Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bongos

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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby Barryabko » Sun Mar 08, 2015 6:36 pm

p.a.dogs1:

I don't think there should be any distinction between playing congas versus any other instrument. If congas are appropriate for a song they should be played to complement the song as best as possible.

I did see Airto performing with Flora Purim. I think it was at The House of Blues on Sunset. I don't specifically remember if Airto was playing congas that night but I do remember that I enjoyed his playing very much! An added treat was that he and Flora happened to be sitting at the bar before the show next to my cousin and myself. We had a very nice conversation and it was really cool to get to know them a little bit.
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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby CongaTick » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:31 pm

"Everybody can be a percussionist. All you gotta do is pound on something somewhere on the beat, and that's all it takes." A quote from a casual skin slapper who I asked NOT to casually "slap" my congas. Granted, he'd had too many, but hate to say it, but this is the prevailing attitude by non-musicians and wannabe musicians I run across quite often..... I'd rather practice at home or play/jam with a small/select crew. All of your posts have been an inspiration and a poignant footnote to what we consider a primal art!
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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby Thomas Altmann » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:30 am

@RitmoBoricua:

You have posted YT-links to some of the undisputed masters of group drumming in percussion sections. I think nobody would deny that these are fine examples of how to do it. There are even more, and most people in this forum should have had the experience of playing in skilled sections as well. However, for some reason Cubans have habitually a funny way to play samba.

I wonder what could force me to play with a drum set or percussion player that is always stepping on my toes? Good thing that I make my living and have a profession that does not have anything to do with performing music.


Sometimes you don't know it beforehand. And if you find out that your fellow percussionist is rather inexperienced, you would give him a chance to work on it and find his place, assuming he has ears, wouldn't you? It may take time, though ... just if it takes too long, and too much suffering on your side, you consider the possibility that it may never really work out. And by the way, even if you're inside music as a pro, you have no doubt the option to quit or justly oust the other guy. I opted to quit and dispensed with the little extra income from that band.

@Barryabko:

I agree with you re: practice and preparation. Now, everybody has his/her own idea of "mastering the instrument"; some people are quickly satisfied with their skill, others believe it takes forever, literally. Some people even forget it's their job to step out and perform eventually. It's ridiculous to assume you can ever be able to do anything that has been done by all the masters, and even more, and even better. Even the so-called masters have their weak spots, the stuff they have to leave up to their esteemed colleagues, who in turn dig the other guy's talent. You've got to get ready and come out one day! You have your practice down, then forget it and make some music, because this is the real practice; your training will carry you (hopefully).

I also feel I have to put our esoteric excursion into perspective. For myself, the demands of the profession and the requirements of the art form have guided me on what I called a "path". It made my craft grow, and it made me grow as a person. A lot of people don't see it that way, although they undergo the same process; they just don't talk much about it. Some musicians also have more natural talent than I have, so they never have to struggle that hard for their self-development. To me, this journey is not the destination at the same time. There are many amateurs, and I don't want to be disrespectful here, who play a drum for self-therapy or spiritual enlightenment. For me as a professional drummer, things are different by principle. My goal is to produce some good music, and all the practice, be it technical or mental, is a means to this end. It's pretty much a down-to-earth thing; if I would be a grocer, I would proceed in a similar way.

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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby RitmoBoricua » Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:40 am

<<You have posted YT-links to some of the undisputed masters of group drumming in percussion sections. I think nobody would deny that these are fine examples of how to do it. There are even more, and most people in this forum should have had the experience of playing in skilled sections as well. However, for some reason Cubans have habitually a funny way to play samba.>>

You are right Candido and Mongo not known to be samba players per se
as seen on their respective solos.

<<Sometimes you don't know it beforehand. And if you find out that your fellow percussionist is rather inexperienced, you would give him a chance to work on it and find his place, assuming he has ears, wouldn't you? It may take time, though ... just if it takes too long, and too much suffering on your side, you consider the possibility that it may never really work out. And by the way, even if you're inside music as a pro, you have no doubt the option to quit or justly oust the other guy. I opted to quit and dispensed with the little extra income from that band.>>

I think along the same lines, give it some time and if still does not work out somebody got to go.
Some years back I ran into a situation and I decided that I had to go for the benefit of the band.
I was told I was doing stuff wrong. Ok I can live with that but if you are going to tell me I am doing
something wrong is because you know how-to do it right and is your responsibility to tell me the right
way of doing things. But I was never told how to do it right so after awhile I left.
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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby RitmoBoricua » Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:59 am

CongaTick wrote:"Everybody can be a percussionist. All you gotta do is pound on something somewhere on the beat, and that's all it takes." A quote from a casual skin slapper who I asked NOT to casually "slap" my congas. Granted, he'd had too many, but hate to say it, but this is the prevailing attitude by non-musicians and wannabe musicians I run across quite often..... I'd rather practice at home or play/jam with a small/select crew. All of your posts have been an inspiration and a poignant footnote to what we consider a primal art!


I hear you congatick. At this point in my life I have very little interest
on playing in a band. I just do not have the time that is required to rehearse
a band so you can sound good but I do practice everyday. Am I a wannabe?
No I am not. Percussion is important to me whether is playing of restoring
drums but there is much more of me than just percussion also. Is all good
to each it's own or like we say back home " Cada Loco Con Su Tema". Keep
drumming, peace out.
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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby JohnnyConga » Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:01 pm

In my opinion in order to play the Conga drum takes many different 'skill sets'... NOT EVERYONE can play percussion..I have met people who cant chew bubble gum and walk., don't know left from right, can't take direction, has no concept of 'timing', and also physically cannot produce on the drum.

The Conga drum has come a long way from the 'primeval' instrument it used to be.. It has become more sophisticated and to learn to play it today is much more complicated as well.
As a player with 50 years in on the drum and teaching how to play it to thousands around the world, I can tell u that in one lifetime you won't learn it all on the drum but you can become proficient on it and in some cases actually have a life with the drum...Yes there are a lot of misconceptions about playing the Conga drum...hitting it is not playing it!..that's two different things all together... If you REALLY want to learn find a 'qualified' Instructor that has a 'history' of teaching how to play and is also well informed about the music, the cultures, and the history that surrounds the Conga drum....also check his references and try to talk to any of his ongoing or prior pupils...NOT everyone that plays, can teach...That takes a full curriculum to do. IF the Instructor actually has one...Most do not...so for those that are not in the know about what there is to learn, this is what I offer...

This is my curriculum for my Latin Percussion course:

The study of the Conga drum,

Cuban methods as taught in Cuba today which include: Also my methods developed over 30 years of teaching

Sound development-utilizing the 5 parts of the hand Heel/Palm/Fulcrum/Inner knuckles/and Tips of fingers- balancing of the hands…relaxation and breathing …
Hand exercises which include my S.T.O.M.P method-Slap Tone Open Muffle Palm
Rudimentary hand drumming and approaches on Conga drum
One conga drum, 2 conga drums, 3 conga drums 4 drums

Styles in Mambo, Rumba, Salsa, Son, Latin Jazz, Folkloric, R&B, Pop, Jazz and other styles
Counting and keeping time

Latin Rhythm Theory
Ensemble performance
The Clave & pulse
6/8 Clave
Son Clave
Rumba Clave
The Clave today
Phrasing with the Clave
Variations on the Clave
Polyrhythm’s in Cuban Music
Latin music and its history

Cuban and Caribbean Rhythms taught are:

Bolero-5 variations
Caballo (Horse rhythm)-with variations
Danson
Yambu
Guaguanco-6 variations
Cuban Rumba-with variations-Havana and Matanzas….Columbia/Abierto (open) 2Conga drums/one drum/New York street style rumba
Abakua-one drum pattern to 3 drum patterns
Plena (Puerto Rico)
Bomba
Bomba Sica
Bomba Yuba
Bambiche
Merengue (Dominican Republic) old skool new skool
Mozambique-old school NY style/Cuban variations
Cumbia (Columbia)-with variations on one drum to 3 drums
Bembe(Afro) variations
Conga Comparsa(Carnival drumming) with variations
Changui
Calypso(Trinidad) one to 3 conga drums with variations
Bossa Nova(Brasil) with variations from one to 3 conga drums
Afro-Samba(Brasil)
Baion(Brasil)
Samba on 2 to 3 conga drums
Songo with 9 variations
Pilon on 2 and 3 congas
Iyesa with variations
6/8 basic one conga drum to 3 conga drums
Guarapachangeo with variations from 2 drums to 5
Ritmo Pa Ca
Dengue
Jala Jala
Tumbaos (basic rhythmic conga patterns for Latin Dance music) with many variations
Chaonda-lost rhythm…
6/8 Bell patterns on conga drum with variations
Mongo Santamarias tumbaos and rhythmic approaches
Mongos Merengue
Mongos Afro Blue with variations
and a variety of other rhythmic styles/rhythms and playing in odd meters 5 7 and 9

“Cognitive Discovery” with the Drum: A new way of learning how to use your brain in ways to develop your intake of information and how it's interpreted on the Conga drum.

So if your 'serious' about learning to 'really' learn how to play the Conga drum and "ALL" that comes with it email me at johnnyconga@hotmail.com and we'll take it from there..Thank you...
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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby RitmoBoricua » Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:22 pm

JohnnyConga wrote:In my opinion in order to play the Conga drum takes many different 'skill sets'... NOT EVERYONE can play percussion..I have met people who cant chew bubble gum and walk., don't know left from right, can't take direction, has no concept of 'timing', and also physically cannot produce on the drum.

The Conga drum has come a long way from the 'primeval' instrument it used to be.. It has become more sophisticated and to learn to play it today is much more complicated as well.


You hit the nail right on the head. Lots of people think congas, bongos etc are
"wild jungle drums" what they called "exotic" and does not require any kind of skill
to hit the drum. Just hit it any kind of way and have fun. I venture to say that for
some people it will be a lot easier to learn how to play classical piano than conga,
bongos etc. Good, solid, teachers and masters like JC are not really abundant,
specially outside of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Brazil, and cities
like NYC, LA, SF and Miami. But you will find decent piano teachers just about
anywhere but not percussion teachers and masters. Give the drum, masters and
rhythms the respect they earned and deserve.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPZdBkAJXZI
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Re: Introduction - drum set player but new to Congas and Bon

Postby windhorse » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:57 pm

RitmoBoricua wrote:I think the following video demonstrate some of your points and how these four masters do their thing without getting in each other's way. Beautiful piece by these four masters.
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=82 ... nref=story


Volcàn is Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Giovanny Hidalgo, Horacio El Negro Hernàndez, & Armando Gola! :mrgreen:
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