Tribal Basics, Volume 3: Zils

by Carolena Nericcio

A Video Review By Shira

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Overall Rating: StarStarStarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

Carolena Nericcio, director of FatChanceBellyDance, teaches an introduction to finger cymbals and how to play them.


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What Users Think

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The Chart

Recommended Level Any level dancer
No prior finger cymbal experience
Formats Available NTSC on DVD (VHS tape in NTSC and PAL available by special order with longer lead times)
Overall Rating StarStarStarStar
Production Quality StarStarStarStar
Content Value StarStarStarStar
Packaging StarStarStar
Total Video Length 22:36 minutes
Performance Time 0:00 minutes (0%)
Teaching Time 17:55 minutes (79%)
Amount Of "Other" 4:41 minutes (21%)
Choreography No
Cultural Information No
Music Education Yes
Health Issues No
Number Of Models 1
List Price $20.00
Cost Per Minute Of Teaching & Performing Time $1.12
Cost For "Other" $4.14

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Carolena Nericcio offers a basic introduction to playing finger cymbals. Although she focuses on how finger cymbals fit into her American Tribal Style dance format, her techniques are equally valid for any style of belly dance. Her level of instruction is geared to people who already know a little about dancing but have never previously had any instruction in finger cymbals.

Carolena begins by making the point that different types of metals and sizes create different sounds in finger cymbals. She taps a few different cymbals together to illustrate the point. Then she shows how to wear them.

In the next section, Carolena introduces basic vocabulary used in music theory with respect to rhythms. She offers definitions for beat, measure, counting, tempo, and accent. Each definition appears in text on the screen as she discusses it. For people who have had prior musical training, this will be review. For those who have not, her explanation is an excellent introduction to the fundamentals.

Carolena then moves on to talk about different sounds that the cymbals can produce. She demonstrates the ring, the tap (muted), and the clap, and explains how to produce each. She chooses helpful words to explain, but this is one place where the camera work had room for improvement. It wasn't as easy as I might have wished to see precisely how her hands were positioned, and for the ring I really didn't hear the reverberation on my television.

The patterns section teaches a few different rhythms to play on the cymbals. The way Carolena presents this is excellent. First the camera shows a diagram which explains the basic elements of the rhythm, including which hand (right or left) to use. For each rhythm, it offers a couple of options: a simplified version for novices, and then the full version. Carolena first plays the simplified version at a slow speed, then she plays the more complex version at full speed. This allows a beginner at finger cymbals to master an easier version first and gain some confidence before tackling the more challenging one. A few brief performance and classroom clips are used to illustrate some of Carolena's points.

The video closes with some final comments about how to embellish the rhythms, which includes a demonstration of Carolena layering her own embellishment over a drum beat. She ends with some ideas on how to add movement while playing.

There is no real performance segment on this video, just a few brief clips to illustrate points in the instruction.

Throughout the video, Carolena wears an elaborate choli and spikey Berber bracelets which give me "that Tribal feeling" and make the video more fun to watch. The background is attractively draped ethnic fabric. Most of the time, as she explains how to play something on the cymbals, the camera looks over her shoulder so viewers can easily align their own hands with hers.

Everything taught on this video is well explained and well illustrated. I just wish there was more than 18 minutes of it. In particular, I would have liked to see Carolena devote more time to the ideas she offers at the very end on how to put together the finger cymbals with movement. Two minutes simply isn't enough for this important topic.

Generally speaking, the production quality is well done. The set is well lit, the camera angles show me what I want to see, and it's very easy to hear Carolena's explanations. It would have been nice to have text titles introducing the sections to make it easier to fast-forward or rewind to repeat something, but the on-screen graphics illustrating the rhythms help somewhat with navigation.

You Will Probably Like This Video If

  • You have never played finger cymbals before.
  • You don't know anything about musical terms such as measures and counting, and would like a well-explained introduction.

You Probably Won't Care for This Video If

  • You have had previous instruction in finger cymbals and already know the basics.
  • You're only interested in Egyptian style belly dance.

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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked

  • Carolena defines musical building blocks such as beat, measure, etc.
  • The camera shoots over Carolena's shoulder at helpful times.
  • Carolena offers excellent, clear explanations.
  • The on-screen diagrams help illustrate rhythms.
  • For each pattern, first Carolena shows a simplified slow version, then the full-speed version.
  • The video makes appropriate use of close-ups.
  • The credits identify music used.
  • Carolena's clothing, jewelry, and set create pleasant American Tribal Style mood.

What I Didn't Like

  • There are only 18 minutes of instruction.

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Movements Included

  • Finger Cymbals: 4 Rhythms (Threes, 3-3-7, Baladi, Moroccan 6/8)

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Reviews of Other Videos by this Artist/Instructor

If you'd like to read my reviews of other videos by Carolena Nericcio of FatChanceBellyDance, choose from the list below:

The following are opinion polls only for other videos by Carolena:

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In Conclusion

If you've never played finger cymbals before, this video offers an excellent introduction to such basic concepts as differing ways to strike them, how to count music, and how to play some basic rhythms. Everything it includes is well organized and clearly explained. However, its 18-minute length is somewhat disappointing and it doesn't offer much detail on how to move and play cymbals at the same time.

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I have had some professional dealings with Carolena, but we have never had the opportunity to truly get acquainted. I respect her highly for her innovation in creating the American Tribal Style variation of belly dancing and her astute marketing skills which fostered the phenomenal popularity of this style. She sent me a complimentary copy of this video to review.

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Contacting The Producer & Ordering The Video

Contact Carolena as follows:

P.O. Box 460594
San Francisco, CA 94146

Phone (+1) (415) 431-4322

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