Latin Drumming

The Latin drumming section provides drum lessons on the most popular Latin-American styles of music played on the drum set. These Latin drum lessons cover the Brazilian styles of bossa-nova and samba as well as the Afro-Cuban styles mambo, cha-cha-cha, salsa, Afro-Cuban 6/8, songo and the Mozambique.

Latin Music

Latin-American music encompasses music from the Latin American countries in South America and the Caribbean. Latin music was born out of the convergence of African music brought over by West-African slaves, European music introduced by the Spanish and Portuguese rulers and the traditional music of the native Americans.

As their culture, religion and language began to combine, so did their music. The highly percussive African rhythms fused with European melodies and song forms, giving birth to many different styles of Latin music. Instruments from all cultures were used and each country in the region developed many unique styles of music. Latin musical styles have rich cultural, religious and social significance in the communities where they originate.

During the early 20th century, many styles of Latin music were introduced to the United States. Latin American musicians influenced Jazz musicians who began to incorporate elements of Latin music, giving rise to Latin-jazz. These Latin music styles became popular amongst drummers and the percussion rhythms were adapted to the drum set.

Latin American music is classified as either Afro-Cuban or Brazilian music. These drum lessons include the following styles of Latin music:

Afro-Cuban

Brazilian

Clave

The clave, Spanish for "key", is a five-note skeletal rhythm, that Cuban rhythms and song forms are built around. The clave is usually played with claves, thick round pieces of wood that are struck together.

Clave can be phrased in two ways:

  • 2:3 clave, which has 2 notes in the first bar and 3 notes in the second, or
  • 3:2 clave, which has 3 notes in the first bar and 2 notes in the second.

The two main clave rhythms come from Son and rumba music. Son and rumba form the basis of all popular Cuban music heard today.

Son

The most popular Afro-Cuban clave is the son clave. Son is a traditional form of Cuban music, which developed in East Cuba during the second half of the 19th century. It originally had an unsavory reputation but eventually gained wide popularity.

3:2 Son Clave

3:2 Son Clave

2:3 Son Clave

2:3 Son Clave

Rumba

Another popular clave is the rumba clave. Rumba is Spanish for "party" and is a traditional style of Cuban, non-religious percussion music. It evolved out of poor Cuban communities after slavery was abolished and was played in small street gatherings to party or celebrate.

3:2 Rumba Clave

3:2 Rumba Clave

2:3 Rumba Clave

2:3 Rumba Clave

Afro-Cuban 6/8

The 6/8 clave is derived from traditional west African music and is played on a cowbell. African music does not have rigidly defined time signatures like western music and the notes fall somewhere between straight and triplet sub-divisions. That the son and rumba clave are both 4/4 adaptations of the 6/8 clave.

3:2 6/8 Clave

3:2 6/8 Clave

2:3 6/8 Clave

2:3 6/8 Clave

Latin Drums

The drum grooves in the Latin drum lessons are not traditional Latin American drum parts, since the drum kit is not a traditional Latin American instrument. These Latin grooves have been adapted from the rhythms played by traditional percussion instruments and combined as separate voices on the drum set.

Many of the Latin exercises also include the hi-hat foot playing on beats two and four. This is not a traditional Latin rhythm but comes from the influence of jazz drumming on modern Latin American drumming.

The grooves presented in the Latin drum lessons are written for the drum set alone. When playing with other percussionists these grooves should be moderated and simplified to leave room for the other rhythms.