Salsa's, Merangue's, & Tumbao's

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cassanova, Jun 9, 2002.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Im trying to broaden my horizons here and learn a few of the many latino styles now. Ive heard of these 3, but I dont know what makes them what they are. Can someone please explain the differences to me please.

    Some songs of each would also be very helpful this way I can have an aural example to help solidify it a bit better.

    *on a side note*, the drummer of a band I auditioned for last week, laid down a really nice beat the made me think man I could really lay down a nice latino line over that. this is why it pays to listen to many different styles of music. Had I listen to more latino styles Id have been able to lay down a more apropriate line*
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    The book/CD combination "World Beat Grooves for Bass Guitar" answers your questions about Salsa, Merengue and Tumbao plus several other grooves such as Calypso and Reggae. It also gives typical basslines of those styles and the CD helps you hear the distinctive sound of each style. It would be a handy reference to get you started on salsa and merengue. It sells for $14.95 plus shipping and handling. Check it out.

    After that there are several more advanced books for "latin bass" available that will be of tremendous help too.

    Another thing, check out salsa and merengue web sites, of which there are many. They will have much music available that you can listen to to get your ear trained to hearing and identifying the special sound.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    A REPEATED pattern(ostinato?).
    If we're talking bass, the "& of 2" & "4" are usually accented.

    The most basic(base) example would be-

    "1", "& of 2", and "4".

    Needless to say, there are countless variations-
    You can play with more 'space' & play ONLY "& of 2" and "4".

    Get 'busier'-

    Some combination of 'space' & 'busy'-

    That's only 1-bar examples...if possible, think beyond the bar line.
    Note choices? Consider the ROOT, 5th, octave, & the 3rd & 7th. ;)

    Can you tap out those Claves with one hand while tapping out the pulse with the other(yet)?
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The most typical Tumbao and one which is common in Salsa, has the bass not playing on the one and the beat on the 4, tying across the bar line.

    "Salsa" is a wide term which covers a lot of styles - the Tumbao is really a conga pattern, but in Salsa usually refers to the bass pattern that goes with the Son Montuno style.

    If you can hear the conga patterns - these really help for nailing basslines in this style.

    Merengue is a very different style and can almost be like "Circus" or Eastern European music - but with more percussion! ;) The bass in this style is very squarely on the 1 and 3, but the thing that marks it out, is fiendishly fast tempos. So you have the piano Montuno again, but everything is speeded up and the conga patterns are very important - bass can go to a tumbao that ties across the bar as a variation but generally is more 1 & 3.

    I think the thing to think of as the bass ppayer is that you are really part of a percussion section where everything locks in together - so clave, congas, timbales plus bass together with piano holding down a very definite relationship.
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I saw this thread yesterday and was waiting for Bruce's response... now I'm tapping my foot under the desk and trying to imagine bass lines in my head... rather unsuccessfuly I have to say :(

    Can someone give some relatively simple and typical examples of these styles to look out for? A kind of starting point, as I'd like to attempt to broaden my horisons on this :)

    ...sorry, for got to add, i.e. a particular band, album, artist or even compilation that would be a good place to start... without being a "Great Salsa In The World Ever 2" type thang?!
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    As I said Salsa is broad - but if you can find a recording of "Indestructible" by Ray Baretto, this is pretty typical and popular - some great bass/piano unison parts - it's in the "Latin Real Book". It has a vocal section and a Montuno section which includes the Tumbao.

    Merengue is difficult - I've never seen any of it in the UK - the only examples I have are in instructional books/CDs - like "The Latin Bass Book" by Oscar Stagnaro.

    My band recently had a worskhop with Alex Wilson, who wrote and arranged a Merengue tune specially for us - he came along and explained how to play all the parts - percussion etc. Alex has studied in the US and Cuba and won the award last year for best newcomer in Radio 3's Jazz awards. He has his own band who launched his new album "R&B Latino" recently (highly recommended) and also plays with Courtney Pine and Jazz Jamaica amongst others.

    Alex played Merengue with bands for quite a while - he comes from Sierra Leone - but you really don't hear much of it in the UK ! I think it comes from the Dominican Republic - slightly obscure!
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Thanks v-much, I'll keep my eyes peeled. I have a reasonable music store near me that might have relevant books, but since I can't read standard notation (yet) I think it would be a difficult place to start. I'd also rather listen first to help me get the feel.

    Steve-L showed me this online CD store - - it has masses of highly unusual (and downright weird) stuff. I just tried a few searches on the names in your post, but no luck.
    I'll try a few Google searches...

    If you happen to spot anything relevant online, please let me know :)
  8. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ermmm - I really like "R&B Latino" but it's not really a good example of traditional Latin forms. Alex is trying to mix together lots of musical forms - to match his experience of what he hears in London - sort of like scanning the radio stations.

    So - he collaborates with Frank Tonto - who is musical director/drum programmer for Craig David and George Michael - a lot of the tracks are closer to this than Latin....lots of programmed drum tracks, which may not appeal to traditionalist, but it is very listenable - think Jazz FM.

    I only mentioned it as it is fresh in my mind and I can't remember the titles of Alex's earlier albums - I think one was called Afro Saxon?
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Aah, OK.

    101cd has 3 cds by alex wilson, the latest plus afrosaxon and anglo cubano. i see a pattern forming here?

    I'll take a gamble on after pay day. I do this every month anyway, more often that not I get a goodun, sometimes I really don't!
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I guess there must be two ray barretto's then! What an incredIble coincedance!

    there's a mountain of info on latin, afro-uban and practically every other brand of jazz on all history, artists, inlfluebnces, simelar styles etc & it's all cross referenced. hours of fun ;)
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    R&B Latino is a "good un" - I would start at about tracks 3 or 4 though - the first two tracks are more Frank Tonto than ALex Wilson IMO. I 've been playing it in my car a lot and there are some great "guest" vocalists throughout - depends whether you are looking for good albums or examples - I have a compilation CD called "Big Salsa" which has some great tracks on it and I would recommend for the latter....
  14. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    If you want to listen to some authentic modern merengue...not the early folklorico form with accordians... from the Dominican Republic, but a more evolved style, check out anything from Juan Luis Guerra.

    Merengue continues to evolve and now there is even a salsa/merengue fusion. But Juan Luis Guerra is from Santo Domingo and is one of the most popular...if not THE most popular practitioner of this dance music now. As it is said to have originated in the Dominican Republic, a native Dominican would be a reliable source for showing us how the music sounds.

    Check these two albums..."Ni Es Lo Mismo; Ni Es Equal" and "Grandes Exitos." Unless I am mistaken, I seem to recall that "Ni Es Lo Mismo..." was nominated for or even won a Grammy. Guerra has another interesting album too which features Bachata, another Dominican form of music worth checking out. He often plays with the lively band 440, whom I have had the pleasure to see play in Venezuela.

    Because Juan Luis Guerra is so immensely popular, his albums are easy to find. Check places like and CDNow.

    I will say for myself, I can't take too much merengue in one sitting. It kind of jangles my nerves. Maybe it is too energetic. I prefer salsa to merengue, but that is just my own taste. And that said, I go for the more "pop" salsa than the purer forms. Again that is just my taste. I still feel that it is well worth one's while to check out both forms of music. It will certainly be an enriching experience.
  15. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    That would be the spelling of "Indestructable" in Spanish. It is pronounced roughly "een day struuc tea blay" with the emphasis on the "tea".
  16. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    And that note on the 4th beat is usually held through the 1 of the next bar, right?
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think I would agree, but the singer in our group, Monica is Brazilian and she sang with groups all round South America and said Merengue is incredibly popular - her bands would always try to play other stuff, but the crowds would keep demanding Merengue. It is hugely energetic and apparently limited and downright boring, but for dancers/bands it's like a rollercoaster ride that once you get on, you can't stop!

    Alex Wilson is now more the pop end of Salsa, as I was trying to explain to Howard and I think this is more interesting and more listenable - especially if you speak Spanish ;) The pronunciation of "Indestructible" is important as it is sung as the Choro on the song!
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    ...could be. Doesn't have to be, though.
    Remember, I'm a gringo muy grande. ;)
    1)If it's a 1-bar
    2)The "1" can be tied over to bar 2(crossing the barline).
    3)The "1" can be omitted altogether.

    On the Ray Barretto thang-
    I just picked up a 2-albums on one cd Barretto album...Acid and Hard Hands on disc.
    Pretty happenin' '60s R&B/Latin grooves.
    My 'current' favourite site for weird/rare cds... ;)
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    As I mentioned above - this is the most common type of Tumbao used in Salsa and Afro Cuban grooves - it locks in with a piano "Montuno" that similarly ties across the bar.
  20. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Gosh, my sympathies go to a Brasileira who has to sing merengue when there are so many wonderful sambas to choose from and limitless salsas! I just don't understand the massive appeal of merengue. It must be cultural. You have to be born with it and grow up with it. But then not many Latinos like country and western music either, so we are even...I guess.:D