Learn to Play > Lesson 5: The Basic Off-beat

What is an off-beat?

"Off-beats" are beats that begin or end at unexpected times different from what the karatals (hand cymbals) are doing.

Normally, a standard mrdanga beat ends on the third stroke of the karatals. Off-beats end before or after that, and therefore they are a little "off" from the karatals. The effect of an off-beat is that it ends when people are "up in the air" while dancing, and it causes devotees to dance more exuberantly. They are good for getting people to dance, and what's better, they're not that hard to learn.

Remember that earlier we explained that there are three general categories of mrdanga beats known as slow, medium and fast (see illustration)?

In this course we will teach you a standard and an off-beat for each speed and then throw in a few extra ones for laughs. By the time you're done, you'll be able to lead a good kirtan no matter what the speed, with a variety of standard, Bengali-style beats, and everyone will compliment you how well you play.

In this Lesson 5 we will teach you your very first off-beat, called The Basic Off-beat. This is a simple to learn, no hassle beat that is very easy to play, and which is pleasant to listen to.



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