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GUAGUANCO Afro-Cuban Rumba
The guaguanco is an Afro Cuban rhythm which forms part of the rumba family that also comprises yambu and columbia. There are several styles found throughout Cuba with the most influential being the 'Havana' (featured in this article) and 'Matanzas' styles. The 'Matanzas' style differs in the interpretation of the supporting drums; the tumbadora and segundo make use of variations in which they 'converse'.

The rhythm is usually performed with three drums; tumbadora, segundo and quinto, a pair of hardwood sticks that mark the 3/2 rumba clave rhythm known as claves and a hollowed piece of bamboo played with two sticks called cata. The names of the drums and stick parts vary throughout Cuba. The role of the drums calls for the tumbadora and segundo to carry the rhythm while the quinto interacts between the lead singer, supporting drums and backing singers utilising short phrases and at times two or four bar patterns. At a specified point in the arrangement the quinto is given a 'solo feature'. I had the opportunity to study with master percussionists Milton Cardona and John Amira (among others) in New York during my 1994 research tour and found that the parts presented here are the most common in use today. The parts are written in 3/2 clave direction.

Performance arrangement: Commence with claves, then low drum tumbadora (come in with an open tone on beat four), middle drum segundo (start with open tones on the 'two side of the clave'), catá and finally the high drum known as quinto.

key: O= Open Tone   P=Palm   F=Fingers   S=Slap   B=Bass









Quinto: 'Solo'

Specially recommended recordings featuring guaguanco are:
-Cuba; A Musical Anthology 
Various Artists  (Rounder CD1088)

Clave Y Guaguanco 
Songs & Dances  (Xenophile GLCD 4023)

Carlos Embale
Conjunto Guaguanco  (Areito LD 3428 LP)

Los Muñequitos de Matanzas & Papin Y Sus Rumberos
Guaguanco  (Antilla CD-565)

Los Muñequitos De Matanzas & Folklore Matancero
Oyelos De nuevo  (Qbadisc QB 9013)

Los Muñequitos De Matanzas 
Congo Yambumba  (Qbadisc QB 9014) 
Rumba Caliente 88/77  (Qbadisc QB 9005)

Los Papines 
Bolero, Rumba, Guaguanco, Salsa (Manopla 1024 LP)

Tito Puente 
Puente In Percussion  (Tico JMTS-1422 LP)

Real Rumba From Cuba
Various Artists  (Corason COCD 110)

Mongo Santamaria 
Drums And chants  (Vaya VS 56) 
Afro Roots  (Prestige PCD-24018-2) 
Up From The Roots  (Atlantic SD 1621LP)

Carlos 'Patato' Valdez 
Patato y Totico  (RVC 1102 LP)
Understanding Latin Rhythms Vol 1 (LPV337 LP) 
Authority  (LPV 393 LP) 
Ready For Freddy  (LPV 419 LP)

© Alex Pertout. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission from the author. This article was first published in Drumscene magazine.

© Alex Pertout. All Rights Reserved.