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Tumbao practice tips?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Funkateer, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Newbie Salsa bass player here. I have "Funkifying the Clave" and Ed Uribe's "Essence of Afro-cuban Percussion and Drum Set" which has a lot of non percussion stuff including bass in it. I've been playing trombone in this community college band for the past year an a half, but this semester no bass player showed up so I volunteered.

    Being more of a jazz/funk kinda guy, I'm used to owning the 'one', but many Latin grooves avoid the one like the plague, and I'm having a hard time staying solid on 2+ and 4 (basic tumbao). I've been working out with the metronome set to beat on 1 and 3, but would like to hear some additional practice ideas to get this groove firmly ingrained.

    Also, I notice that tapping quarter notes with my foot helps with precisely locating the 2+, but the danger for me is that my groove can slip into 3+ and 1 or 1+ and 3 all too easily. Should I work on foot tapping only on 1 and 3?

    As the three side of the clave is a rhythm that I'm familiar from funk grooves, I've also been experimenting with counting in 'one' and playing the 2+ and 4 off it. How about this concept?

    Thanks in advance to all you experience d Latin bassists for your advice.
  2. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    I have similar problems playing Latin Rhythms. Patience & practice are the answer.

    I often use Oscar Stagnaro's Latin Bass Book which comes with a play-along CD.
  3. Hey guys,
    Rather than just practicing with method books it's a lot more important that you familiarize yourselves with the music and internalize the rhythms. All salsa music (it's actually a term used for an incredibly broad range of afro-cuban and latin rhythms) is based on the clave which is in itself based on the quarter note triplet. Get yourselves some good music (listen to salsa online stations, satellite radio or local radio stations if you have them).

    I can recommend early Ruben Blades, Hector Lavoe, El Gran Combo, Eddie Palmieri, Michel Camilo (latin jazz, but lots of tumbao!) and Willie Colon. If you can get stuff from those guys from the mid-late 70s and early 80s it would be ideal.

    Good luck! and shake those booties!
    Booty Shaman likes this.
  4. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    One way I got the pattern into my head was "thinking" one, then play the and of 2 and 4. That way I could still feel the two-dotted quarter and one quarter rhythm that we all know and love, but what would end up coming out is the tumbao. Once I was able to get that sound under my fingers I stopped "thinking" about the one so much, but its a good transitory tool.
  5. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006

    This book is a real approach to playing latin music of all kinds. Funking up the clave is not a good place to start.

    +100, classic and modern salsa...que rico.
    Booty Shaman likes this.
  6. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Yeah, DEFINITELY get Oscar's book. It's as legit as it gets. Funking the clave? Waste of paper, from the sound of it.
  7. Some good info and tips in this thread: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=377190

    I've made some headway personally by playing along recorded music, The Latin Bass Book , as already recommended, was good for that. Recording myself and listening back, I've got the groove right when accompanying; my problem is I still get lost when playing simply to a metronome, which is no good if/when I ever have an intro to do.

    It does get better with patience and practice, and Latin rhythm bring a whole new palette of rhythm to your playing.
  8. bottomend!


    Oct 23, 2007
    The clave in latin music occupies the same position as the "one" and the "two and four" in...uh.. non latin music. How long did it take you to get comformtable with the two and the four? the one? you either grew up with it and it just seems normal now or had to work on it, right?

    So, you you need to immerse yourself I the music and listen, listen, listen and eventually you 'll find yourself clapping out the the tumbao figure without thinking about it.

    One of the big goals for drum set players who didnt grow up with this stuff, is to be able to keep the clave going with their left foot ( hi-hat) while doing the regular stuff on the rest of the kit, thus it becomes as ingrained as the 2/4.
  9. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    I'm glad you said it, I wasn't going to...people think I'm a jerk as it is.
    Oscar's book really is the latin bass "Omnibook", and the other one that is pretty good is Oscar Del Puerto's True Cuban Bass Book. People also say it's helpful to learn latin percussion, or to learn to dance salsa. Me, I married a Venezuelan and hoped that would count for something. She turned out to be tone deft and incapable of dancing, but having her around did raise my credibility with the salseros! :D
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I think the problem with Funkifying the Clave is that most people try to funkify the clave before they have it. Learn to play it straight up, then you can try to funkify it, dig?
  11. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003

    Thanks for the listening recommendations. I have been trying to find some good salsa examples for over a week so I can get a basic salsa pattern just right and you are the first person with some specific examples. Will check out your suggestions.

  12. bottomend!


    Oct 23, 2007

    Great suggestion! Learning latin percussion is probably the fastest way for getting this stuff together. It easy to see the relationships between all the parts that way if you can play the individual parts. YOu dont need to go out and buy the instruments ( I mean, you can and probably should but thats alot of money $$$) you can simply tap out the parts or clap them ect. When listening to a recording it can just seem like a wash for the noob.
  13. Rodriguez


    Nov 6, 2004
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amplification & LaBella Strings
    True Cuban Bass book is by Carlos Del Puerto (Sr.) & (the late) Silvio Vergara. Congratulations on you're Venezuelan wife!
  14. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    True and even before they have the funk. :D

    To the OP:

    You need to listen to a lot of latin bass in it's context and if you can play as much with a latin ensemble which will get you to where you want to be quicker but it also may be the most painful when you start out. Taking some dance lessons will also help.
  15. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    +1, Oscar Stagnaro's book is unique in that it presents the first 15 or so play-a-long exercises in numerous latin styles with rhythmic variations and says that a player should not continue on with the book until he/she is comfortable with each of them. He says that if you continue on to the "funkier" grooves to soon, then you may actually end of sacrificing the groove, that's bad when you're trying to a pack a dance floor.

    +1, thank you for the correction...my ADD kicked in for a minute there! :D
  16. bopeuph


    Jul 3, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Another crapload of good suggestions here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=366625

    The general idea of that particular thread is this: dance. Learn to dance salsa.

    As bass players, we often find ourselves playing different genres throughout our lives, and due to the huge following of salsa, you will find yourself in this one eventually. In other words, maybe there should be a sticky of this subject.

  17. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    this keeps coming up! I played for 5 years in a salsa outfit, heres my best tips:

    -practice clapping the clave and singing the bass tumbao rhythm. great because you can do it anywhere, while walking your pace can be the metronome.

    -Learn the conga tumbao. Even better: learn the rest of the rhythm section patterns. Piano montuno, the cascara on the Timbales, etc...they all interlock.

    -the Latin bass Book and True Cuban Bass as mentioned already.

    -In addition to the suggested listening, Check out Cachao's "Master Sessions Vol I & II" or "Cuba Linda" for some tumbao mastery.
  18. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Thanks for everybody's input. I'm doin' the best this white boy can do to get behind this music. I've played trombone in the local community college Salsa bands (2) for the past 1.5 years and this year when no bass players showed up for one of the groups, I volunteered. Been listening to Willie Colon, Juan Pablo Torres and Celia. I can play cascara patterns on the drumset ...

    Since my first post I've been continuing to work out against the 1/3 pulse, and have been trying to internalise the tumbao/clave rhythms by tapping quarters (or halfs) with my foot and clapping clave on left knee and tumbao on right. Still in the 'falls apart quickly' phase I'm afraid ...

    This bass gig is both exciting and intimidating at the same time. Big group (15 or so) trumpets, saxes, violin, guitar(s), keys, timbales, bongos, conga, tres, vocalists doubling on hand percussion.

    One thing that continues to perplex me is that a lot of time, nobody is playing clave, and its not obvious to my ear which parts of which percussion parts I should be locking with.

    It feels best when I'm playing the basic 2+/4 tumbao against a 1/3 pulse, but sometimes I need to tap quarters to locate the eighths precisely.

    Pretty excited about this semester's Latin stuff - bone on Weds, bass on Thurs. I'm totally down on the bass as percussion instrument in this context, and see this bass playing opportunity as a good one for trying to play largely non-technical stuff in perfect time and support the band. Already starting to see bone playing benefits from all the metronome/tumbao work I've been doing.

    Keep those posts coming. Especially interested in specific 'practice this' kind of suggestions.
  19. bopeuph


    Jul 3, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    I like locking with the congas the best. Usually, you're closest to that guy (well, in the groups I was in). Something about that rhythm really helps the bass to drive. I lock in with the timbales player if the conga player is soloing or laying out. Outwardly, however, I do listen to all the percussion. Just like playing a jazz big band, I usually ignore the horns unless one is soloing.

  20. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Stagnaro book arrived on Friday. Good stuff!

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