The Bongos were first used in the cuban music called the son (1900 - peasant music tradition from Oriente province in eastern Cuba).

They were the principal percussion instrument of Cuban Popular Music before the addition of congas later in the conjunto.The larger, low-pitch drum is called the hembra (female), and the smaller, high-pitched drum is the macho (male).The bongos are played by holding them between the knees, facing outward, the large bongo to the large bongo to the right of the player.

They may also be mounted on an adjustable stand. Tuning varies amomg players (generally much higher than the congas).Because the physical differences between the Congas and the Bongos, the technique for each instrument is quite different.

The most important rhythm/technique played on bongos is the martillo.

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