The Little Drum and Percussion Page
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Timbales basically consists of two drums and two cowbells although there can be more drums and extra bells, blocks and cymbals in a set up. The drums have single heads and typical sizes would be 12" and 14" by about 7" deep. One long cowbell (the Mambo or Timbale Bell) and one short cowbell (the Cha Cha Bell) for distinction in tone and pitch.
The right hand plays a pattern on the side of the hi drum called Cascara. The left hand alternates between an open stroke on beat two and a muffled stroke on beat four, on the lo drum
The Cascara pattern may be played on a cowbell in parts of an arrangement.
In a small rhythm section that doesn't have a Clave player, the Timbalist may be expected to play the Clave on a Woodblock at the same time as the Cascara pattern.
Cascara with 3-2 Clave
Cascara with 2-3 Clave
In a Mambo arrangement the right hand can play the Cascara pattern and change to the Mambo pattern on a cymbal bell during the 'Mambo' section.
Mambo with 2-3 Clave
Mambo with 3-2 Clave
The Abanico is an important riff which serves to introduce different sections of a song. A common abanico is a seven or nine stroke roll ending in a rim shot
There is also a pre-emptive pick up note that can be played on beat three, three and a half,four or beat four and a half of the bar leading in to a rhythmic change in the section of the song. This is played as a rim shot.