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For rumba, different stick patterns are played along with the clave. The sticks used are called palitos little sticks. Traditionally, palito patterns are played on the gua-gua which is a mounted piece of bamboo with a resonant hollow sound. We will be playing the palito patterns on the rim of the floor tom. Most of the palito patterns are played with the rumba clave in the right hand and the rest of the pattern with your left hand.
Listen: The clave figure within the palito pattern is not accented. The pattern should sound like one phrase with all notes at roughly the same volume. The clave is traditionally played by another person along with the palito patterns. Sometimes a near-flam is played between beat 3 of the second measure and the "and" of beat 3. Also, the pickup into the next phrase "and" of beat 4 can be a little rushed, giving more of an edge to the rhythm.
The hi-hat is included on "1" of each measure only as a reference and is not traditionally played. The next example is another palito pattern that is often used. In this pattern the unaccented notes are played as ghost notes.
Notice that this pattern breaks on the 2-part of the clave, giving a reference as to where the clave falls. Listen to the phrasing and again try to imitate it: 26 Our third palito pattern is also based on rumba clave.
Remember, the clave within the palito pattern is not accented. Palito pattern 3: A fourth variation on the basic palito pattern differs from the first palito pattern in that the first note of the second measure is played on the "and" of "1".
Palito pattern 4: Cascara: Cascara is the Spanish word for shell, referring to playing on the side or shell of the timbale. Cascara is played in salsa during verses and softer sections of music such as piano solos.
On drum set we can imitate this technique on the side of the floor tom. The basic cascara pattern is the same as the basic palito pattern, except that it is played with one hand. The other hand usually the left plays a muffled tone on "2" and an open tone on "4" on the low timbale. Seeing timbales played live is the best way to understand how this works.
As son music moved from the rural areas to the cities the instrumentation changed. Bongos, maracas and clave were played in early son bands. Arsenio Rodriguez, the great tres a three stringed guitar-like instrument player and band leader, was one of the first to use congas in his ensembles.
Eventually timbales were added, creating a drum section of three drummers: a conguero playing congas, a bongocero playing bongos and handbell, and a timbalero playing timbales.
Timbale is the Spanish word for timpani orchestral kettle drums. The timbales were the Cuban adaptation of the larger European drums which were used in danzon orchestras.
The danzon orchestras played music for the upper classes, most of which was refined dance music from Europe and the United States.
From the danzon orchestras came charangas, which also played for upper class social gatherings. Timbales were used in charanga bands, and later congas were added. Timbales were eventually brought into the bands and orchestras playing son music, and have become an integral part of the salsa rhythm section as well.
Some of the modern bands in Cuba and New York are using cascara with rumba clave. Cascara played with right hand rumba clave : Try playing the cascara figure on the side of the floor tom while playing rumba clave with a cross stick on the snare drum. This is not a traditional pattern, but it is played by some current timbaleros, such as Nicky Marrero, and some modern bands in Cuba. After playing several patterns without stopping, count "1" on the second bar of the pattern, changing it to a pattern.
After several patterns go back to counting "1" at the beginning of the first bar. This is an important concept to learn because many charts for Afro-Cuban music will go in and out of and clave within the same song. All they are doing is starting figures and phrases on different parts of the same clave. In adapting traditional rhythms played in son music to the drumset, we can look to the timbales. Notice the metallic sound of the timbale shell.
Timbale sticks are untapered, without tips and narrower than drum sticks. They are played with matched grip. The right hand plays cascara on the side of the timbale while the palm of the left hand plays muffled and open tones on the lower of the two timbales.
This compliments the tumbao figure with a single note on "4" instead of two notes. The ruff and rim shot that opens the rhythm is called abanico, meaning "fan". Abanico is used especially in patterns. It can be played as a four- stroke ruff or five-stroke roll. On timbales cascara with a conga player son clave : 31 And here with son clave: Bombo note: The second note of clave is called the bombo note because the bombo drum played in the conga rhythm accents this note of the clave.
The bombo note is accented in folkloric music congas, rumbas, etc. In the bombo drum pattern all notes are muffled except the bombo note. Hear: The bass drum can imitate the lower conga drum by playing two notes on the three part of the clave which answers the tumbao figure played on the higher conga. This pattern uses only certain notes of the basic cascara pattern.
Some bands in Cuba, such as Los Van Van, use this cascara variation. Syncopated cascara: Since the hi-hat is not part of the timbale set-up, it is of course not usually heard in Afro-Cuban music. Playing the hi-hat also tends to interrupt the syncopated flow of the cascara patterns. However, as a great independence exercise you could try playing the clave pattern with your left foot on the hi-hat. In fact, you can try playing clave with the hi-hat in many of the different sections of this site.
But remember, the hi-hat is not a traditional sound in Afro-Cuban music, it is used more in African popular music, Calypso, Reggae, Brazilian music, jazz and rhythm and blues.
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PRO DRUM SHOP
For rumba, different stick patterns are played along with the clave. The sticks used are called palitos little sticks. Traditionally, palito patterns are played on the gua-gua which is a mounted piece of bamboo with a resonant hollow sound. We will be playing the palito patterns on the rim of the floor tom. Most of the palito patterns are played with the rumba clave in the right hand and the rest of the pattern with your left hand. Listen: The clave figure within the palito pattern is not accented.
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