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Paul French; delivers an amazing Instrumental album, featuring Musical Themes from Biblical Times! Paul's
talents as a percussionist, blended with beautiful piano arrangements by, Christopher W. French, has made this
album a true classic. The great variety of hand drums and percussion instruments are very unique in their
sounds, as they bring to life the Old and New Testament Stories from the Bible. You don't have to be a
percussion fan to appreciate this album, "Journey To Bethlehem" speaks for itself, as one of the most exciting
instrumental albums you will ever hear!
Here below, are just a few of the percussion instruments used in our "Journey To Bethlehem"
instrumental album. As you listen, you may recognize these instruments being played.
Pronounced (Jem-bay), also known as djimbe, jembe, jenbe, yembe;
It is a skin covered hand drum shaped like a large goblet and is meant to be played with bare hands. It's made of a frame
or shell covered by a membrane or drumhead, made of one of many products, usually rawhide. The djembe originated in
West Africa, where it became an integral part of the area's music and tradition.
As a result of the goblet shape, the density of the wood, the internal carvings, and the skin, there is a wide range of tones
that can be produced by the djembe. The rounded shape with the extended tube of the djembe body forms a device
known in physics as a Helmholtz resonator, giving it the deep bass note. The primary tones are generally referred to as
"bass", "tone" (or open tone), and "slap". Striking the skin near the center with the palm produces a "bass" note; striking
the skin nearer the rim with the fingers flat produces a "tone", and the same position with the fingers relaxed so that the
fingertips snap to the head of the drum produces a "slap". The slap has a high, sharp sound and the tone is more "round"
and full. Other notes exist by pressing down on the drum head with one hand while playing with the other, but only
advanced drummers can consistently create sounds distinct from the others.
Traditionally, djembes are about 12" (30cm) in diameter, varying an inch or two, but can be found in sizes from 5"
(13cm) up to 18" (46cm) depending on the size of the player. The Djembe Paul used in his Journey To Bethlehem album
is 14" in Diameter. One of the most distinct songs to listen for the djembe is, "The Triumphal Entry", which also has a
rhythmic feel and flavor like the theatrical show, Riverdance.
The Conga Drums--
The conga is a tall, narrow, single-headed Cuban drum of African origin, probably derived from the Congolese Makuta
drums. A person who plays conga is called a "conguero". Although ultimately derived from African drums made from
hollowed logs, the Cuban conga is staved, like a barrel. These drums were probably made from salvaged barrels originally.
They were used both in Afro-Caribbean religious music and as the principal instrument in Rumba. Congas are now very
common in Latin music, including salsa music, as well as many other forms of American popular music. Although they
are played throughout this album, some great examples to hear Paul's conga's are in his songs, "The Queen of Sheba" and
"Journey To Bethlehem".
Most modern congas have a staved wooden or fiberglass shell, and a screw-tensioned drumhead. They are usually played
in sets of two to four with the fingers and palms of the hand. Typical congas stand approximately 75 cm from the bottom
of the shell to the head. The drums may be played while seated. Alternatively, the drums may be mounted on a rack or
stand to permit the player to play while standing.
Paul French also used the wooden body of his conga drums, playing them with drum sticks. In his song, "The Walls of
Jericho", you will notice this technique at the intro and solo parts of the song.
Sometimes called rhumba shakers. They are simple percussion instruments, usually played in pairs, consisting of a dried
calabash or gourd shell (cuia - 'kOO-ya') or coconut shell filled with seeds or dried beans. They may also be made of
leather, wood, or plastic. Often one maraca is pitched high and the other low.
The instrument is of prehistoric Moroccan origin. The word maraca is thought to have come from the Tupi language of
Brazil, where it is pronounced 'ma-ra-KAH'. Although a simple instrument, the method of playing the maracas is not
obvious. The seeds must travel some distance before they hit the leather, wood, or plastic, so the player must anticipate
the rhythm. Although they look easy to play, they are very critical in keeping with time.
Maracas are heard in many forms of Latin music and are also used in pop and classical music. They are considered
characteristic of the music of Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. In rock and roll, they are probably most identified with Bo
Diddley. They're great for Christian Instrumental Music as well, and fun to play!
Is a percussion instrument that sometimes looks like a fish! It consists of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel
notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a wooden stick along the notches to produce a ratchet-like sound. The
güiro is commonly used in Latin-American music, and plays a key role in the typical cumbia rhythm section. Paul used the
Guiro often throughout these instrumental songs, and is one of our favorites. With it's unique sound and flavor, it gives
the music a push and sets the mood. Listen to "The Queen of Sheba".
The Cow Bell and Wooden Block--
Cowbells are made of metal, and are an important element in Latin-American and go go music. Cowbells are struck with a
stick - the tone being modulated by striking different parts of the bell and by damping with the hand holding the bell.
Cylindrical or rectangular hollow wooden blocks are also played in the same way. They are often played as 1/4 notes in
time to the music. Our song "King David's Palace" is a great instrumental piece, where the Cow Bell and Wooden Block
are used in a fun and energetic way!
Timbales (or tymbales) are shallow single-headed drums, shallower in shape than single-headed tom-toms, and usually
much higher tuned. The player (known as a timbalero) uses a variety of stick and hand strokes, rim shots, and rolls on the
skins to produce a wide range of percussive expression during solos and at transitional sections of music, and usually plays
the shells of the drum or auxiliary percussion such as a cowbell or cymbal to keep time at other parts of the song. The
name originates from the French word timbale, meaning kettledrum. The Timbales were used very often throughout this
whole album. A great example is found in the drum solo parts of our song, "Joshua" (the first song). The rims of the
timbales were also played at the drum solo and ending of "Exodus".
A percussion instrument can be any object which produces a sound by being struck with an object or hand, shaken,
rubbed, scraped, or by any other action which sets the object into vibration. The term usually applies to an object used in
a rhythmic context and/or with musical intent. The word, "percussion", has evolved from Latin terms: "percussio" (which
translates as "to beat, strike" in the musical sense, rather than the violent action), and "percussus" (which is a noun
meaning "a beating"). In a musical context then, the term "percussion instruments" may have been coined originally to
describe a family of instruments including drums, rattles, metal plates, or wooden blocks which musicians would beat or
strike to produce sound. Percussion instruments come in countless sizes, shapes and sounds. They are the oldest
instruments known to man, next to the human voice. And still today, they can be great enjoyment for both the musician
and the listener!
Much of the instrumental percussion influence in my own life, growing up as a child, was built from listening to artists
like, Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny, Henry Mancini and Sergio Mendes Brasil 66. Arthur Lyman had great songs like,
Taboo, Quiet Village, Bahia, Tropical, and so many others which gave me a great love for percussion instrumentals.
Henry Mancini and his music from Hatari, was another which had great percussion sounds and rhythms. Although Paul
was from a different time and generation than me, he enjoyed listening to these artists too. He would play along with his
congas to my old records and tapes. I could tell very soon that he shared the same love for percussion that I had. Through
the music ministry at our church, we were both very grateful to have known Robby Robinson. Robby shared his great
musical experience with us for over 8 years. He also introduced Paul and myself to one of the greatest percussionists ever,
Richie Garcia! Richie is a great friend of Robby, they have known one another for many years throughout their music
careers. Paul and I were so blessed and inspired to watch Richie Garcia play his congas and other percussion instruments.
One of our favorites was when he would play the wooden box. Richie Garcia and Robby Robinson also have a great love
for the Lord Jesus Christ, and to Paul and I, that's all the more motivating and inspiring!
The Percussion music in this album can also be great for Christmas programs and even Luau Parties as well.
Many have used this album for background music in their Christmas pageant plays in their church for the Bethlehem
scenes and other Biblical events that took place in Jesus life. The music in this album holds up well either as background
music or that which is played loud and up front. The most noted comments we have received from this album is how the
music stirs the imagination of the mind, to go back in ancient Biblical times and relive truths and events from God's word
so well remembered, taught and loved! Christopher W. French
Paul French with his Djembe and other instruments used in this Instrumental Christian album;
Featuring Musical Themes from Biblical Times!
©Rhythm On The Rock Productions
Music written and composed by
Paul and Christopher W. French
Paul began playing
percussion at 8 years old.
Standing on wooden boxes
and crates to reach his
conga's and drums, Paul
studied hard and used his
talents for the Lord. He
performed in countless
worship services and
programs throughout his 8
years of learning experience
under the guidance and
direction of Robby Robinson,
keyboard player and band
director for Frankie Valli and
the Four Seasons.
Journey To Bethlehem album song themes and descriptions.
Joshua, song one. The theme for this song is based on the reading from the book of Joshua, chapter 24.
This instrumental begins with a drum-roll on the timbales, as the conga drums and flute join in with imaginary voices from the Children of
Israel singing as they affirm how they too, will serve the LORD! The piano creates the musical theme, and it’s not long before the violin
and timbales begin to answer back to one another in an unusual and inspiring drum/violin solo. The sound of strings and guitar add to the
rhythm and pulse, giving the song color with a touch of Spanish flavor. Crank this song up loud and hear the individual hand drums, bells
and Djembe sounds! May we all say with confidence as Joshua did, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD!”
Ruth and Boaz, song two. The theme for this instrumental was inspired from the book and story of Ruth.
This song takes us back in time with the melancholy sounds of the harmonica and violin portraying the sadness of Naomi, who suffered
the loss of her husband and two sons. The beautiful melodies also stir the imagination of our hearts with romance and love for the
relationship between Ruth and Boaz. The Djembe is the main percussion instrument used (pronounced strongly on the fourth count of
each measure) along with the sixteenth-note sound of drum sticks played on the timbale rims.
King David’s Palace, song three. This song’s theme is based on 2 Samuel, chapter five.
The festive sounds of the flute and violin in this tune, played together with upbeat piano solos and drum accents, tell the story of what a
celebration in King David’s palace could have been like. Certainly the instruments used and music back then were more primitive, far
less melodious and harmonic, but we can be certain they were great and joyous, as King David celebrated before the LORD for giving
him many victories! David was a righteous king, (although not without fault) a man after God’s own heart, as well as an acclaimed
warrior, musician and poet. He was the author of many of the Psalms. (Psalm 23 for example)
The Queen of Sheba, song four. This interesting instrumental’s theme was inspired by 2 Chronicles, chapter 9.
This song begins with the Tumba drum (which is a little larger than the conga) along with the whine of the strings and bells for melody.
To add adventure and the impression of a large caravan on its way, the toms (small drums about 12-16 inches in diameter) were used in
the background, struck by soft mallets to imitate the sounds of the queen’s camels as they plod their way to see King Solomon. The
Guiro (a hand held percussion instrument producing a ratchet-like sound) is very distinct throughout and hard to miss, as it trades off
with the large cow-bell, making the piece very unique. The tumba and conga drums give it that safari touch!
Exodus, song five. This song was inspired from the book of Exodus, chapters 13 and 14.
The song begins with sounds of rushing water and thunder, as God drove the sea back for the Israelites to cross on dry land. Midway
through the song (and ending) is a wooden drum stick solo, played on the rims of the timbales (a free standing drum) painting the
imaginary picture of Pharaoh’s army with their chariots and horses in pursuit of the Israelites. The rhythmic beat throughout the song
implies the chase and suspense!
Journey To Bethlehem, song six. Perhaps one of the most well loved songs in this album!
The song begins with a timbale drum fill and the clash of a large cymbal. Conga drums play their soothing rhythms as we imagine Joseph
and Mary on their way to Bethlehem. The sound of strings and piano set the mood and melody for the journey. The large gongs and
voices in the background add to the effects and dynamics, creating ambiance and atmosphere for what could be a movie sound track!
This song has been used often by many for Christmas plays and pageants.
Pharaoh and the Taskmasters, song seven. This song’s theme was created from the book of Exodus, chapter 5.
Written and composed in the sad key of A Minor, Pharaoh and the Taskmasters, sets forth a tone of sorrow and pain with violin and
background voices, portraying the cries of the people of Israel in slavery. The song bears tension and sadness throughout, as we
imagine Israel slaving away in Egypt under Pharaoh and his taskmasters, waiting for deliverance from the LORD!
The Jewish Carpenter, song eight. The Jewish Carpenter, of course refers to none other than, Jesus Christ, who was born of the
Virgin Mary, and His father, Joseph, a carpenter by trade. The song begins with the violin and cello for the intro, and then with the clash
of a cymbal, the tempo begins and the music transforms into a fun and catchy beat that makes it hard to keep your feet still! The Jewish
Carpenter song’s rhythm and beat was inspired by the Hebrew folk song, Hava Nagila, meaning "Let us rejoice."
The Walls of Jericho, song nine. This song’s them is based on the book of Joshua, chapter 6.
This instrumental has two unusual wooden-stick drum solos, played on the sides of the wooden conga drums; one at the intro of the
song and the other midway through. The music and horns break often while the percussion instruments continue to play, building
excitement and suspense as the seventh day approaches, and the walls of Jericho fall to the ground!
Wedding Feast at Cana, song ten. This instrumental was created from the Gospel of John, chapter two. At the wedding of Cana
in Galilee, Jesus turned six stone water jars, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons, into wine. The Djembe drum and Pan Flute used
in this song; do a great job creating the old-world sounds and rhythms one could imagine being played during the celebration at the
wedding of Cana. Conga drums fill in between song breaks. The wooden-block jumps in at opportune times as the music takes a
breath, and the cow-bell pushes the tune along.
The Triumphal Entry, song eleven. This instrumental was inspired from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 11. The driving force
behind this song is the Djembe and Conga drums, playing together in unison using 1/8 note triplets, (similar to the drum beats used in the
theatrical show, Riverdance). The sound of strings and harmonica play melodies of sadness and beauty; sadness, because Jesus is riding
in to Jerusalem to be crucified; beauty, because through His death on the cross our sins are completely forgiven and paid for, washed
clean, white as snow! Hallelujah!
The Shepherd Boy, song twelve. This happy little tune was inspired from the book of 1st Samuel, chapter 17. David spent many
of his days tending his father's sheep in Bethlehem. The LORD delivered David from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear!
The Conga drums joyfully lead the way in this song, as the sounds of flute and violin set a pleasant tone and mood for young David, as
he tends his father’s sheep in Bethlehem. David was also a musician and poet, as he was the author of many of the Psalms. He was a
man after God’s own heart! (See Acts 13:22)
Jammin' for Jesus, track thirteen. This conga and drum solo was recorded just for fun after the completion of our album. We
had never intended to add this recording to our Journey To Bethlehem album, but when Paul had suggested it, (one week before CD
duplication and mastering) I agreed, and within the hour (including set-up and recording) it was complete! Paul insisted that we keep it
completely original and unedited, over 10 minutes in length and with all its imperfections and remarks in the background (including
comments at the end from his girlfriend, Amanda). I didn’t know how well it would be received at first, but I trusted that God had put
on Paul’s heart to include it. Now as we have found in time passing, people enjoy it very much and have even purchased the album
because of it. Needless to say, we are very proud and thankful to God to have it as part of our album!
The Djembe - Kum Ba Yah song - by Paul French
A short demonstration playing the African Drum, Djembe.
Video created March 7, 2007. Running Time 2min 41sec
Below are some videos by Paul French you may also enjoy!
Conga and Drum Solo - by Paul and Christopher W. French
A Conga and Drum Solo, just for fun!
Video created June 06, 2006. Running time 2min 18sec
The Little Drummer Boy - by Robby Robinson
A Jazz and Percussion instrumental featuring young Paul French on the conga drums at 12 years old.
Video created December 1998. Running Time 8min 13sec
Listen to complete album!