INTERVIEW

Arranging Part 1

Featuring: Willie Colón
Time: 1:45 minutes
Excerpt:"When I started writing arrangements for the band, the first thing I would start with was the bassline, and then the rhythm, and then I'd write the rest of the chart."
full transcript

     I learned music basically from the rhythm section up, even when I was a little kid in the bedroom, when they would tell to go to bed and to sleep, and I'm lying there, I'd here the bass and the drums coming through the floor, the neighbors, and I would only hear the rhythm section; I couldn't hear what song was playing.  But I would hear the bass -- boom, boom, boom.  And I'd just keep -- it'd be coming through the walls into the floor.

     So it's funny, because when I started writing arrangements for the band, the first thing I would start with was the bassline, and then the rhythm, and then I'd write the rest of the chart.  So I guess that's part of it; it's just the way I learned it, and -- I used to write a bassline which was almost like a triplet, it's just, [dotted quarter], dotted quarter, quarter -- boom, boom boom boom -- and that fits everywhere, that fits everywhere.  I put that in to Che Kole, I put that in -- whatever, it fits.  It just accents the four, and it fits everywhere. 

     So that was another thing that made my music more universal and more palatable to people that weren't like Cubanophiles, or the really hardcore dance people.  The people that were more campesino, they were able to understand that kind of very simple bassline and these rhythms.