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Encyclopedia > Conga
A pair of congas
A pair of congas

The conga is a tall, narrow, single-headed Cuban drum of African origin, probably derived from the Congolese Makuta drums or Sikulu drums commonly played in Mbanza Ngungu, Congo. A person who plays conga is called a "conguero". Conga may refer to: Conga, a drum Conga music Conga Line, a dance This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... Image File history File links Congas. ... Image File history File links Congas. ... Bass drum made from wood, rope, and cowskin A drum is a musical instrument in the percussion group that can be large, technically classified as a membranophone. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... The Sikulu is a tall, narrow, single-unit drum commonly found in Bas-Congo province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ...

Although ultimately derived from African drums made from hollowed logs, the Cuban conga is staved, like a barrel. These drums were probably made from salvaged barrels originally.

They were used both in Afro-Caribbean religious music and as the principal instrument in Rumba. Congas are now very common in Latin music, including salsa music, as well as many other forms of American popular music. Afro-Caribbean may refer to: the British Afro-Caribbean community other members of the African diaspora in or from the Carribean This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... In Cuba, Rumba is a generic term covering a variety of musical rhythms and associated dances. ... Latin American music, or the music of Latin America, is sometimes called Latin music. ... Salsa music is a Latin musical genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos. ... Popular music is music belonging to any of a number of musical styles that are accessible to the general public and are disseminated by one or more of the mass media. ...

Most modern congas have a staved wooden or fiberglass shell, and a screw-tensioned drumhead. They are usually played in sets of two to four with the fingers and palms of the hand. Typical congas stand approximately 75 cm from the bottom of the shell to the head.

The drums may be played while seated. Alternatively, the drums may be mounted on a rack or stand to permit the player to play while standing.

Because congas are an understudied instrument, opinions vary on the names of the drums. Although they originated in Cuba, their incorporation into the popular and folk music of other countries has resulted in diversification of terminology for the instruments and the players. A sampling of current conga websites finds the following:

  • Ben F. Jacoby's Introduction to the Conga Drum holds that the drums are called congas in English, but tumbadoras in Spanish. The drums, in order of size from largest to smallest, are the tumba, conga, quinto, the rare requinto, and the side-strap mounted ricardo.
  • The Conga Page at Rhythm Web agrees with the congas vs. tumbadoras terminology.
  • Music of Puerto Rico refers to the drums only as congas, but gives the names as tumba for the largest, niño for the smallest, and does not provide names for the two middle drums.
  • Alex Pertout's The Conga Drum: an Introduction points out that the names for the individual drums vary even in Cuba, and gives the names of three drums: tumbadora (largest), conga or segundo (middle), and quinto (smallest).
  • The Glossary Of Latin Music Terms agrees with tumba / conga / quinto, but defines the extra super quinto drum, smaller than the quinto. The term tres golpes may also be used for the conga.
  • Artdrum.com's History of Conga Drums also agrees with the terms tumba / conga / quinto, but allows the synonyms segundo (for conga) and tumbadora or salidor (for tumba).
  • Poncho Sanchez, in his Conga Cookbook, added a drum below the tumba, which he called the supertumba.

Conga players are called congueros, while rumberos refers to those who dance following the path of the players. The term conga was popularized in the 1950s, when Latin music swept the United States. Cuban son and New York jazz fused together to create what was then termed mambo, but later became known as salsa. In that same period, the popularity of the Conga Line helped to spread this new term. Synonyms (in ancient Greek syn συν = plus and onoma όνομα = name) are different words with similar or identical meanings. ... CD cover for Poncho Sanchezs Latin Soul Poncho Sanchez (born October 30, 1951) is a Latin jazz artist, salsa singer, band leader and conguero (conga player). ... Latin American music, or the music of Latin America, is sometimes called Latin music. ... Son is a style of Cuban music which originated in the second half of the 19th century in the eastern province of Oriente. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... Mambo is a Cuban musical form and dance style. ... Salsa music is a Latin musical genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ...

Desi Arnaz also played a role in the popularization of conga drums. However, the drum he played (which everyone called a conga drum at the time) was similar to the type of drum known as boku used in his hometown, Santiago de Cuba. Desi Arnaz (born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III) (March 2, 1917 – December 2, 1986) was a Cuban musician, actor, comedian and television producer. ...

The word conga came from the rhythm la conga used during carnaval (carnival) in Cuba. The drums used in carnaval could have been referred to as tambores de conga since they played the rhythm la conga, and thus translated into English as conga drums.


Playing the Congas


There are five basic strokes:

  • Open tone: played with the four fingers near the rim of the head, producing a clear resonant tone with a distinct pitch.
  • Muffled tone: like the open tone, is made by striking the drum with the four fingers, but holding the fingers against the head to muffle the tone
  • Bass tone: played with the full palm on the head. It produces a low muted sound.
  • Slap: most difficult technique producing a loud clear "popping" sound (when played at fast and short intervals is called floreo, played to instill emotion in the dancer).
  • Touch: as implied by the name, this tone is produced by just touching the fingers or heel of the palm to the drum head. It is possible to combine the a touch of the palm with a touch of the fingers in a maneuver called heel-toe, which can be used to produce the conga equivalent of drumrolls.

Also, to bend the pitch of the conga, a "conguero" sometimes uses his elbow to shift around on and apply pressure to different parts of the head; this causes the note to change. This is not a traditional stroke, but it is common in modern salsa and rumba. Portamento is a musical term currently used to mean pitch bending or sliding, and in 16th century polyphonic writing refers to a type of musical ornamentation. ...


Afro-Cuban and Puerto Rican

There are various rhythms for the conga, the most well-known being the tumbao. The tumbao rhythm is as follows: 1-2-3 1-2-3 1-2. Both of the 1-2-3's are played using muffled tones, and the 1-2 is played using open tones. This rhythm is commonly played on 1 to 3 congas, but has no true limit for the amount used. The tumbao is the most common rhythm in Salsa, Latin Jazz, Rumba, Chachacha, Mambo, and other similar Cuban or Puerto Rican styles. Some songs that include the tumbao or slight variations of the rhythm are: Polish reegee group from wroclaw ...

Countless other songs use this rhythm. Tito Puente, Sr. ... Willie Colón (born 28 April 1950) is a Puerto Rican-American salsa musician. ... Rubén Blades (born July 16, 1948) is a Panamanian salsa singer, songwriter, actor and politician. ... Andrés Montañez (born 1942), better known as Andy Montañez, is a famous Salsa singer from Puerto Rico. ... Raymond Ayala (born on February 3, 1977 in Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico), known artistically as Daddy Yankee is a successful Latin Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican reggaeton recording artist. ... Ramón Mongo Santamaría (April 7, 1922 – February 1, 2003) was an Afro-Cuban drummer. ... Afro-Cuban All-Stars is a Cuban band led by Juan de Marcos González (formerly drummer for Sierra Maestra). ... Omara Portuondo (born October, 1930) is a Cuban singer. ... This article doesnt deal with the tomatillo Tomatito (little tomato)s real name is José Fernández Torres (b. ... Bobby Rivas is an extremely respected artist of the salsa of El Salvador. ... Sidestepper is a Colombian band formed by English DJ/producer Richard Blair. ... Richie Ray a. ... Bobby Cruz (born February 1, 1937 in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico) - salsa singer and religious minister. ... Spanish Harlem Orchestra is a Latin dance music orchestra in the United States founded by Aaron Levinson and Oscar Hernandez. ... Oscar DLeón Oscar DLeón (b. ...

There is also the bolero rhythm, which goes 1-2-3 1-2 1-2-3. Being very similar to the tumbao, it involves a minimum of two congas and can be heard on: The bolero is a type of dance and musical form. ...

More complex rhythms can be heard in the music of Santeria and Abakua rituals, many of which also apply to the bata drums, such as Guarapachangueo and Chacharo-kafun. In Cuba, variants of Guaguanco, Bembe, and Abakua change from province to province, so there is no true stating to what is or isn't correct. The Buena Vista Social Club was a members club in Havana, Cuba that held dances and musical activities, becoming a popular location for musicians to meet and play during the 1940s. ... Introducing. ... Andrea Bocelli (born 22 September 1958) is a renowned Italian singer. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Lukumí or Regla de Ocha, most widely known as Santeria, is a set of related religious systems that fuse Catholic beliefs with traditional Yorùbá beliefs. ... Reenactment of an Abakuá ritual performed by members of the Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, showing symbols and dress typical of Abakuá ceremonies Abakua or Abakuá is an Afro-Cuban mens initiatory fraternity, or secret society, which originated from fraternal associations in the Cross River region of southeastern... Bata may refer to: In places: Bata, Afghanistan, a place in Afghanistan Bata, Burgas Province, a place in Burgas Province, Bulgaria Bata, Pazardzhik Province, a village in Bulgaria Bata, Equatorial Guinea, a city Bata, Arad, a location in Romania BaÅ¥a Canal, a canal in the Czech Republic People with...


The merengue rhythm, used in orchestral merengue, goes 1 2-1-2. It can also be heard as 1-2-1-2 1-2-1-2-1-2. Essentially, it is the rhythm of the tambora applied to conga. This can be heard on Elvis Crespo's Suavemente and Grupo Mania's Me Miras y Te Miro. Originally, this rhythm was derived from the trap drumming of African slaves from various animist religions. Merengue can mean either: A style of music from Hispainolia based from either Domininican or Haitian origin [1][2]  ; see merengue music See also Méringue, style of music. ... Tambora, as a place name, may refer to: Mount Tambora, a volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa. ... Elvis Crespo Elvis Crespo (born July 30, 1971 in New York, New York) is a Puerto Rican Merengue singer. ... Grupo Mania is a Puerto Rican Merengue group, being one of the most famous groups to come off the island because of their dedication to a style where Dominican groups are predominant. ...

In merengue tipico the rhythm is usually more complex and less standardized; it can range from simply hitting the conga on a fourth beat to playing full patterns that mark the time. This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

South American

The cumbia rhythm, simple and slowly played, goes 1-2-2-1, also heard as 1-2-1-2. It can be heard in Fito Olivares's Mosaico Fiestero and La Cumbia Sampuesana y La Cumbia Cienaguera by Ancieto Molino y Los Sabaneros. Cumbia is originally a Colombian folk dance and dance music and is Colombias representative national dance and music along with vallenato. ...

Other Genres

There are many other kinds of rhythms for the conga. It is constantly applied in new genres of music, therefore taking up the rhythms of that specific style, such as punta, reggaeton, Brazilian forms such as samba and bossa nova, and even reggae and country music. Punta is a type of music found primarily in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua. ... Reggaeton (also spelled Reggaetón, and known as Reguetón and Reggaetón in Spanish) is a form of urban music which became popular with Latin American (or Latino) youth during the early 1990s and spread over the course of 10 years to North American, European, Asian, and Australian audiences. ... For other uses, see Samba (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Bossa nova (disambiguation). ... Reggae is a music genre developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ...

Tuning the Congas

Conga drums are tunable to different notes. The original drums were tuned by adjusting knots and tension ropes on the drumhead, or, where the drum-heads were tacked or nailed to the top of the shell, by careful heating of the head. Modern congas use a screw-and-lug, tension head system which makes them easier to tune (or detune).

As was discussed above, terminology for the drums varies. Here, the naming system used is a composite of those mentioned before with those currently in use by major conga manufacturers. The drums are discussed in order from largest to smallest; the sizes of the drumheads given vary considerably by manufacturer, model, and style.

  • The supertumba can be as large as 14 inches across (35.5 cm).
  • The tumba is typically 12 to 12.5 inches across (30.5 to 31.8 cm).
  • The conga is typically 11.5 to 12 inches across (29.2 to 30.5 cm).
  • The quinto is typically around 11 inches across (about 28 cm).
  • The requinto can be smaller than 10 inches across (24.8 cm).
  • The ricardo can be as small as 9 inches across (22.9 cm). Since this drum is typically played while hanging from a shoulder strap, it is considerably shorter and narrower than a traditional conga.

Tuning Systems

Congas, being percussive instruments, do not have to be tuned to any particular note in purely percussive settings. However, when playing with harmonic instruments, they may be tuned to specific notes. Generally congas are tuned using the open tone (see above). In music, there are two common meanings for tuning: Tuning practice, the act of tuning an instrument or voice. ... Harmony is the use and study of pitch simultaneity, and therefore chords, actual or implied, in music. ...

In general, the particular note will depend on the make, model, and size of the conga drum. The drum should be tuned so that the bass tone resonates, the open tone rings, and the slaps pierce through the musical mix. If the tuning is too loose, the bass and slap tones will sound "flabby"; too tight, and the drums will sound unnatural and "pinched." With a single drum, it is difficult to go wrong with tightening the drum until it makes a pleasing sound.

When two or more drums are used, however, there is much variation on which two notes are chosen. With two drums, it is not unusual to find them tuned a perfect fourth apart (the same interval used in "Here Comes the Bride"). The perfect fourth or diatessaron, abbreviated P4, is one of two musical intervals that span four diatonic scale degrees; the other being the augmented fourth, which is one semitone larger. ... The Bridal Chorus from the opera Lohengrin, by German composer Richard Wagner, is the standard march played for the brides entrance at most formal weddings in the United States and at many weddings thoughout the Western world. ...

Having three drums (typically the tumba, conga, and quinto) invites experimentation and individual customization. Some congueros like using the intervals of a major chord (e.g. F, A, C); some use the second inversion of a major chord (eg. G, C, E); and some prefer a major second between the quinto and conga, with a perfect 4th descending to the tumba. Raul Rekow of Santana often plays five conga drums and choses to tune them to the opening phrase of a Latin tune he likes. In music theory, the term interval describes the difference in pitch between two notes. ... Generally speaking, a major chord is any chord which has a major third above its root, as opposed to a minor chord which has a minor third. ... In music theory, the word inversion has several meanings. ... A major second is one of three commonly occuring musical intervals that span two diatonic scale degrees; the others being the minor second, which is one semitone smaller, and the augmented second, which is one semitone larger. ...

Famous Conga Players

Chano Pozo(January 7 1915 in Havana, Cuba-December 2, 1948 in New York, USA) was a percussionist with a musical background from Cuban religious cults. ... Changuito (José Luis Quintana) (January 18, 1948) is a Cuban percussionist. ... Giovanni Hidalgo (born March 9, 1963, in San Juan, Puerto Rico) is a musician who is considered by many to be one of the top percussionists in the world today. ... Armando Peraza playing a bongo in London, 1999. ... Candido Camero (1921 - ) is Cuban percussionist (mainly conga and bongo) who backed many a jazz act since the 1950s. ... Jose Vazquez-Cofresi (born on September 18, 1975 in Biloxi, Mississippi) to Puerto Rican) parents, is a noted conguero, composer, and bandleader of salsa. ... CD cover for Poncho Sanchezs Latin Soul Poncho Sanchez (born October 30, 1951) is a Latin jazz artist, salsa singer, band leader and conguero (conga player). ... Steven Randall Randy Jackson on October 29, 1961 in Gary, Indiana) is an African-American singer and musician, a member of the Jacksons, and is the youngest son in the Jackson family. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Pedro Martinez warming up in right field of Fenway Park before a game, June 22, 2004. ... Ray Barretto a. ... Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez performing with The Mars Volta Marcellus Rodriguez-Lopez is a multi-instrumentalist musician. ...


  • Dworsky, Alan; Betty Sansby (1995). Conga Drumming: A Beginner's Guide to Playing with Time. Dancing Hands. ISBN 0-9638801-0-1. 
  • Sanchez, Poncho; Chuck Silverman (2002). Poncho Sanchez' Conga Cookbook. Cherry Lane Music. ISBN 1-57560-363-2. 

PDF is an abbreviation with several meanings: Portable Document Format Post-doctoral fellowship Probability density function There also is an electronic design automation company named PDF Solutions. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 188th day of the year (189th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also

  • Caribbean music
  • La Conga Nights (1940 film)
  • Kickin' the Conga Round (1942 animation)

The music of the Caribbean is a diverse grouping of musical genres. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Conga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1250 words)
The conga is a tall, narrow, single-headed Cuban drum of African origin, probably derived from the Congolese Makuta drums.
Modern congas have a staved wooden or fiberglass shell, and a screw-tensioned drumhead.
Congas, being percussive instruments, do not have to be tuned to any particular note in purely percussive settings.
Conga Line - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (233 words)
The conga is a Latin American carnival march that became popular in the United States in the 1930s and 1950s.
Others say that Conga was not slave-chain dance, but the dancing and chanting during Easter when the “Congos” (name after the African country named Congo) or Congoleans during the festivities, followed the processions of the Virgin Mary that usually originated in different towns to a church.
The name “Conga,” as it is refers to the Cuban drum was a name given in the United States, rather than its original name.
  More results at FactBites »



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