Songo Drum Set Style Essentials

Songo Drum Style is the seventh in the series: Essential Latin Drum Set Beats. Over the years, I have collected a bunch of books that talked about playing various Latin styles on drum set. I kept going from one book to another searching for answers and ideas. There was some agreement. But mostly disagreement about what is authentic and 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). Here are simple, stylistically accurate and essential Latin rhythms and patterns to play Songo on drum set.

Songo Style on Drum Set

Songo drum style rhythmic patterns are drawn from various Afro Cuban musical styles. The ride hand plays a steady pulse on the ride cymbal bell or a cowbell. You should select an LP Songo Bell or use a Timbale, Mambo or Bongo Bell. See: Basic Multipurpose Cowbells and Cowbell Recommendations for Drum Set. The bass drum plays a syncopated Tumbao rhythm. And the snare drum fills in syncopated notes around the other parts to create a linear pattern. Although Songo is its own unique style, the grooves can be used in several other Afro Cuban styles. Finally, though not prominent, the Songo patterns are loosely based on a 2-3 Rumba Clave. See: Afro Cuban Clave Essentials

First Latin style originating from a drum set rhythm

Songo is a style of popular Cuban music. It was created by the group Los Van Van in the early 1970s. Songo incorporated rhythmic elements from folkloric rumba into popular dance music. Additionally, it was a significant departure from the Son Montuno/Mambo-based music which had dominated popular music in Cuba since the 1940s. Blas Egües was the first drummer in Los Van Van. But it was the band’s second drummer, José Luis Quintana “Changuito”, who developed Songo into the world-wide popularity it enjoys today.