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Jorge Santo Latin American percussionist at a Conga drum
Teaching

THE CUBAN CLAVE
A pair of round, polished sticks made from hard wood held in the hands and hit together in rhythmic patterns also known as Clave; the keystone to most Cuban rhythms. Clave patterns can also be played on woodblocks or the side of a drum.

MARACAS
A matched pair of rounded rattles each mounted on a wooden handle; gourds were first used but other materials such as skin and plastic are to be found filled with pebbles, olive stones, buckshot, etc. The maracas are one of the only Cuban musical instruments of pre-Hispanic origin.

GUIRO
A dried and hollow gourd, long and round, played by scraping a stick along cut-in grooves on the surface of the gourd. In Cuba the Guiro plays an important role in genres such as Danzón, Chachachá and Salsa among others.

THE COWBELL OR CENCERRO
Made out of hard metal, cowbells are to be found in different sizes producing a variety of sounds. A wooden stick is used to hit the cowbell to produce a two note rhythm. Often in a Cuban ensemble three cowbells are used: a small, high pitched Cha-cha-chá bell and lower pitched Mambo bell as part of the percussion mounted on the timbales, and the third and lowest pitched bell is called the Campana or Bongo bell, which is played by the Bongo player. The patterns performed on these bells, when used either alone or simultaneously, make up most of the metallic percussive rhythms of Cuban music.

CHEQUERÉ OR SHEKERE
An African-derived rattle made of a round-hollow gourd with an opening on the narrow end and beads held by string net on the outside. Commonly used in Afro-Cuban religious rituals.

BONGÓ OR BONGOS
The Cuban-created Bongó is a pair of small round-single headed drums fixed together by a piece of wood. The skin on the top of each drum is held taught by a system of metal hardware that allows the drum to be tuned. The bongó player also has a cowbell called the cencerro or campana which is played during certain parts of the music. A thick wooden stick is used to strike the mouth and body of the bell to produce different tones. The history of bongo drumming can be traced to Cuban music styles known as Changui and Son. Today the Bongó can also be heard in Salsa orchestras.

TUMBADORA OR CONGA DRUM
The Cuban-created Tumbadora is a tall, barrel shaped, single headed drum. The skin on the top of the drum is held taught by a system of metal hardware that allows the drum to be tuned. Originally only made from hardwood staves, it is often also made in fibreglass. They are usually played in set of two, with the medium size called Conga or Macho (male), and the largest called Tumba or Hembra (female). A very important instrument within the Cuban rhythm section.

TIMBALES OR PAILAS
Derived from the classical tympani, the Cuban-created Timbales are two metal shelled drums mounted on a stand, with an extra bracket to hold cowbells and woodblocks. They are usually played with dowel-like sticks (timbale sticks). Much of the playing style involves use of the sides of the drum (Cáscara) and suspended cymbal. Today modern Salsa bands will have Bongó, Tumbadoras and Timbales, plus hand percussion such as Guiro and/or Maracas, and sometimes the Timbales are incorporated into the drum set.

BATÁ DRUMS
A set of three hourglass-shaped two headed drums of Nigerian origin, played horizontally: Iyá (the largest), Itótele (medium size), and Okónkolo (smallest of the drums) used mainly in Afro-Cuban religious rituals.

MULE JAW-BONE (QUIJADA) OR VIBRA-SLAP
The jaw of a mule or donkey, with the teeth loosened, can produce a sustained rattle sound by hitting it on a side. The vibra-slap is the factory-made version of the Quijada used in arrangements as a special effect.

SHAKER
A long metal container, partially full of small loose objects such as beads, which create the percussive sounds as they collide with each other by shaking the instrument back and forth.