About the project

Documentation and analysis of candombe drumming

This project has two goals: first, to document candombe drumming through high-quality audio and video recordings featuring reference players; and second, to conduct a detailed analysis of the rhythmic, technical, and musical aspects of candombe drumming. Through this work, we hope to contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of candombe culture.

The project is led by an interdisciplinary team. Luis Jure, a composer with expertise in music theory, has been documenting and analyzing candombe drumming since the 1990s. Martín Rocamora, an electrical engineer, specializes in signal processing and machine learning for computational music analysis.

We have adopted an intermediate approach that combines elements of ethnomusicology, systematic musicology, and empirical musicology. This approach is based on music theory, ethnomusicology, and computational musicology. In this research, new tools were developed and existing tools were optimized to extract meaningful musical information directly from audio and, in some cases, video recordings. We used traditional digital signal processing and music information retrieval techniques, as well as innovative machine learning techniques, for automatic analysis and data extraction and visualization in computer-aided analysis.

The results of our research have been presented at several international conferences, such as AAWM, AES–LAC, CICTeM, CIM, FMA, ICTM, ISMIR, RPPW, SMT, and SoMoS. Our list of publications now includes journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers that focus on the analysis of technical and rhythmic aspects of candombe drumming. These publications cover topics such as automatic beat and downbeat tracking, rhythmic pattern analysis and classification, microtiming analysis, improvisation techniques, and the study of synchronization and interpersonal interaction.

We have also collaborated with researchers from different countries who are working on related topics, and we have participated in several international projects.

The creation of audio and video recordings of candombe performances is another crucial aspect of this project, as the quality and quantity of data is critical to the type of analysis that will be conducted. In addition, these recordings have an inherent importance in documenting and preserving a culturally valuable tradition.

We have been documenting candombe drumming for over 30 years, and our collection continues to grow. In addition to several field recordings of large groups, we currently have over 70 complete performances from 15 studio sessions, totaling over seven hours of audio. The groups range in size from three to nine drums, with over 60 players representing different generations and neighborhood styles. Each performance is captured in both multitrack (one drum per track) and stereo audio, as well as video. Detailed information such as session date, location, performers, and equipment used is available for each recording, along with annotations of the metrical structure and timing onsets for each track. Some parts of the collection have been released as datasets for research purposes.