Kit versus congas

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Kit versus congas

Postby CongaTick » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:17 pm

Your opinions, please: In a non-latin genre (blues/funk/fusion/jazz/rock, etc) if you had to choose a musician and place upon him/her the responsibility of "driving the beat" would it be a traditional drum kit player or a conga player? The question arises from a band situation I'm in, in which reluctant to bring in a trap drummer, I have been tasked (and that feels like the right word) with "driving the beat," and avoiding all, except, the briefest fills, having been told by them that in the absence of a kit drummer, I am their drummer. I'm sort of okay with that, though I do prefer a bit more freedom....Just curious about your experiences and opinions.
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby Mike » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:21 pm

Kit drummer.

Sorry, but as much as I like the conga as the heartbeat of all kinds of music
that comes from or goes back to Afro-Cuban music, as much do I like a solid
kit drum groove for the genres you mention. An additional conga player won´t hurt, but
as the only drummer the drumset would be my preference.
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby CongaTick » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:35 pm

Thanks for the response, Mike. I do appreciate it and I AGREE with you 100%. I tend to feel congas add spice and texture, rather than being the princiipal heartbeat driver. Looking forward to other opinions
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby jorge » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:54 am

Audience expectation is a major factor with the traditional genres you mention, people will expect the sound they are used to. So I agree the primary percussion for blues, jazz, rock and funk should be a drum kit not congas alone. Fusion may give you more flexibility and you can use a more typical latin type rhythm section like congas, bongo/bell and timbales without a drum kit, or maybe 2 of the 3 if a singer plays guiro or bell. It might sound great with just congas on a blues or rock tune but it will be very different from what the audience is likely to be expecting. Congas with a drum kit on blues, rock and funk can sound great and is commonly used.
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby CongaTick » Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:19 am

Jorge, interesting perspective, audience expectation. Hadn't considered that, but you're right. Ido also agree that congas are appropriate in SOME non-latin genres as beat driver if in combo with other percussion, but overall I have to cast my vote for them being a tasty SUPPLEMENTAL percussive force that brings a desirable texture level to the groove. More?
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby Mike » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:00 pm

CongaTick wrote:Jorge, interesting perspective, audience expectation. Hadn't considered that, but you're right. Ido also agree that congas are appropriate in SOME non-latin genres as beat driver if in combo with other percussion, but overall I have to cast my vote for them being a tasty SUPPLEMENTAL percussive force that brings a desirable texture level to the groove. More?


When I play funk, fusion and jazzrock with my band, I indeed feel that the conga parts are what you
so elegantly described as "a tasty SUPPLEMENTAL percussive force", Congatick :D 8)
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby CongaTick » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:24 pm

So am getting the consensus of this mini-survey that congas are solid supplemental percussion in NON-LATIN genres where a solid beat is plowed by a trap kit. This question came about when a band (originals/folk-rocky-grooves) I'm in, insisted I act as their "drummer" driving the beat. I didn't argue the point and did the best that I could (as monotonous as it was for me). Yet, I was just curious about others' experience and opinions. You've all been so helpful, and am grateful for the time you took to respond. It reaffirms my intuition regarding this issue. More???
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby Derbeno » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:34 pm

The Kit as used in Timba is also the main driver so I would not say broadbrush that the Kit is a non driver only for non-latin.
In saying that the Kit, Conga and Guiro work together with intricacy to give Timba that unique drive. I have seen some of the best bands live and it's just magical.

Apart from latin I also play with a Classic Rock band, we have created a great sound with the Congas adding that unique melody.
There have been times with stand-in drummers when I simply got up and went mingling because the stand-in had no clue how to play with another percussionist. No point wasting time or even trying to give egoistic folks like that any pointers.
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby CongaTick » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:17 pm

"There have been times with stand-in drummers when I simply got up and went mingling because the stand-in had no clue how to play with another percussionist. No point wasting time or even trying to give egoistic folks like that any pointers."

Wow, Derbeno. I have been there more than once, however, never occurred to me to execute so elegant an escape. I will keep it mind. And thank you all for your input. Invaluable!
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby Greensail » Wed Oct 07, 2015 6:05 pm

Hi CongaTick, I agree with the consensus of this thread (kit drum) but.... I am in an identical situation. I have been playing regularly with the same guys for years and we gig fairly regularly. We do a lot of 50-80's rock and blues, some R&B, touch of country, and have been moving further into some jazz tunes. Like you, I am tasked with being the time keeper (although in truth, our rhythm guitar is phenomenal and he almost never waivers) I keep saying we need a real drummer so I can play congas. But its not all that easy to find the right match, someone who can make most of the gigs and practices, and is same minded and gets along good. We all have day jobs so this is fun and beers with the guys. My solution was to SURRENDER TO SIMPLICITY. I try to hit the groove and concentrate on steadiness and as you say throw in a few fills. Initially, it was much more difficult but I have gotten to the point where I can say I enjoy it a lot. Additionally, over the years my mates have "modified" (for lack of a better word) their style so that it fits better with a conga. And they have also modified the set list to feature the conga in several tunes and that is enough for me. So I get to play congas for a bit but otherwise, keep it simple. I will also tell you that I / we get many comments from the audience they really like the congas a lot. Now when I play alone, unless I am trying to work out a fill or what I want to play with a particular tune, I nearly never work on band material but play a more Latin style. So my perspective would be simply relish that simple part and focus on driving the groove, listen to the tune, and enjoy.
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Re: Kit versus congas

Postby CongaTick » Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:35 am

Greensail,

Your experience and the accommodations you and your mates have made for each other, mirror almost exactly the evolution of one of the bands I'm in. It's all good, since we are--- as you and your mates, it would seem-- quite open to expanding percussive horizons. I greatly appreciate the time you took to participate and offer your comment. It is this exchange, this communication, that has always been an inspiration energizing the CongaPlace community which has lately suffered a bit from a bit of "fatigue" having covered almost all relevant percussive issues with great intensity (and repetition) over the years. Nonetheless, I remain an active and loyal observer and sometime contributor.
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