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Rhythmic Elements of the World | Summer 2022

More Info

Course Information

Vasilis Sarikis

World Rhythms - One day

Ready to tick off a bucket list item? Tickets for Rhythmic Elements of the World are now available! This workshop makes you understand every essential concept & device of rhythm you've ever heard in international music. Percussion instruments will be provided, but feel free to bring your own if you want.

When: Mon 4th - Fri 8th July, 18:30-20:30 BST

Where: RB01 at SOAS

Delivery: in-person 

Level: intermediate/experienced players of any instrument


In this workshop, we explore rhythm as a compositional tool inspired by world music styles: timeline, layering, polyrhythms, cross rhythms, moving bass, and more. Improve your sense of rhythm and structure, apply the patterns in your own instrument, or use these ideas as a tool in composition and teaching. 

Some examples of what we will be covering:

🌍 rhythmic compositions, shapes and phrases in South Indian music

🌏 long rhythmic cycles from Ottoman music

🌎 multi-layered grooves from Brazil & Morocco

🌏 how to play Sandansko Horo in 22/8 


Course Code

Rhythm Summer 22

Course Leader

Vasilis Sarikis
Course Description


We will learn a new piece each day.

DAY/PIECE 1 : Sikyi Dance – Ghana

A funky groove that highlights the ‘interdependence’ or ‘rhythmic fabric’ in West African music. With some tweaking, it also works for Highlife/ Fela Kuti.


DAY/PIECE 2: Konnakol – South India

Konnakol provides a solid grasp of pulse, meter, extraordinary subdivisions which lead to a better idea about rhythmic shapes, composing and understanding rhythms you hear in concerts or rehearsals. Its ending phrase creates tension released on a downbeat. We look at one Konnakol composition and two melodic applications of that composition: C major and D hijaz. Reciting konnakol compositions can do wonders for your memory and, according to the course leader, it is the single best way to improve rhythm. 


DAY/PIECE 3: Sandansko Horo – Bulgaria

Bulgarian folk music features funky time signatures that seem more suitable for prog-rock, yet people regularly folk dance to its standard 4/4 or the typical groove 6/8. We also find 7, 9, 11 and compounds of 7 or 9 with cadences that create longer cycles. Sandansko Horo’s 9+9+4 structure produces some beautifully groovy results.


DAY/PIECE 4: Asa Branca (Luis Gonzaga) – Brazil

Brazil shows how African rhythmic concepts developed into a highly syncopated, varied global rhythmic culture. Samba and Bossa Nova are great but there is more. Baiao, for instance, is a musical style demonstrating African influence with European instrumentation. A lot of fun to play, it features the most common rhythmic cell in world music – the dotted 8th note/16 note figure, found everywhere from Charleston to modern Egyptian pop music.


DAY/PIECE 5: Ferahfeza Firengfer, in 28/4 – Ottoman Emmpire

A rare song from the multi-cultural Ottoman court music that features a long cycle of 28 beats. There are examples of upto 120 beats (compounds of several rhythmic cycles or usuller). A distinct benefit of learning a cycle like the 28/4 firengfer is improved memory. Although this is a hands-on module, it benefits your understanding of what you actually listen to. A list of repertoire has been compiled from each region for you to look at.


Meet your teacher

Vasilis Sarikis is a Greek multi-percussionist who specializes in Eastern Mediterranean and Balkan percussion and has extensively studied the drum set, jazz, music from Brazil & South India. His music has been featured on multiple places, Disney’s Aladdin and BBC’s TV programme In Tune to name a few.

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World Rhythms - One day