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Salsa: Ear Training

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Pulse-Based Rhythms: Extras

Bongó Bell Rhythm

Indicating Clave Orientation
The bongó bell rhythm can be played in a manner that indicates clave orientation. All it takes is the omission of the closed tone between the beats of the clave 2-side:


Figure 9.7. Bongó bell pattern indicating clave orientation

The small change renders that section of the pattern a literal interpretation of the clave 2-side beats, and thus holds true for both son clave and rumba clave (see later tutorial). If we vocalise the whole rhythm using "ki" for the closed tones and "gung" for the open tones, we would get (son clave beats in bold):

gung, ...-ki-...-gung, ...-ki-ki-gung, ...-ki-ki-gung, ...-ki-ki-

Maraca Rhythm

It would be irresponsible to suggest that the pulse-based patterns are the only ones interpreted on these instruments. Indeed they are not: a plethora of rhythms from all over Latin America are interpreted on bell, maracas and güiro - more than could be properly presented here.

Having said that, there is one other common pattern played on the maracas in salsa. It does not feature any gaps in the rhythm and as such does not indicate pulse:


Figure 9.8. Maraca rhythm: pulse and non-pulse patterns

Vocalising the whole rhythm using "chik" for the macho's high tones and "ah" for the hembra's low tones, we would get:


If the upbeats are accentuated by the macho in the dominant hand, the maracas add thickness to the percussion section while contributing a light rhythm groove. You should also note that the non-pulse rhythm is half the cycle time of the pulse rhythm, and thus gives the maraca player the option of adding more drive to the song's rhythm section by varying the attack.


1999 Salsa & Merengue Society