Guagua review

One of my guaguas was sold to Rafael over at Sentimiento Manana blog a great blog about rumba, with a focus on the "good ol' days" of the New York rumba scene.

Thanks Rafael!

Instruments used in rumba

Partly for my blog and partly for the search engines I am going to list some of the instruments used in a rumba ensemble.

Congas / Conga / Tumbadora / Tumbadoras (go by many names, here are a few): Requinto, Quinto, Conga, Tumba, Tumbadora Salidor, Tres Dos, Tres Golpes. These are the conga drums, sometimes named for their size, their role, or the part they play in the rhythm.

Bata drums: these are being used in modern rumba (batarumba) they are the Iya, Itotole and the Okonkolo

Cajon / Cajons: wooden boxes of different shapes and sizes.

Bell / Bells: Campana, Cencerro (Spanish terms) and the Guataca which is a hoe blade.

Clave / Claves.

Guagua, Gua-gua, Cata, Pallitos: a peice of bamboo with a slit or holes played with sticks, sometimes a box played with spoons.

Shakers: usually a Shekere which is a gourd with beads on it, also sometimes Maracas or Marugas. Sometimes Nkembi are used, they are little shakers strapped to the wrists, usually of a drum player.

So I've made a few of these instruments and am looking forward to making more.
I'll be posting pictures as I go along, this is mainly the "rough beginnings" to my blog.

The Gourd Farm

I made a trip to the gourd farm last Friday, Greg Leiser Farms to be exact. A very fun trip and I recommend it to all in the area that are intersted. It is located close to Sacramento.


Anyways, I was a little after season, but they still had a huge selection, and very cheap prices. I had recently got about 5 gourds from The Caning Shop in Berkeley. It was nice enough, but the prices and selection at Leiser Farms can't be beat.

So I got 9 gourds, 3 sets of three. I am planning on making 3 Agbe / Guiro shekere sets. An Agbe set contains 3 shekeres; small, medium and large, and they should vary in tone as well. I am going to be experimenting with construction methods and types of beads to see what I think really works and looks best.

Considering a shekere was the first instrument I made I thought it would be suiting to start of this post with shekeres.


First Post!

I've been getting into rumba and Afro-Cuban music for a little while now and one of the things I really like about this music is the instruments.

I like the humble beginnings of a lot of the instruments. Sticks, boxes, gourds, beads, cow bells, hoe blades, shakers, pieces of bamboo and of course the conga drum.

As I started to get deeper into playing rumba and other rhythms I realized there was no place to buy a cata or gua-gua, that special little instrument that keeps the beat. Skekeres were expenisve and often not that well made. Where can one buy a nkembi?

Anyways I started making my own instruments and got into maintaining my drums myself; even restored a conga. I realized that resources for doing these things were a little on the thin side. I came across the idea of this blog, being inspired by other blog examples. I also started to experience a greater enjoyment of the music playing instruments I made myself and hearing other rumberos playing them. Also through this practice I have gained a deeper appreciation for the origins of rumba and Afro-Cuban music; the drive, the energy, the ingenuity and the craft involved.

In the interests of helping others make their own instruments and to promote the music itself I will be documenting the craft of making these instruments and trying to explore their history and origins in the process.