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Polyrhythms, Subdivisions and Electronic Interactive Tools: A Workshop with Sergio Krakowski

Friday, March 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

School of Jazz Performance Space, Room I531, Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011

"Taking that most common of Brazilian instruments, the Pandeiro, he has transformed it into an astonishing rhythmic force. There are musicians who, in their time, don't just play the music of their day but innovate, creating new sounds and ideas. Sergio Krakowski is in that category." (Joe Nocera - NY Times)

Sergio Krakowski has dedicated his life to the study of rhythm using the Pandeiro, the Brazilian Tambourine. This instrument, considered a complete “hand drum kit”, is the symbol of Brazilian music and culture. In twenty years of solid international musical career, having shared the stage with artists such as Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Anat Cohen, Cyro Baptista, David Binney, Dan Weiss, Miles Okazaki, and Tigran Hamasyan, Sergio has developed a self-taught technique on the instrument that he has shared in workshops throughout Europe, Latin America and the US. 

The approach to rhythm acquired through the study of the Pandeiro can be of great utility and interest to not only percussionists, but also to other instrumentalists and vocalists. By adapting his classes to include jazz students, Sergio addresses many musical aspects such as rhythmic precision, micro-timing, ensemble synchronicity, and concentration through simple clap/singing exercises that open a world of possibilities to creative musicians. This technique has been successfully applied during several masterclasses given at renowned international music schools such as The Newpark Music Center in Dublin and The Rotterdam Conservatory. 

In addition to his musical and pedagogical career, Sergio is a also a mathematician who holds a PhD in Computer Music. He has created interactive software which allows percussion instruments to trigger videos, control effects, and interact with the machine, creating real time dialogues between percussionist and computer. This research has been developed into an electronic solo project named “Talking Drums“ that has been presented in a myriad of stages such as The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, and The Stone NYC.

The workshop is divided in three parts: 

Talking Drums:
A short 30-minute version of the “Talking Drums” solo piece. 

Pandeiro-based approach to rhythm:
- Subdivision, the backbone of rhythm.
In this section we discuss the importance of understanding the subdivisions of the pulse and how the Pandeiro can helps us in that task. Using that knowledge we address issues related to rhythmic precision. 

Polyrhythms, the superstructures.
The study of subdivision naturally unfolds into practical exercises that allow us to deal with polyrhythmic and polymetric structures, broadening the improvisational and compositional skills of the students. 

Projections, the rhythmic colors. Using the knowledge of “translating” the same rhythmic phrase into different subdivisions, we obtain different flavors to the same rhythmic information, paving the way to the concept of rhythmic harmony. 

Metamorphosis, the power of transformation.
The idea of slowly transforming a rhythm into another can be found in a wide range of music styles, from traditional Batá ceremonies to minimalistic XX-century music. Here we present a consistent and simple method to create this effect using the concept of Projection as introduced in the above section. 

The use of electronics
- Loop, tool or prison?
The use of loops can be very powerful but also very limiting in an improvisational situation. We will address to the pros and cons of this tool. 

Computer Music Softwares, an overview.
In this section we present a short overview of the Pure Data software by analyzing the opening “Talking Drums” piece, which makes use of this system. 

Interactive Tools, the next step.
Finally we show new interactive tools developed by Sergio Krakowski in his PhD in Computer Music using Pure Data to create an original musical discourse. The students are invited to try those tools on stage.

Event Type

Lectures and Panel Discussions, Workshops and Training


General Public


Performing Arts


Mannes School of Music, School of Jazz


Music, Jazz



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