Songo – The Introduction of the Drum Set

Songo – The Introduction of the Drum Set

Last month we discussed a little about the Cha-cha drum set pattern and the fact that the drum set part comes from the conga, timbale, bongo, bells, etc. We touched on the fact that there are some latin styles that have the drum set as an original instrument in the line up. The Songo is an Afro-Cuban style that was developed in the 1970’s. Jose Luis Quintana ( “Changuito” ) and Juan Formell are credited for introducing the drum set as an “equal” to the other percussion instruments. Changuito and Juan are members of the group Los Van Van. Juan is a bassist. Changuito is a drummer/ percussionist/ conguero/ timbalero. In fact, Changuito has a number of videos and a book called, A Master’s Approach to Timbales. All worth checking out for multiple reasons, other than him being an incredible percussionist!

The Songo is influenced by rock, jazz, and funk and has a little more of a free feel to it. Songo also is a combination of Son and Rumba styles as well. It tends to be more free from repetition than some of the son styles of music and therefore is a bit more syncopated. The Songo is probably the most imitated Afro-Cuban style. Following is one of the many variations of a Songo drum set pattern.

The top notes on the staff are played on the hi hat. The next notes down are played on the snare drum as rim clicks. The very bottom notes are played on the bass drum. Also keep in mind that this pattern is written in 2-3 rumba clave so be able to start the pattern in the first and in the second measures. Keep in mind that there are several other variations that are spread across the entire drum set incorporating the toms, bell of the ride, side of the floor tom, hi hat operated with the foot, and different rhythms altogether. This is a great pattern to start with and get a feel for the idea of the groove. Have fun with it!

– Meg Thomas

Meg Thomas Bio
Meg Thomas Headshot B-W 3.5MBDrummer and percussionist Meg Thomas has performed in musical realms that range from rock to calypso, avant-garde to spoken word, Latin-jazz to punk, and dance ensembles to percussion ensembles. Her drum and percussion set-ups range from the traditional ideas to unique set-ups that incorporate a vast range of percussion instruments. She received her degree in Music from Millikin University and she founded and runs the Chicago Women’s Drumming Group. Meg is a Vic Firth Private Drum and Percussion Teacher and teaches lessons out of her studio in Chicago. She plays recording sessions, performs with an array of bands and ensembles, and has toured the U.S. and Europe. Meg won a Drummie in Drum! Magazine’s 2010 Drummie Awards as runner-up “Rising Star Percussionist,” was named “Musician of the Month” for January 2013 by the Chicago Music Guide, and is endorsed by Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Evans Drumheads, LP Percussion, PureSound Percussion, and Humes & Berg Cases.

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