January 18, 2019
Luis Conte's Guide to Latin Percussion Vol. I

The aim of this course is help you become a well-equipped percussionist capable of performing comfortably within the most common musical situations in the Afro-Caribbean/Brazilian spectrum. The Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian diasporas will be focused on because of their integral influence on popular music and the world culture at large. Beginning with the music of Cuba is the most logical because of its seminal influence upon the musics and cultures of the Americas and beyond. 

From an Afro-Cuban perspective, these are the son, mambo, guaracha, chachachá, bolero and other styles which, in modern times, the term "salsa" is used, a word that literally means the blending of items to form a sauce.  In terms of music, this was a term historically founded in the late 60s and 70s by the U.S. American record company Fania Records to market the music being made by the Cuban, Puerto Rican, and other Caribbean and Latin-American immigrants in New York City.

Styles, rhythms, and nomenclature that a "Latin percussionist" must know in order to be comfortable playing within the"salsa" idiom and beyond are: son montuno, mambo, guaracha, marcha, cáscara, tumbao, guaguanco, and rumba among others. Additional styles to be broached will include bolero, calypso, soca (soul of calypso), bossa nova, and samba; these are necessary ingredients of a well-rounded percussionist's vocabulary.

Instruments focused on will include the claves, congas (also known as tumbadoras), bongos, timbales, cowbells and irons, maracas, güiro/güira/guayo or scraper, tambourine, shaker, and drum set applications. From the Afro-Brazilian/Escola deSamba/Batucada perspective, this will include pandeiro, shaker (ganza, Chocalho or Rocar), and drum set applications. 

Because of the visceral foundation of African rhythms in Afro-Caribbean musics, we will discuss and demonstrate the understanding of the 6/8 African root rhythms and how, in certain styles, the manner in which a Latin percussionist plays can exhibit a rhythmic interpretation that cannot truly be notated in either 4/4 or 6/8 time signatures. 

We will first go over the technique (proper hand positions & movements), tones, notations, and patterns for the instrumentation found in bands performing music within the Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, and Escola de Samba idioms. We will then supply video demonstrations of the material to be learned as well as necessary listening material. 

Each section has a listening list but you can visit the entire playlist on our YouTube playlist.