The Troupe
This drummer's journey with other drummers.

The Quest for Soot

Soot is fun, but it is also a bit of a quest.

Many of you have already checked out “Searching for Chobi“, which touches on how interesting, difficult, and frustrating hunting down rhythms and their origins can be.

Soot is very, very much that way.

I first heard Soot on an album more than a decade ago, when I was first beginning, and I simply thought it sounded cool. I had no idea as to why it did, only that it did.

Soot is, at its root, an amazing lesson on variation and syncopation, but there is virtually nothing at all concrete or even documented about it. A fair number of instructors, videos, and albums contain Soot, but there is virtually no consensus about where it comes from, how long it has been played, or anything of that nature.

Knowing what I know about rhythm, and practice, and drummers, I have some theories, but there is of course no way to verify or prove the truth of those theories.

But, having explained all that, here we go…

I think that Soot started as a mistake. Either as a miscounted measure, or a misheard rhythm hook

And, because drummers are inherently a bit crazy, or lazy, that mistake was basically pounced on, and no one looked back. And, of course, no one wrote it down!

I would guess that the mistake happened in the Persian Gulf, probably on the Western edge, in what is modern day Kuwait or Qatar. I think that, because Soot is basically a Malfuf, started in the wrong spot.

Malfuf, as you can see on the Malfuf and Kahleegi page, is basically a 3-3-2. That is, the beats within it can be counted as 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2- very easily, which is indeed how many, many traditions do count it. For lack of a better term, let’s call that Pulse Counting.

 

Malfuf (4/4)
Basic (Doom and Tek)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

T

T

 

Malfuf (4/4)
Pulse Count (Doom and Tek)

1

2

3

1

2

3

1

2

D

T

T

Soot, on the other hand, structures its pulses in a 3-2-3 pattern. It essentially “starts” on the second pulse of Malfuf. Well, and adds a few Teks, and takes a funky rest in the middle.

 

Soot (4/4)
Basic (Doom and Tek)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

T

D

T

Tricky!

Really alien and exotic to any “Western” drummer, used to a constant stream of 3-3-2 in pop/rock music, or 2-2-2-2 in “dance” music.

Here it is in Pulse Count.

 

Soot (4/4)
Pulse Count (Doom and Tek)

1

2

3

1

2

1

2

3

D

T

D

T

Now, it was likely a mistake. All of the really good stuff tends to be a mistake that someone was able to remember, and then do again deliberately, and then improve on.

I like to use Soot in class to challenge students, and see who is actually counting, as opposed to faking it, or playing by rote. Playing three Malfufs, followed by one Soot, and then repeat, is surprisingly challenging at first.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Rhythm Page without some variations.

 

Soot (4/4)
Variation (Doom and Tek)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

T

D

T

Let’s put a little bounce into it, shall we.

Focus on keeping your tempo steady, because this is a bit like the Ayoub, in that it is fun, and you will likely speed up at first.

 

Soot (4/4)
Variation (Doom and Tek)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

T

T

T

T

Welcome to the Land of the Drum Solo!

Add this variation after three Kahleegi, and things get fun.

 

Soot (4/4)
Variation (Doom and Tek)

1

&

2

&

3

&

4

&

D

D

D

T

Simply fiendish.

You can hear my evil laugh in the background. MwahahahahaHA!

Enjoy!

 

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