About the Choro Accompaniment Series
By Andrew Lawrence
The Choro Accompaniment Series springs largely from my own experience as a student of choro accompaniment on cavaquinho. Every CAS “bundle” consists of the materials I wish I'd had as a novice and would love to have even now as a somewhat more advanced student.
When you order a CAS bundle, you'll get an e-mail with a link to a downloadable zip file containing video and audio files as well as a pdf. There's some slight variation in what each bundle consists, but here's an overview of what you can expect.
Intro videos are only included in Level 1 bundles, which are oriented toward relative novices. In these very short videos the artist introduces the most basic techniques you'll see them using in the accompanying demo video. These intros are either in spoken English or with English subtitles provided.
One can – and usually does – stay a “novice” at choro for many years. There's no rush and no reason to move beyond Level 1 so long as it is offering you a challenge, even if that “phase” lasts forever. What we call Level 1 accompaniment is perfectly adequate in a roda.
Every bundle includes a close-up video of an expert accompanist playing through a tune, with their part clearly audible as well as visible. A visual indicator shows which section of the tune (usually A, B or C) the artist is playing.
A video of this sort is the single most useful resource I have come across as a student. Go over that video as many times as you wish, at whatever speed, focusing on whatever section you choose. Be sure to use a player that allows you to adjust the playback speed freely.
Every CAS bundle includes at least three audio tracks. We include audio rather than using video-only for three reasons:
- For the purposes described below, the visual element is unimportant.
- Audio takes up a lot less storage space.
- Audio performs better than video at various playback speeds.
(1) An Audio Track with All Parts
This audio track includes all accompanists and the melody in a “normal” audio mix.
This track gives you the big picture. You can hear clearly how everything fits together, with the melody clearly audible and the accompanists well-balanced with one another.
(2) An Audio Track Minus One Accompanist
On this audio track, the featured instrument (guitar, cavaquinho or pandeiro) has been removed from the mix.
Use the video – and, if you find it useful, the pdf – to learn the accompaniment. When you are ready, use this audio track to practice actually providing accompaniment yourself with both the other accompanists and melody in the mix. Start slow and practice working up to speed.
(3) An Audio Track Without the Melody
This is the more common sort of backing track in which you hear the full accompaniment to the tune, without the melody.
In case you also want to play the melody on this tune – on whatever instrument – here's a play-along track for that purpose.
Finally, each bundle includes a pdf with the chord progression and baixarias (bass lines) played by the guitarist.
Owing to copyright restrictions, our written materials do not include the melody. Most of the tunes, however, are included in songbooks we have here in the Choro Shop.