The Beguine Rhythm

What is a Beguine?

Basically a beguine is a popular ballroom dance. But, as with other dances, it’s roots have a rhythmic foundation. Most know the word, “Beguine” through Cole Porter’s popular big band song, “Begin the Beguine”. As drummers, we should know how to approach a beguine rhythm in case we’re called to play one.

be·guine (bï-gen’)

Like a Rumba

Cole Porter was said to have written “Begin the Beguine” after a layover on the island of Martinique (near St. Lucia) during a world cruise in the 1930’s. He was influenced by the beguine rhythm and it’s dance. It was similar to a rumba but yet subtlely different enough that it could retain its originality. Here’s a version of another beguine song, “Beguine for Band”. Notice the emphasis on quarter note beats, “1, 3 and 4” by the tuba. And the sand blocks are playing what would normally be played on snare (or HH) and toms when playing on the drumset.

See Our Drum Booksbeguine drum pattern

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