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Conga Chachacha


Cha Cha Cha: Another dance that is very popular in this country in the club scene and even in international ballroom dancing as well as the Latino dance scene is the Cuban dance known in English as the Cha Cha. The name of the dance in Spanish is the Cha Cha Cha. The name is said to come from the noise the slippers the Cuban dancers used to wear made on the dance floor when doing the dance.

The music is characterized by quarter notes played on a cowbell (120 bpm) and it is important to remember that the "cha cha cha" comes on the beats "4 and 1" and not elsewhere as you may have heard American bands try to play it.

A common one-drum tumbao for Cha cha is shown below:

Conga

H

T

H

T

H

T

H

T

As mentioned above, the 2-3 basic mambo tumbao is also often played for cha cha.

Standard 2-3 clave Mambo 2-drum Tumbao played for Cha Cha

Conga

H

T

T

H

T

H

T

T

Tumba

Another dance-form popular in American and European circles is known as Rumba. (ROOM-bah in Spanish) This is a bit confusing since folkloric rumba consists of three dance forms (which we will not cover here) not at all related to what would be called rumba in a nightclub or in ballroom dancing. That dance which has origins in the Latin dance craze of the 30s, which we will call American rumba, is related more to the lush Latin musical form with romantic lyrics known as bolero (boh-LEH-roh in Spanish). The bolero dance allegedly originated from a folk courting dance where the couple to be would pass their hands over each other's bodies without ever actually touching. (Properly chaperoned by the village old women to make sure no actual touching occurred!) The modern bolero dance still retains much of the romantic feel and movements of the original. American rumba is an off-shoot of bolero and also retains some of the slow romantic feel of bolero though American/international rumba is slightly faster than bolero. Thus, a rumba tumbao is really just a bolero tumbao played a bit faster. It should never be played so fast as to lose the romantic feel, however.> A standard bolero tumbao would be:Conga

H

T

T

H

O

H

T

T

h

O

Tumba

I'm told that in the old days, congueros played the three open tones all with the strong hand, but one of the well known master conga players changed the traditional "sticking" to the above version, which is easier and more efficient to play. This version is now considered standard by modern players.

To illustrate the differences between a Tumbao pattern and the more traditional African based conga rhythms we will also give a Tumbao-like pattern below:

Tumbao-like traditional rumba rhythm

Conga

H

T

H

T

H

T

H

T

Now Compare that rhythm to a more African-like basic rumba low drum rhythm.

Basic rumba low drum rhythm

Conga

B

O

B

O

Finally compare to the underlying slow-quick-quick rhythm which defines American rumba dance movements.

Basic Rumba dance rhythm (as might be played on a drumset bass drum)

Conga

B

B

(Italic notes are accented)

Carlos "patato" Valdez who pioneered two congas in an orchestra also was one of the first to use three congas in a more melodic tumbao. A discussion of three or more conga tumbao is beyond what we are attempting to do here.





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