John McLaughlin – The Gateway to Rhythm
Dec 13 2016
Konokol is the universal system of mastering rhythm without drums. Guitar legend John McLaughlin, who has advocated this system of learning rhythm for over 30 years, brings it all together with Konokol master Selvaganesh Vinayakram, one of the foremost percussionists from India. Divided into six chapters, the student moves from basic understanding of rhythm into the wonderful world of improvisation.
Exercises are explained and demonstrated followed by improvisations which include all the exercise material of that particular chapter. You will learn through this course how to improvise rhythmically and how this system can help in your compositions. Following this, John McLaughlin explains and demonstrates on the guitar the benefit Konokol has had on his improvisations, and its usefulness in his compositions over the past 30 years.
This is a very clear, well-thought-out video course on konokol: a traditional Indian system of singing a rhythm, sometimes a very complicated rhythm, against the “metronome” of your own clapping. Konokol allows the musician to superimpose one tempo and time signature (in the singing) against another (in the clapping), and hear the two together. You can also use it to sing drum solos – if your tongue is as fast as Selva’s is in this DVD!
Unlike a lot of instructional DVDs, this really is a TEACHING video. The six lessons lead you progressively from the simplest concepts to complete tongue twisters, subdivisions of 5, 6, and 7, and odd time signatures. All the exercises and vocal “solos” appear in Western notation on screen as they are sung, so if you read music you have an additional teaching aid.
As a bonus, John McLaughlin gives a few brief examples of Mahavishnu Orchestra riffs that grew out of Konokol patterns. The camera is mostly on his left hand on the neck; I don’t know if this will be frustrating to guitarists. In any case, this really isn’t a guitar video. McLaughlin is more the MC, introducing Selva’s performances of the exercises and solos.
In a world overflowing with guitar constructionals and hot licks videos, here comes an educational DVD from The Master – the way it is supposed to be. This DVD deals with the South Indian(Carnatic) system of recitation called ‘konokol’. In John’s words, it is the simplest and most effective method of mastering rhythm in the world. Konokol requires absolutely no playing ability as it is all about counting, division and mathematics- the building blocks of rhythm. the DVD starts from square one, teaching syllables and the basic language and moving on to more challenging aspects like odd time signatures – John’s pet love for many years. As with John’s previous educational DVD ‘This Is The Way I Do It’, there is a continuous scroll of notation moving along the bottom of the screen, which greatly enhances the impact of the lessons. The DVD contains six chapters, each chapter ending with a demonstration of the material by Selvaganesh Vinayakram (who plays south indian percussion along side John in Remember Shakti) followed by John’s demo of the application of konokol on the guitar. Watch out for the Finale in Chapter 6, where they get together to create a beautiful guitar-konokol conversation.
Learning this system helps build a bridge between percussionists and melodic instrumentalists. An ensemble or a band conversant with konolol can articulate musical ideas very precisely to each other. Someone who has been in a band will immediately appreciate how difficult it is to get the bloody drummer to play what you want him(her) to! It is not an exaggeration to say Shakti would not have been what it is hadn’t it been for konokol. The level of the music they came up with in a very short span of time would not have been possible without konokol.
Finally, please remember this is not only for drummers and percussionists. This is not only for students who play indian instruments, or wish to learn indian music on their western instruments. This truly is for everybody. Infact, it will be of value even if you do not play any instrument and want to become a knowledgable audience of Indian Classical Music. That John McLaughlin went ahead and made this DVD reveals how strongly he feels about it, and how important he thinks konokol is to save the world!
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
Running time: 82 mins
Video: MPEG2 PAL 16:9 (720×576) VBR
Audio: AC3, 2/0ch, 192Kbps
Booklet: Yes (PDF)
Size: 3.6 Gb