The Spanish permitted their slaves to worship through music and dance (in the Catholic religion), which led to the merging of the two cultures in both secular and religious aspects, establishing the foundation of Afro Cuban music and rhythms. What has survived is primarily a combination of the Spanish and West African cultures: Congolese, Yoruba and Dahomean (with their Cuban names Bantu, Lucumi' and Arara', respectively). The styles presented here developed individually, so it's important to recognize the uniqueness of each style and its appropriate application in Afro Cuban music. It's even more important to recognize and understand the differences between Afro Cuban music (commonly referred to as "Salsa") and Brazilian music, because they're often lumped together under the N-ague term, "Latin Music." With this article I will try to clarify the differences between the Afro Cuban and Brazilian music and rhythms styles as these are fundamentally very different musical styles.
As a result of the extensive number of styles in the Afro Cuban genre, it is impossible to go through each style in one article, so look out for my other articles on the same subject. In addition, I will include two non Cuban styles later on, those are: Bomba and Merengue. Though they're not of Cuban origin, it's necessary to know them when performing in most Afro Cuban ensembles because of their widespread popularity. Similarly, there are other styles of non Afro Cuban origin included in the Less Frequently Played Styles section that are also played in the Afro Cuban genre.
When playing Afro Cuban rhythms and or music without other percussionists, the drummer takes the place of the traditional Afro Cuban percussion section. That section usually consists of a Conga player (conguero), a timbale player (timbalero), and a bongo bell player; hand percussion instruments such as guiro, claves, and maracas are also often included. An understanding of the rhythms played on these instruments allows one drummer to assume the role of many percussionists. The drum set is a modern addition to the Afro Cuban percussion section. When other percussionists are present, the drum set rhythms are often stripped down or replaced by alternate rhythms to avoid duplicating the parts of other percussionists. When playing alone, the drum set player will assume the responsibility for all the percussion parts, increasing the demand for a high level of limb independence on the drum kit.
For additional information about Afro Cuban genre and rhythms, perhaps the most comprehensive drum set book is Afro Cuban Rhythms for Drumset, by Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner. For further information on Afro Cuban and Salsa history, development, and the roles of other instruments, refer to The Salsa Guidebook for Piano and Ensemble, by Rebeca Mauleon. Any music including pioneer drummers percussionists such as Tito Puente, Orestes Vilato, Walfredo Reyes Sr., Ignacio Berroa, Jose "Changuito" Quintana and modern day drummers and percussionists such as Horacio Hernandez, Robby Ameen, Alex Acuna, Pete Escovedo and family including, Sheila E. , Paul van Wageningen and Walfredo Reyes Jr. will be a good introduction to the sounds of Afro Cuban music and drumming.
By Eric Starg. Eric has played on many drum sets from vertically all drum brands starting from Ludwig Drums and Rogers Drums all the way to todays Pearl Drums. Eric is an active member of Drum Solo Artist where he is answering drum related questions, and helping drummers with tips and advices.