Cha Cha Drum Set Style Essentials
Cha Cha Drum Style is the first in the series: Essential Latin Drum Set Beats. Here are simple, stylistically accurate and essential Latin rhythms and patterns to play Cha Cha on drum set.
Over the years, I collected a bunch of books that talk about playing various Latin styles on drum set. I would go from book to book searching for answers and ideas. There was some agreement. But mostly disagreement about what is correct for each Latin style. The challenge is to try and duplicate the patterns traditionally played by 3 Bateristas (drummers): Timbalero (timbales), Conguero (congas) and Bongocero (bongos).
The Cha Cha dance originated from Cuba
The dance gained popularity around the 1950’s. The music strongly focuses on the first downbeat and is less syncopated than other Afro Cuban dances such as the Mambo. I frequently hear the dance being taught by saying, “One, Two, Cha Cha Cha”. However, be advised: “One, Two, Three And Four” is NOT the correct rhythmic pattern. That was strongly pointed out to me, early in my career, by dancers when I played for a ballroom dance club.
It has a characteristic repetitive quarter note pulse and does not have a defined clave. See: Afro Cuban Clave Essentials. The bell pattern is normally played on a small high-pitched cowbell. See: Basic Multipurpose Cowbells and Cowbell Recommendations for Drum Set. The style is derived from the Afro Cuban Salsa genre and retains an accented Tumbao bass line. It remains a popular ballroom dance style. You should limit yourself to playing ONLY the (with Conguero) patterns when playing with a Conga player (Conguero). That is because many of these drum set patterns try to duplicate what the conga player would be playing.