Saturday, April 30, 2016

Afro-Cuban Percussion - Session #1 - EW Rumba Club

Thanks to the EWHS Music Boosters and Kyle Humann Scholarship for sponsoring this lesson series with master percussionists: Jeff Busch
and Ricardo Guity

Friday, April 29, 2016 - SESSION 1 - EW Rumba Club

Goal: to expose EW Jazz Musicians to more diverse forms of music with hands-on interaction with authentic "Salsa" drumming artists and instructors, and to focus some energy and enthusiasm into Afro-Cuban drumming and Latin Jazz.

This blog is to aid and assist in a review of what happens at EW Rumba Club (review) and to help those unable to attend to benefit from some of the concepts covered (spark notes).

Nothing is better than listening to the masters.
El Cayuco

The instructional style was primarily Descarga (jam session). Jeff and Ricardo demonstrated and then had the students join in with their own sticks. Eventually stations for each instrument were explored by all and some materials were examined from Rebecca Mauleon's Salsa Guidebook.

There are many great videos to see on youtube of all of these different styles and drum patterns and there are many variations depending on the location of origin.

For a big written overview consider reading the overview on Wiki for Salsa


Congas - larger hand drums often played in pairs or trios on the floor with the high drum (smallest) on the left. The player is known as a Congalero.

Good instructional video on the basics of hand position for Conga Playing

Timbales - pair of metal framed drums usually played with special drum sticks. The player is referred to as the Timbalero.

Good examples for basic instruction ...

Techniques of Timbale playing - As a generalized guide line, it can be said that in the introduction and the verse of a song, the timbalero plays the cáscara, in the montuno section (section in which the the singer starts to improvise) he plays the bell and in the mambo section (horn section) he plays the cymbal. (Note: These ʻrulesʼ are not absolute and only meant as a guide line.)

This advice comes from:
which is a very detailed description of techniques and history any student may benefit from reading.

Abanico - classic drum fill which separates the two sections of a tune including a six-stroke roll and rimshot
Nice video from Michael de Miranda

Cascara - (shell) - a distinctive pattern played on the side of the Timbale - see the links above

Bongos - two smaller hand drums often played between the knees with the high drum (smaller) on the left. The player may be referred to as a bongocero.

Son Clave and Martillo (hammer technique on bongos)

Marcha - Bongo or Conga (March beat)

Hand Percussion
Guiro -
Campana or Cincerro or Bell (timbale have "mambo bell" and "cha-cha bell", the bongocero has a "bongo bell") - the bells are played during the Montuno or "high" part of the song

Of course, watching and reading is not learning so be sure to find a drum and try these different patterns.  Pick a few and work on them for several days in a row.

Pick some favorite artists and see if the grooves make sense with the track.

Email Jake Bergevin if you have questions about sessions or links