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If you are serious about getting into Afro Cuban rhythms on drums I definitely recommend this book,

Afro-Cuban Rhythms For Drumset by Frank Malabe and Bob Weiner - Hit the link to purchase from Knock On Wood. There is a similar volume for Brazilian rhythms - Brazilian Rhythms For Drumset by Duduka Da Fonseca and Bob Weiner


Key to Drum Music used on this page



Mozambique is a great sounding Afro-Cuban rhythm that was popularised by, amongst others, Eddie Palmeiri in New York in the early 1960's. It is still used extensively today. Get the accents working to hear how the rhythm really pushes along. This example includes a basic pulse of one and three on the bass drum. Check out the Malabe and Weiner book for authentic bass drum variations.

Mozambique 1 Midi File

The element of this pattern that usually confounds people at first is the change from bar 1 to bar2. The first two bass drum notes both beat at the same time as a right handed cymbal note, but on beat 1 of the second bar the bass drum is on it's own, sandwiched between cymbal notes. If you address attention to this you should have no problem getting the pattern.

Then add the left hand. In these two examples the more traditional bass drum part (beat 3 of the first bar) is shown, but if you aren't so bothered about authenticity you can play the bass drum on 1 and 3 in both bars. This can be helpful in holding it all together.

Mozambique 2 Midi File

In the next pattern the tom toms are employed. Obviously, you could use the crossed stick for one section of the song, such as the verse, and the tom tom part, perhaps in the chorus of the song.

Mozambique 3 Midi File


Afro-Cuban 6/8 Feel

This is a completely different sounding rhythm with a distinctive feel. It is in 4/4 time but the rhythm is picked out of triplets for each of the four quarter note beats. You have to feel the triplet beats to convey the rhythm and its feel. 

This rhythm can take a while to master so here there are four parts written so you can build up to playing the complete rhythm. The first task is to master the cowbell (or cymbal) part played over the four quarter notes on the hi hat pedal. To assist you this basic part is written in the first bar each time. Get this together and it then only takes time to add the other parts and at the end of it you will be playing a four part polyrhythm. The basic part is also included in the midi files so if you may want to loop the second bar in your sequencer.

First is a variation which you will probably find easier to play as it features a crossed stick on the ONE beat. It gets a little harder when you have to leave this out in the succeeding examples..

Afro-Cuban 6/8 Feel 1 Midi File

Now try this crossed stick pattern which we will develop.

Afro-Cuban 6/8 Feel 2 Midi File

Now move some of the crossed stick beats to the tom toms.

Afro-Cuban 6/8 Feel 3 Midi File

Finally, add the bass drum. The pick up bass drum beat on FOUR AND can be optional.

Afro-Cuban 6/8 Feel 4 Midi File

At each stage you should concentrate on maintaining a rolling triplet feel which you could liken to two bars of 6/8 blues except that the more sophisticated pattern is played on the bell. It is also important to keep a steady beat with the hi hat foot. If that strays you will likely lose it.



E-mail    phil@littledrum.co.uk

All material on this site is copyright Phil Little 2001,