Practice Pad LessonsThis lesson focuses on playing a bell pattern from Cuba on the drum set in a few different ways. The pattern in Ex. 1 was originally created for the style of Cuban music called Son Montuno. It is used in the mambo — hence its nickname, “mambo rhythm” — and is also commonly found in salsa and Latin jazz. Pay close attention to the accent pattern, as it gives depth and style to the rhythm.

The mambo pattern is most commonly played on the bell of the ride cymbal or on a cowbell. It is complementary to another Cuban rhythm, the clave (Ex. 2). We can create a nice two-three clave groove by playing the mambo pattern on a cowbell and the clave as a cross-stick on the snare drum. Add the bass drum on the & of 2 and on the 4 in both measures while keeping quarter-notes on the hi-hat (Ex. 3). To play the same groove in three-two clave, start the phrase on measure two (Ex. 4).

You can create another great groove by keeping the mambo pattern and your feet the same while playing the snare drum on the 2, either as a backbeat or crosstick, and hitting the mounted tom on the 4 & (Ex. 5). To challenge yourself, replace the quarter-notes on your hi-hat with the clave (Ex. 6). Remember that each pattern can be started on measure two for a three-two clave direction. 


For a funky variation, add a backbeat on the snare drum on the 3 in measure one, and the & of 2 in measure two. Notice that both of these hits line up with the clave rhythm. Now, keep everything else the same but change the bass drum part in measure two to hit on the 3 and 4 (Ex. 7). Again, for added challenge, you can change the hi-hat part to clave (Ex. 8).

BRIAN ANDRES performs with numerous Latin, Caribbean, and African ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads the critically acclaimed Latin jazz group The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel.  He is a Bosphorus Cymbals artist and a Regional Artist Endorser for Sakae Drums. 

Video Lesson: Four-Note Foundation for Afro-Caribbean Music


Afro-Caribbean Lesson: Cascara And Rumba Clave Fusion