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BY JOE SMYTH | FROM THE FALL 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM!

practice pad lesson drum set with blue backgroundHere we have a group of grooves that are often called “mambo rock.” Mambo rock is less about traditional mambo and more about straight eighth-note rock rhythms. The connection point is that the left hand plays the conga “slap” of the tumbao rhythm on snare on beat 2, and the 4 & open conga sound of the tumbao on a tom (Ex. 1).

drum groove mambo practice pad ex1

In Ex. 2, you can move the tom part to other drums to create more interest.

drum groove mambo practice pad ex2

Playing rim-clicks rather than the snare (Ex. 3) gives a different intensity to the groove.

drum groove mambo practice pad ex3


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In Ex. 4, swap the positions of the snare and tom parts for more of a “surf beat” feel.

drum groove mambo practice pad ex4

By varying the bass drum part, you can explore the possibilities for this groove. Ex. 5 is a groove I use for a “trop rock” feel.

drum groove mambo practice pad ex5

In Ex. 6, try varying the right-hand cymbal part to change the groove.

drum groove mambo practice pad ex6

Experiment with right hand sounds with all these examples: ride cymbal, cymbal bell, cowbell, or even rim of the floor tom. Add the mambo rock groove to your toolbox and see where it takes you.

JOE SMYTH is a founding member of the award-winning Sawyer Brown band, touring the world for the past 37 years. He also teaches drums and percussion at Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee.

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