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Timbales


Timbales (also called pailas) are shallow single-headed drums with metal casing, invented in Cuba. They are shallower than single-headed tom-toms, and usually tuned much higher.

The player (called a timbalero) uses a variety of stick strokes, rim shots, and rolls to produce a wide range of percussive expression during solos and at transitional sections of music, and usually plays the shells of the drum or auxiliary percussion such as a cowbell or cymbal to keep time in other parts of the song.

The shells are referred to as cáscara (the Spanish word for shell), which is also the name of a rhythmic pattern common in salsa music that is played on the shells of the timbales. The shells are usually made of metal, but some manufacturers offer shells of maple and other woods. The heads are light, and tuned fairly high for their size.

Timbales (pronounced: [tɛ̃bal]) is also the French word for timpani, thus the French refer to Cuban timbales as timbales latines.

The term timbal or timbales (pl.) has been used in Cuba for two quite different types of drum. In the first place, it was first used to describe the kettle drums used in the wind orchestras known as orquestas típicas.

These were the same general type of drum used in military bands, perhaps slung either side of a horse, and in classical orchestras. These were, and are, played with mallets (sticks with large, soft, round heads). The timpani were replaced by pailas criollas, which were originally designed to be used by street bands. Pailas are always hit with straight batons that have no additional head. Hits are made on the top and on the metal sides. In a modern band the timbalero may also have a trap kit to switch to for certain numbers.

Thus the term timbales is ambiguous when referring to bands playing the danzón in the 1900–1930 period. If one does not have a photograph it is difficult to know which drum a band used.

(from Wikipedia)

Basic technique

 

Timbales are generally played positioning the large timbal to the left and the small one to the right (reversed for left handed).

Keep them at your waist level; you have to feel comfortable when playing.

Use wooden sticks; size are variable
(5/16" - 3/8" (raccomended) - 7/16" - 1/2").

When adding cowbell, woodblock, cymbal and a bass drum you can positon them as follows:

SMALL BELL
mouth points to the left;

LARGE BELL
mouth points to the right;

WOODBLOCK
it depends on size but often it is placed facing the player;

CYMBAL
to the right of the timbales (like a drum-set);

BASS DRUM
to the right of the timbales (like a drum-set).

 

The techniques to obtain the proper sound from your timbales are various:

OPEN SOUND
strike the center of the head with the tip of the stick and let the drum ring clearly

MUFFLED TONE
strike the center of the drum by pressing the tip of the stick against the head

RIM SHOT
strike the edge and the rim of the head at the same time producing a sharp, high pitched sound.

RIM CLICK
holding the stick between the forefinger and thumb, with your palm turn downward, strike the center of the head with the palm of the hand while the stick extends over the rim. This produces a muffled sound on the head and a click effect on the rim at the same time.


The left hand is often used without stick.
In this case we have two more sounds:

LEFT OPEN TONE
strike the center of the large head with the middle finger of the left hand. Let the head ring.

LEFT MUFFLED TONE
strike the center of the drum by pressing against the head with the fingers of your left hand. This produces a muffled thud sound.

Leave the stick on the small head in a handy position to pick it up for fill-in's and breaks.


PAILA
It is a Bolero and Rhumba accompaniment which is played by simply tapping the side of timbales (shell) with the tip of the stick (soft sound) or with the middle (loud sound).


BELL SOUNDS

By striking the bell at different point and with different part of the stick a variety of sound can be produced.
The following combinations (bell/stick) are generally the most commons: 

NECK AREA
strike with tip of the stick at the center of bell

MOUTH AREA
strike with middle stick the mouth area

LARGE BELL
generally played on the neck area (high). Use mouth for accenting

SMALL BELL
generally played on the mouth.

PRACTICE ALL THIS SOUNDS AND GET OUT YOURS!




The art of playing timbales
Victor Rendon

Mass Market Paperback - 96 pages
Music in Motion
Description
More than a collection of syncopated rhythms, Afro-Cuban music is a highly developed art form based on tradition. Like learning a new language, there are different "situations" that need to be understood when playing this music, because each situation requires a different approach. The purpose of ...


LP258S Tito Puente Series \"Thunder Timbs\" Timbales
Latin Percussion

Product Dimensions: 36 x 12 x 24 inches ; 20 pounds
Description
LP Tito Puente Thunder Timbs 10-Inch extra deep shells provide additional volume and bass tones. They can be used alone or with a set of Tito Puente Timbales. ...


Latin Rhythms for Drums and Timbales
Ted Reed

Paperback
(June 1986) Columbia Pictures Pubns.
Description
NOT AVAILABLE


Tito Puente's Drumming With the Mambo King
Tito Puente, Jim Payne

192 pages - Book & Cd edition
November 13, 2000 - Hudson Music
Description
Book Description Written by the great Tito Puente with Jim Payne. Includes: ? Instruction covering Latin rhythms and patterns applicable to the timbales and the drum set ? A retrospective--through Tito's own words and in photos--of Tito's incredible 50-year career as The King of Latin Music ? A ...


Play Timbales Now: The Basics & Beyond
Richie Gajate-Garcia

Paperback: 92 pages
Publisher: Alfred Music (November 1, 2004)
Description
Covers traditional and contemporary timbale patterns, rhythms for cowbell, cascara, cymbal, and more, tuning and maintenance, basic reading and notation, and patterns for school music ensembles. With two CDs of audio examples and play-along tracks. ...


Changuito: A Master's Approach to the Timbales
Jose Luis Quintana, Chuck Silverman

Paperback Bk&Cd-Rom
Edition (February 1998) Warner Brothers Publications.
Description
NOT AVAILABLE


Latin Percussion LP539-BK LP Timbale Bag Set
Latin Percussion

Product Dimensions: 26 x 17 x 3.2 inches ; 5.8 pounds
Description
Two bags set protects and transports LP Tito Puente Timbales or Timbalitos. ...


Latin Percussion Matador Timbale Stand
Latin Percussion

Shipping Weight: 12.6 pounds
Description
LP Matador Timbale Stand Made by LP Model Number: M259 ...


Vic Firth World Classic® -- Alex Acuña Conquistador (red) timbale
Vic Firth

Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.2 x 0.5 inches ; 3.2 ounces
Description
The Vic Firth Alex Acuna Conquistador Hickory Timbale sticks are designed to provide optimum response on timbales and cymbals. ...


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