Summer Retreat with Raquy Danziger

This summer I spent an entire month studying doumbek with Raquy Danziger, it was very a transformative experience. Raquy used to live in New York, but now lives in Istanbul where she can study split hand technique, and then she comes back to NY several times a year to teach. Study at the retreat focuses on learning Raquy’s compositions, but we also work on technique, clarity, timing, and speed.

Raquy structures the retreat around her normal study practices, starting each day with meditation in the morning, having group classes to work on a piece or technique a couple times a day, vegetarian meals throughout the day, and yoga in the evening. In between times are used for personal practice or practice with other students to work on sections of the compositions. During the evenings there are usually jams, or additional study, but there is also time to take a break go on a nature walk, enjoy the fireflies, play badmitten or ping pong, and enjoy the experience.

Those of us there for the month all learned two pieces, “Shame on You” by Raquy and “Drum Line” by Leron Peled. Both pieces have their own challenges and are quite intricate. The pieces really push you to learn new techniques and polish your playing style, as you want to really learn the pieces well and perform them each weekend. We also learned backing drums for “Dance of the Witches” which is a track on Raquy’s forthcoming album, and a piece played by an amazing Oud player named Hiagg Minutian (sp?). And we had jams throughout the month with amazing musicians like Carmine Guida, and we also had an great workshop with Glenn Velez who is incredible on the frame drum and other percussion. I can’t really speak highly enough about this event, it was very worth while if you are serious about doumbek and interested in split hand technique at any level.

Belly Dance Performance

Alright, it’s time to get a little more serious about the blogging…

I want to talk about my music a bit.  For the last several years I have been building skill as a hand drummer, studying doumbec and working on the art of drumming for belly dancers.  This all started as a fun hobby in the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA), but it has grown into a genuine interest in the music and art of drumming for dancers.  I have now studied with some great instructors, including Souhail Kaspar and Raquy Danziger, and they have both influenced my style, but I have also worked with many instructional DVDs and CDs and played with drummers across the United States who have also influenced my playing and beats.

What started as a drum circle hobby over the past couple of years has grown in the direction of playing with small ensembles, and over the past year I have also started studying a lot of electronic music.  At the beginning of 2011 I connected with Seraphim Rose, who is a great guitar player, dancer and hand drummer.  We have been working since to create music together and conquer the challenges involved with that, learn more and grow as musicians while exploring our creative interests.  As a means to connect more as artists, both with each other and with other musicians we have both begun studying music in earnest, theory, piano, and production – giving us a solid foundation as artists to work from; as well as continuing to build skill on our respective instruments in our Tucson home and studio.

We settled in Tucson, Arizona in November 2011 and rented a house with the intent of building our music contacts and have the practice space and studio setup so that we can write music and start performing seriously.  About a month ago we connected with Patrick the Butcher who is a drummer and guitar player who we have known for several years, but who also recently moved to Tucson.  Patrick plays Djembe with a style which is a fusion of both African and Middle Eastern drumming, and also plays rhythm guitar and signs a lot of folk songs.  With Patrick we have an excellent connection which fits well with my our drumming, and also with Seraphim’s guitar playing.  Patrick’s chord progressions give an excellent foundation for Sarah to write music from, and he and I play a solid rhythm together which gives our music an solid beat for belly dance.  We immediately started writing music together under the guise of “The permanently floating riot club” and booked our first performance with the ladies of Troop Hypnotic, the connection of us all can only be described as serendipitous.  Our initial performance together (Feb 11th, 2012) went over with great success, it was a beautiful day, the music was outstanding, and the ladies danced stupendously – we performed two original songs, a couple of drum jams, and some solos.  It was well received, and can best be described as the beginnings of greatness.  Everyone was extremely excited by how quickly everything came together and how great it felt, we’re all excited to write more music, build more performances, and book additional gigs.

Video from the performance should be available soon.

Introducing CaristheGypsy.com

Welcome to my blogging site, this is the place to come to find out what is happening in my life.  Whether you are interested in learning about my travels, alternative lifestyles, music, jewelry, or just random rants as I have adventures and learn more about life, this is the place to do it.  Eventually this site will likely replace my facebook page, link to my other websites, (like my Chainmail Jewelry Site) and have lots of great information about my music as I develop my sound, and write and publish some songs.  But for now things are just getting setup….