Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bongo Drum

Bongo drums are a Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of single-headed, open-ended drums attached to each other. The drums are of different size: the larger drum is called in Spanish the hembra (female) and the smaller the macho (male). It is most often played by hand and is especially associated in Cuban music with a steady patter or ostinato of eighth-notes known as the martillo or "hammer".

The Atlantic slave trade brought the antecedent of the bongos to Cuba from Africa. The history of bongo drumming can be traced to the Cuban music styles known as salsa, changui, bolero, and son, which first developed in eastern Cuba (Oriente Province) in the late 19th century. Some of the first recordings of bongos can be heard performed by the groups Sexteto Habanero and Septeto Nacional. They have become a popular instrument among soundtrack writers for movies and television.

Bongos are typically made of wood, metal or composite materials, attached by a thick piece of wood. The drum head can be made of animal skin or synthetic. Some bongoceros prefer the sound of X-ray film as the head on the macho. Initially, bongo had tacked-on heads which were tensioned with moisture and heat. By the 1940s, metal tuning lugs developed to facilitate easier tuning.

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