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CUBAN PERCUSSION INSTRUMENTS

   

In this lesson we will look at Latin American instruments from Cuba. As drumset players, when we play Cuban rhythms like Salsa and Mambo we are imitating the work of individual percussion parts with our 4 limbs. Instruments such as Timbale, Clave, Guiro and Cowbells can all be imitated on the drumset, and often at the same time.

CONGAS: the congas are staved wooden or fibre glass shells with tension screwed heads, typically in sets of 2 to 4, played with the fingers and palms. The 5 basic tones of the congas are open, muffled, bass, slap and touch.

BONGOS: the bongos are a pair of single headed, open ended drums, held between the knees and played with the fingers and palms. Typically a steady consistent rhythm is played on the bongos such as a martillo.

TIMBALES: the timbales are shallow single headed drums, with metal casing producing a high pitch. Aside from the many sounds played from the timbale skin, the timbalero can also play on the side of the timbale shell, playing a rhythm called “cascara”, which in Spanish means shell.

GUIRO: the guiro is a hand held instrument consisting of an open ended hollow gourd with even notches carved into one side, played with a small stick. The stick can either slide across the rough side, or play sort, fast notes. Aside from the Cuban guiro pictured below, there are also Thai, Mexican and Puerto Rican guiros.

 

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