode of study


Prerequisites and co-requisites

Quizzes: instrument playing 1, ensemble playing 1, jazz instrument improvisation 1, jazz theory 1, ear training 1

Course contents

Learning objectives:

Rhythm Ensemble 1 is a course common to all undergraduate years that focuses on the teaching of rhythms, primarily using principles based on traditional West African music. Indeed, it is from this music that the basic rhythmic material originated, which eventually made its way in various forms to both North and South America as part of the slave trade, and its subsequent development gave rise to various other genres that are now a necessary part of the jazz musician's expressive vocabulary.

In the course of their studies, students seek to identify with various musical styles that are rooted in the oral tradition and where the bar line, like the first period, may not play an important role, if it exists at all. During the course of their studies, they will all play a variety of traditional percussion instruments and learn to perceive irregular rhythmic patterning (called clave) into which they must then fit their own improvisational language. These rhythmic skills require several years of effort that can be further developed throughout life. The teaching of this course emphasizes musical practice, as it builds on musical traditions with a minimum of theory and theoretical material. Students learn most music by ear and are encouraged to be able to transcribe the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic components of the recordings presented on their own.

Thematic areas:

General characteristics of West African music

a) The CLAVE (Timeline) principle - introduction to the basic rhythmic phrase for the genre and its application within a musical ensemble

b) Rhythmic independence of the body - working on the ability to perform several rhythmic layers at once, through singing, clapping and movement

c) swing - bending the smallest rhythmic values to create the right feel for a given genre, being able to phrase in a given swing

d) spacing - placing musical phrases in open spaces, being able to start a phrase at different points in a measure, etc.

Recommended or required reading

Recommended reading:

COLEMAN, Steve. Resistance Is Futile: Law of Balance [audio recording on CD]. France: Label Bleu, 2006.

HAMMOND, Doug. A Real Deal: Singing Smiles / Miss Cat / Perspicuity [sound recording on CD]. Paris: Heavenly Sweetness, 2007.

HANCOCK, Herbie. Possibilities: Sister Moon [sound recording on CD]. New York: Vector/Hear Music, 2005.

HOLLAND, Dave. Prime Directive: Looking Up [sound recording on CD]. Munich: ECM Records, 2000.

LOUEKE, Lionel. Gilfema: Tin Min [sound recording on CD]. New York: ObliqueSound, 2005.

Assessment methods and criteria

The student will produce a transcription of the given recording. Next, he/she must sing a particular song and at the same time play a clave as an accompaniment.

Active participation in the exercises

Other requirements: attendance of at least 70%



Schedule for winter semester 2022/2023:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

Schedule for summer semester 2022/2023:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans