Maria Martinez: Afro-cuban Innovations

By Marian Martinez Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s November 2000 Issue

Maria Martinez has performed with Barry White, El Chicano, Emmanuel, Angela Bofill, Rita Coolidge, Nell Carter, Johnny Paycheck and Klymaxx. She wrote the Latin drumming curriculum at PIT and has published two books: Brazilian Coordination for Drumset and Afro-Cuban Coordination for Drumset.

Some Songo Ostinatos

First let me point out, the songo style of drumming is more of a concept than one particular “beat.” Songo is a blend of folkloric and contemporary Cuban styles with elements of funk and jazz. In many ways, songo is the “jazz” of Cuban drumming.

The songo ostinatos in this lesson are popular grooves often played in the Latin-jazz style of music. The ostinatos will help coordinate the suggested songo grooves against the two-bar bass drum phrases. The ostinatos are written in 3+2 rumba clave, but they can also be played in 2+3 by starting on the second bar. Although the clave rhythm is not always played on the drum set, it is important to always be aware of the clave while playing the songo style. The examples in this lesson are excerpts from my Afro-Cuban Coordination for Drumset book/CD package published by Hal Leonard.

Begin by practicing one of the ostinatos written below until you are comfortable playing it. To accomplish the correct feel, play the ghost notes on the snare drum as softly as possible.

DRUM! Notation Guide

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