Learn to Play > Lesson 13:
The Main Fast Off-beat

Simple is not always easy

The Main Fast Off-beat is a really simple beat, but that doesn't mean it's easy to play. This is probably the most difficult beat to get right, and one of the most critical. However, it's the foundation of a whole class of fast beats, so it is important that you learn it, and learn it you will!

How can something be really simple and not easy at the same time? The answer is all in the timing. The actual notes in this mrdanga mantra are not many (four in total). The critical timing of those notes is what makes the beat difficult to master. Also required now is good flexibility on the dayan, the small end of the drum. You really do need to be nimble with your wrist action to get these four notes properly played, because it's the notes played on the dayan that will make your timing right or wrong.

Let me restate that, because it's important. With this beat, the big end makes all the noise, of course, but it's the timing on the small end (dayan) that makes it or breaks it. What you do with your hand on the small end of the drum determines if this beat sounds right or not, because it sets the timing for what you'll be doing on the big end of the drum. That simple truth is missed by many a devotee who never manage to get it right. But you, my friend, are going to get it right and knock their socks off.

So it's complex because of the timing, but it's simple because there are only four notes to play. That can't be so terrible, can it? I mean, four notes? You hit the drum four times only – over an over again. What could be easier!!!

Now, guess what? You already had a taste of it when you played the Standard Fast Beat back in Lesson 12, so if you mastered that, you're half way there already.



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