Latin for Drummies #04 Candombe on Drums

Candombe is the heritage of enslaved Africans in the Rio de la Plata area. Originally it was played with four drums made of barrels and leather as the drumhead. Nowadays, it comes with three handmade drums, but… how do you play Candombe on your drum set?.

Remember that the drum set is not an instrument developed in this part of the continent. Therefore, in order to play Candombe, we are going to need to identify which elements of traditional playing cannot escape interpretation.

First of all, let us remember the drums, what they play, and the relation with the “Madera” pattern and pulse.

How to read:

Now we are going to identify one or two elements of each drum.

From the Chico drum

The accented note played with the hand on every second sixteenth note.

From the Piano drum

There are two different elements. First, the open tone notes played with the stick that happens together with the second “Madera” note and between the fourth and fifth notes. Furthermore, the bass note is played with the hand, and the stick stays on the head in the first and third pulse.

From the Repique Drum

There are two different elements. First, the “Madera” pattern with all its variations and the last hand-played note in the fourth pulse.

Interpretation on the Drumset

Let us use one variation of the “Madera” pattern as a hi-hat ostinato:

Now, with the Chico drum, a note is placed in the second sixteenth note of the second pulse. Again, because it is a high-pitched note, we are going to play it on a snare drum.

In order to add the bass drum, look at the bass and the opened tone notes from the Piano drum:

Finally, with the Repique drum, let us use that high-pitched note placed in the fourth beat:

Here we have our first Candombe pattern. Let’s groove it!