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More West African rhythm: Nigeria

This rhythm is from Nigeria. It’s called Frekoba.

nigerian rhythm2

It’s trickier than the last one. The reason for this is the syncopation on beat 4.



Let’s isolate the last two beats and repeat them.

nigerian rhythm


The rhythm on beats 1 and 3 are the same rhythm that you saw in the last post. It’s the rhythm on beats 2 and 4 that are a challenge.

You’ll notice that two notes from each of the second and fourth beats are bracketed. Count the “2 ee and uh” and “4 ee and uh” but don’t play a note on the number (the 2 or the 4) or the “uh”.

This will take some practice. Start slow. Once it feels comfortable at a slow speed, gradually make it faster.


Guitar problem

Here’s a riff with this rhythm using A dorian. Don’t try this until you’re comfortable with the rhythm.


nigerian riff


There’s a difficulty in this riff aside from the last two beats. The good news is that there are two ways to play it. The bad news: they’re both problematic.

It’s that F# on the 9th fret of the A string. It’s a bit of a stretch. If it’s uncomfortable, you can play that note on the 4th fret of the D string. To do that smoothly, you’ll have to play the D on the 5th fret of the A string (the four 16th notes on the second beat) with your middle finger. This allows you to play the F# with your index finger on the 4th fret of the D string at beat 3.

nigerian riff2


Either way, that point in the riff presents a challenge. This is a common type of problem. It will come up again in other things you play. Learn how to do it both ways, and you’ll have a greater range of possibility in the things you can play.

Just be patient, work on it every day for about a week, and you’ll see it get better. Always start slow with new things.



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