Two patterns are used in traditional and contemporary Afro-Cuban music deriving from sacred and secular folkloric traditions. The timbalero (solo percussionist) plays these patterns. Over time, this adapted to the full drum kit. The name “Cascara” refers to these patterns being played on the shell of timbales or the rim of the floor tom. Today, Cascara refers to the rhythm itself. The thing to pay attention to as with Son and Rumba Clave are the distinct differences with how the Cascara fits with each Clave. For example, Son Clave pivots on the “and” of 2. Rumba Clave pivots on the “a” of 2. Playing this very slowly will give you the distinct difference. Notice how the Clave is played with the side stick on the snare rim and the Cascara is played on the cowbell, hi hat or ride cymbal. The kick drum is the same for Cascara 1 & 2. It fits between the Clave beats creating a very funky vibe.
Legendary Cuban Drummer, Ignacio Berroa, said “Clave is a pattern and a feel around which all the parts of the music has to fit. It’s like a guide that will tell you how to play this music.” There are 2 claves. Son clave and Rumba clave. With Son clave the third beat falls on beat 4. With Rumba clave the third beat falls on the and of beat 4. You can play each clave 3, 2 or 2, 3 meaning the first three beats in the first measure and the last two in the second measure or vice versa. When accompanying music, the melody tells you which type of clave to play. The opening performance switches between Son and Rumba 2,3 claves. The lesson demonstrates Son and Rumba clave at 80, 120 and 140BPM.
This chant is a triple feel version of Duple Chant in 7 #2. It begins on the pedaled hat alternating with the ride. Although it sounds very simple, the thing to keep in mind is once you become solid playing it, you’ll notice how challenging it is to come back on the top of the chant when improvising inside the shape. I strongly recommend mastering the feel of this without improvising. Then you’ll have to practice improvising and coming back into the chant at the top. As stated in the previous lesson, Western drumming emphasizes returning to the top landing on the kick and cymbals. That is not the case here. You have to get used to coming out of improvising landing with the pedaled hat and snare.
The top begins with the pedaled hat and snare creating a backwards-like approach. Western music usually begins with a kick and cymbal whether hi hat, ride or crash. I chose to begin with the snare and pedaled hat not only for the unusual factors. Beginning on the snare uses the part of the drum kit that is commonly the answer to the call. The pedaled hat and ride are constant which ties the whole together. Both the hat and ride fall on each beat. This chant gives the typical Western drummer the ability to literally turn everything around culturally while applying strict control of the chant’s shape.