A video tutorial by musicians for musicians
Virtuous percussionist, Giovanni “Meñenguito” Hidalgo, proves his talent in the video tutorial entitled Conga Virtuoso. In this masterclass, you will learn about rhythm, technique and improvisation to develop your percussive talents.
Throughout this video, you will observe the legendary Maestro Hidalgo accompanied by Changuito, Ignacio Berroa, Ray Romero, Eric Figueroa, John Benitez, Danilo Perez and David Sanchez issuing instructions in both languages (English and Spanish).
Also, you will be able to recognize the Tumbadora as a non-handed percussion instrument, that is to say, you will learn to play the tumbadora like a right-handed musician even as a lefty and the Maestro Hidalgo with more than three decades of experience teaches you that.
The legendary and multi-talented Puerto Rican musician, Giovanni Hidalgo, a outstanding percussionist, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 22, 1963.
Today he is known as one of the best congueros of his generation in the world.
And quite possibly one of the fastest of all known congueros. Through International Salsa Magazine, I introduce a tutorial method where Maestro Hidalgo gives a master class on rhythms, technique and improvisation; Method that, by the way, you can get in full on the YouTube channel entitled: “Conga Virtuoso”; which is bilingual in English and Spanish and is distributed by Warner Bros. Publications; it is notable that, in the tutorial, Giovanni Hidalgo is left-handed and the examples are written for people who use the right hand.
The tumbadoras as protagonists
Examples of three tumbadoras, including the position of the drums can be played the same way, even if one is right-handed.
Evolution of the tumbao: Around 1940, the bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez began to incorporate a tumbadora (conga), a bongo, a bell, two trumpets, a piano, and a tres (derived from Spanish guitar, but with three double strings and triple voices three).
In the late 1940s, Frank “Machito” Grillo also added the tumbadora to the Afro Cubanos Orchestra, thus achieving the percussion section composed of bongos, tumbadora, and timbales. At that time, the “conguero” performed with a single drum.
Different sounds were produced by dry beats, muffled beats (mute), open tones and deep tone (created with the palm of your hand).
Giovanni Hidalgo explains all these sounds in this YouTube video “Conga Virtuoso”. As Giovanni says, the traditional way of playing only with a tumbadora comes from 40s.
Although he begins almost all examples in lifting (with upbeats) on beat 4, the beginner should know that he starts on beat 1 in most musical situations, without lifting.
Another factor to remember is to use an open tone at the beginning of the first bar, as Giovanni demonstrated by Giovanni.
This initial open tone helps to “anchor” and synchronize the rhythm section in the first measure.
This initial open tone helps to “anchor” and synchronize the rhythm section in the first bar.
It is eliminated by repeating the pattern and replaced by a left clap (P). Caption: O = open tone. P = with the palm of your hand, which is similar to the bass sound. B = deep sound (with the palm of your hand). S = dry. T = with the tip of your fingers. M = “muffled” note. It is accomplished by pressing the leather down with the same hand (cover). Two tumbadoras: the first step in the evolution of the tumbao was to perform with a drum.
The second phase incorporated the use of two tumbadoras. It was during this stage that the art of playing the tumbadora upgraded to a higher level.
Some of pioneers of the style with two tumbadoras are: Carlos “Patato” Valdez, Mongo Santamaría, Cándido Camero, Tata Güines, Francisco Aguabella, Armando Peraza, and Ray Romero. In the examples, Giovanni plays a “seca´´ (term to refer to a dry sound) in the later half of the third beat of the first bar.
This is a light “seca´´ as opposed to the most pronounced. By adding the bass: This is a modern approach to how you play the basic tumbao with two tumbadoras.
This pattern uses the bass sound in the fourth bar. Giovanni lifts the tumbao minimally with his legs while playing the bass sound in the fourth bat. He lifts the drum and lets the sound out of its lower part. He also adds the timbales and bongos: This section demonstrates how the tumbadoras, the timbales and the bongos work together in a section.
The pattern for the tumbadoras is the tumbao with variations combining both ancient and modern styles, as Giovanni mentioned. The rhythm of timbales is based on a shell pattern played on the cáscara (the sides of the timbales).
The bongo drum plays the basic pattern called “martillo” with improvised phrases called “chime”
The bongo drum plays the basic pattern called “martillo” (the most important bongo pattern in Afro-Cuban music, which means “hammer” in English) with improvised phrases called “chime”.
When repeated, the first open tone is replaced by a left clap (P). Example of bongos: “Little” Ray Romero starts chiming immediately.
These phrases must also comply with the clave. The first example is the basic “martillo”, which is the basic function of the bongo drum in a section. The second example is a transcript of the chimes played by Ray Romero. Basic Martillo: T = fingertip. TH = thumb side. O = open tone on the bass drum (female).
Pattern for timbales: the changuito plays a shell pattern on paila (sides of the timbales) in a 2-3 clave.
In addition, he has a bass drum to which is added a pattern as would a drummer. The fingers from the left hand play the “Ghosts” notes while the right hand plays the bass drum. He also plays an open tone with the third finger from the left hand on the bass drum (female) in the first bar. This creates a melody line between the bass drum and the “hembra”. Also, Giovanni Hidalgo explains the rhythms from Puerto Rico, such as: jíbara, quás, plena, bomba, yubá and Dutch music. To conclude, we invite you to watch the videos “Conga Virtuoso” by Maestro Giovanni Hidalgo in full, which will be very useful for both beginners and advancing musicians.
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