After a successful career as a contemporary concert/pop/and studio multi-percussionist, Robert Fernandez abandoned all other work in order to devote his studies and performance practice exclusively to Latin percussion, in particular the Afro-Cuban folkloric tradition. Bob was already a dedicated and passionate student of this music, studying regularly with the most respected player/teachers in the United States. He bagan making frequent visits to Cuba - where he has family and many musical connections – and immersing himself in the daily life, culture, religious traditions and music of all parts of the island. This book is the result of nearly twenty years of intensive study with the most highly regarded Cuban musicians, both in the U.S. and on their native soil, and few musicians are as qualified as Fernandez to present this music in book form.
There are certainly other books on this music, and much of it has been well documented for some time (although mostly in Spanish). Much of it, however, is little-known outside Cuba, and some has not, to our knowledge, ever been notated. This music is not generally learned through notation or formal training, and in fact Fernandez has studied it in the traditional manner, that of rote learning and playing alongside his teachers. But he has also succeeded in transcribing every piece - every part and variation – accurately and in detail. He employs simple and clear notation, reinforced by demonstration on CD, for the nuances and subtle playing techniques essential to the real life of this music.
An especially valuable feature of this book is Fernandez' careful comparison of regional and local styles of the same pieces, which are more often reduced to one generic "representative" version. Though meant as a practical guide for percussionists, Fernandez also provides historical background, placing this music in its unique cultural and spiritual context. Not academic or a work of musicology per se, this book will nevertheless be as relevant to scholars as it is to players.