An Introduction to Latin Music: Cha-cha-chá History

Its slow tempo and steady 4/4 metre mean that cha-cha-chá is often the logical first step not only for drummers looking to adapt Latin rhythms to the drum kit, but also for beginner percussionists. However, as with any style of music, if we want to play cha-cha-chá authentically, we must have a good grounding in its history and background rather than just learning the rhythms themselves. This article will cover some of that history while giving an insight into the styles that preceded cha-cha-chá, as well as recommending some important bands or musicians who played a key role in the … Read more

Common Injuries Suffered by Drummers and how to Avoid Them

Learning a musical instrument is a physical activity that requires both physical and mental exertion. Different instruments utilise different limbs, muscle groups, and individual muscles, and it’s important to be aware of this when approaching your instrument. For example, a pianist who focuses on the fingers, but neglects the wrists, will probably play with a stiff technique and could develop wrist strain. The same is true for drummers, though the muscles groups we use to create sound with our instruments are different. This article will assess the key muscle groups utilised by drummers before looking at how, through use of … Read more

Beginner Rock and Pop Drum Course Rationale

Designing the beginner rock and pop drum course was a task that required a lot of planning, as well as trial and error to create something that takes students through all the key aspects of drumming that I feel every drummer should know. This rationale will explain the theory behind how the this course is designed and what sort of skills students will have developed upon completion of the course. Why Rock and Pop? First, let’s clarify that by discussing rock and pop, we’re also including a number of subgenres which fall within this bracket such as hip-hop, R&B, blues, … Read more

5 Common Mistakes Made by Beginner Drummers and How to Avoid Them

Throughout our lives as musicians, we learn from our mistakes, whether they be small simple errors when playing a certain piece, or a more deep routed weakness in a fundamental skill such as pulse or counting. The best musicians are the ones who are able to learn from their own mistakes. However, there are certain common mistakes which are easy to avoid, yet still seem to trip up most beginner drummers. This article will outline some of these common mistakes, many of which I commited personally as a beginner, and look at how they can be avoided, and why doing … Read more

An Introduction to Salsa Drumming: Rhythms and Applications

Now that we have a basic understanding of the history of salsa music, we will take a more practical approach to how it is played. We will trace the roots of salsa back to its son origins, looking at the fundamental salsa rhythms that came from this more folkloric Cuban style, before discussing how and when the style became popular. We’ll also discuss how the drum kit can be incorporated into a style of music in which it isn’t traditionally played. Salsa and its Son Rhythmic Foundations Salsa has many similarities with Cuban son music. In fact, the relationship between … Read more

An Introduction to Latin Music: Salsa History

No discussion of Latin music is complete without the mention of salsa. Salsa is one of the most influential and far reaching genres of Latin music, with huge popularity not only throughout Latin America and the United States, but also across Europe and the rest of the world. Skyrocketing to prominence in New York City in the 60s, at its core salsa is a fusion of traditional Cuban – predominantly son but also chachacha, pilon, and guaracha amongst others – and Puerto Rican styles such as plena and bomba with North American pop, rock, and jazz music. This article will … Read more

Beginner Drum Kit: Setting up the Drum Kit

The day you receive your first instrument is one of the most exciting moments many musicians experience. I received my first drum kit, an old red Hohner Percussion (taken over by Sonor Drums), for my 8th birthday, and having spent my early years listening to the rock bands that my parents introduced me to, I was in awe of this amazing instrument. I wanted to be just like Roger Taylor from Queen or Nico McBrain from Iron Maiden and this instrument would allow me–at least in my 8 year old brain–to fulfill that dream. I knew nothing about how to … Read more

Cuban Music: Rumba, An Introduction

Cuban music can be broadly categorised into two groups: rumba and son. As the names suggest, rumba styles share the rumba clave in common, whereas son styles make use of the less syncopated son clave. Rumba is not one single style and the term is used to refer to three main subgenres (guaguancó, columbia, and yambú) all of which are Cuban musical styles of direct African descent. While these three subgenres are all classed as rumba, they are unique styles of music that must be approached as such. A similar parallel can be drawn with the term “pop,” which is … Read more

A Guide To Cuban Music: Instrumentation and Clave

The caribbean island of Cuba is a nation with a rich musical heritage. This is largely due to the rich diversity of its people and the vast amounts of migration that characterise its history. The mixture of indigenous peoples, Spanish settlers, and the African slaves transported across the Atlantic have given Cuban music a unique voice, a voice that has in more recent times been exported the world over. While there are many different styles of Cuban music, the majority share one thing in common: clave. Clave is at once an instrument, a specific rhythm, and a rhythmic concept that … Read more

A Guide to Drum Kit Notation for Latin Music: Bossa Nova

Bossa Nova (translated as “new wave” or “new trend”) is a style of music that became popular globally during the 1960s. While it was popular in Brazil to a lesser extent in the 50s, it wasn’t until Stan Getz and João Gilberto collaborated for their groundbreaking album Getz/Gilberto in 1963 that the style gained international recognition. At its core, bossa nova is a fusion of Brazilian samba and American jazz music. It takes the rhythmic ideas present in samba while adopting much of the harmonic and melodic vocabulary as well as the song forms of jazz music. Our previous article explored … Read more