Drum Talk: Rhythms from Cuba and Brazil

Course Dates: June 30 to July 13, 2014
Application Deadline: May 2, 2014
THE DEADLINE FOR THIS COURSE HAS BEEN EXTENDED. Please contact the Course Coordinator for more information.

  • Learn from and play with master artists: Grammy Award-nominated percussionist and bandleader John Santos, and Mario Pam, musical director of the famous percussion group Ilê Aiyê, direct from Salvador, Brazil.
  • Join the “reunion” and conversation between the African-derived music traditions of Cuba and Brazil, and explore various traditional Cuban and Brazilian genres as well as fusions of these distinct but related rhythms.
  • Learn and perform a range of music styles from Cuba and Brazil, including sacred rhythms of Candomblé and Santería, samba, baião, maracatú, bembé, rumba, comparsa, and more.
  • Develop familiarity with a variety of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian percussion instruments and understand the role of each instrument within the music as a whole.
  • Understand the socio-historical contexts in which the rhythms were born, the current environments that sustain them, and the intimate connections between these two great traditions.
  • This course will culminate in a public performance by the participants.

Undergraduate: MUSIC 422, 3 units
Graduate: MUSIC 622, 3 units


The focus of the instruction in this course is on percussion. All students will learn techniques, rhythms and context for a variety of percussion instruments as well as key concepts in Cuban and Brazilian music. The instructors will also share their experience and vision of how and where the great traditions of Brazil and Cuba intersect. Students should have at least a basic level of proficiency in rhythm and/or percussion. Accomplished musicians with expertise on other instruments will also benefit and are welcome to apply. Performance experience in Cuban, Brazilian, or other Latin or African music styles is a plus, but not necessary.

1)      Submit a 250-750 word statement describing your musical experience, background, training, skill level, and why you are interested in the course. OPTIONAL: You may also share a work sample by providing a URL where your work can be seen.
2)      Send the materials listed in step one with your completed Registration Form to the Summer Arts office by May 2, 2014.

Professor Umi Vaughan


John Santos www.johnsantos.com
U.S. Fontanals Fellow and San Francisco Latino Heritage Arts Awardee John Santos is Resident Artistic Director of the San Francisco Jazz Festival and a five-time Grammy Award-nominated producer and percussionist. He is one of the foremost proponents of Afro-Latin music in the world today. He is a founder of San Francisco’s yearly Carnaval (started in 1978) and has performed and recorded with numerous giants of Afro-Latin music and jazz such as Carlos Santana, Tito Puente, Dizzy Gillespie, Cachao, Max Roach, Eddie Palmieri, Armando Peraza, McCoy Tyner, Omar Sosa, Bobby Hutcherson, Giovanni Hidalgo, Joe Henderson, Regina Carter, Orestes Vilató, Miguel Zenon, and Andy and Jerry Gonzalez. He is known for his innovative use of traditional forms and instruments in combination with contemporary music, and has earned much respect and recognition as an educator, composer, bandleader, and record and event producer. He has conducted countless workshops, lectures and clinics in the United States, Latin America, and Europe since 1973.

Mario Pam of Ilê Aiyê – www.ileaiye.org.br
Mario Pam is from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, and began his musical career in 1991 as a founding member of Ilê Aiyê’s youth percussion ensemble. In 2000, he became one of the Percussion Directors of the adult group. Since then he has been creating innovative repertory and directing 150 percussionists for the annual Carnival celebration in Salvador. Mario founded and currently directs an international samba group called Tambores do Mundo (Drums of the World). He has participated as a featured performer and instructor at events in Brazil, Europe, Africa, and the United States.

Ilê Aiyê was founded in 1974, and was among the first “bloco afro” or black samba organizations in Salvador, Brazil to pioneer the genres called samba afro and samba reggae. This distinctive style fuses samba with sacred Afro-Brazilian rhythms like Ijexá, as well as music styles from throughout the Americas and Africa such as merengue, hip-hop, and soukous.