traditional drum, used in Oriente (Cuba).
Native Amerindian people, living in the past in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Cuba and other West
Indies islands, before the Spanish conquest and at the beginning of the colonization,
which coincided with their extermination.
The tango congo rhythm is similar to the famous Argentinian tango, of which it is the
origin. This style of song develops in Cuba during the 20ties of the 20th century.
Recent popular figure of dance, in which the dancers vibrate in a frantic way, as if they
were shaked by an electric shock.
Since the beginning of the 90ties, this Cuban "salsa"
intermingled with funk and rap holds the first rank in Cuba and wins over a youth
beating about modernity. As soon as the the Iron Curtain was raised, Cuba discloses itself
to the world ; by developing its tourism and exporting its groups, the country succeeds in
giving timba a worldwide recognition.
Los Van Van and NG La Banda cleared the way ; then the new mixture was digested
and its various posibilities developed by groups like : Charanga
Habanera (which forced the rap component, displayed a provocative attitude and dared
critical lyrics) ; Paulito F.G. y su Elite ; Manolin El Médico de la Salsa ; Manolito y
su Trabuco ; Bamboleo ; ...
Juan Formell, leader of Los Van Van, one of the two most famous fathers of Cuban musical
modernity (the other is Chucho Valdes, leader of Irakere), was the pionner of the style. He never put up with the
Cuban music "annexation" by the USA, by its dilution in the generic term
"salsa" during the 70ties. So he lay heavily to impose the term
"timba" in 1997 and 1998.
José Luis Cortés "El Tosco" (The Boor), leader
of NG La Banda also fanned the torch. Timba suits him down to
the ground : this excellent musician, virtuoso flautist and exceptional arranger, sprung
from the best Cuban musical schools, has indeed a liking for the rude boys' style and for
the frequentation of ill fame streets : a pimp which would play Mozart concertos.
Timba, this erudite rascal, is like him : complex and flashy, refined and vulgar at the
same time. Its effectiveness is terrific for dancing, and it takes all its pungency in the
popular dance halls of Havana's barrios... where heat is : torrid ; the minds : heated by
rum and grass ; the bodies : sweating ; the rude boys' hands : wandering ; and the
bludgeons of the cops : trembling.
The equation is simple: take Black soldiers and give
them military drums, and at once the army begins to swing.
Thus were born the timbales on Cuban soil. Now released from their military obligations,
they are for a long time an essential part of the Latin music, although drums sometimes
replace them in some bands like NG La Banda. Some musicians
push them FORWARD the band, like the Master Tito Puente.
These drums are joined together by two, with one or more bells and some other accessories.
Sometimes, there is also a big bass drum, played by a pedal activated with the foot. The timbalero stands up while he plays, and strikes their skin with
long and light sticks. He uses all the possibilities of the instrument, sometimes striking
the metal part to produce rapid sounds during certain parts of the musical piece.
Few masters of timbales : Tito Puente ; Giovani Hidalgo
; Calixto Oviedo Mulenz (ex-NG La Banda) ; José Shine "
Changuito " Quintana (ex-Los Van Van).
This Cuban instrument, often present in rural musics
originating from Oriente (like son), looks like a small
guitar. It is provided with three doubled strings. The traditional tuning is A, D, F#, but
many other ways to tune it are used today : G, C, E ; or G, B, E.
The instrument, with its particular sound (a little shrillish, like a mandolin), is mainly
used today in traditional orchestras, in which dominate string instruments (guitar, double
bass, tres, sometimes cuatro) and
light percussions (claves, maracas, guďro, bongo). In general, the harmonic
role is devolved to the guitar, more powerful. Its often played in a monodic way,
note by note (punteado), and works in counter-point and improvisation. The importance of
tres is capital for the elegance of son, when it is played in " delay-anticipation
", i.e. in slight shift compared to the strict compass.
Three singers with guitars (or 2 guitars and maracas) singing boleros, sons, guarachas
and other songs : this formation was popularized during 20ties of the 20th century.
The trovador, singer being accompanied with his guitar, is an essential figure of Cuban
music. He popularized some forms, like the bolero in its first
ages (19th century). Some trovadores were composers of great talent, like the legendary Sindo Garay. In the 60ties of the 20th century, a revival of the
trovadores appears, with the advent of the nueva trova, with
great singers and composers like Pablo Milanés.
Drum used in Cuba, in particular in its Eastern area (Oriente)
; the term indicates also a dance, practiced with the sound of this instrument.
Other name of the conga.
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