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Songo Lesson

Ryan Smith

Songo! The songo drum pattern is one of my favorite latin rhythms to play and it originates from Afro-Cuban
roots. In this lesson I will be breaking down the parts to this 1 particular drum beat within the 'Songo' family.
(Remember that there are always multiple variations that can be played to any groove, and songo is no exception)
1) This ostinato (or motif that continuously repeats) is played between the bass drum, and pedalling the hi-hat
with the left foot. Remember that with this particular pattern, there is NO kick on the downbeat. EVERY
downbeat will be a pedalled hi-hat.

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2) Once you're comfortable with the feet, let's add a basic right hand ride pattern. (Which will be made slightly
more complex later on)
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3) Now that we have the general 'feel' of songo down, let's take a step back and work on the snare part, which
will be providing the main accents for this pattern later on. For this step we will be omitting the bass part, and
focusing on the hands only. Take your time with this, and focus on really locking in the notes that are played
in unison (at the same time). Your right hand should be on the ride cymbal, and left on the snare.
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4) Alright, we're one step closer to having the all-mighty songo DOWN! We just have a few steps left, and you'll be
on your way to sounding (hopefully) like a real latin drummer! Now we're going to combine steps 2 and 3. Be
patient, and always remember to start SLOOOW. Understanding which notes go where is always more important
then playing a beat fast and sloppy. So try breaking the bar down into sections. Start with beat 1, then 2, and so on...
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Copyright 2013 Ryan W. B. Smith

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5) Now that we have the essence of the songo down, it's time to add some icing to the cake (accents, ghost notes...
all the little things that give the beat some feel and soul). Let's start with the ride. We're going to add accents on all
of the downbeats (1, 2, 3, 4), and play the cymbal on the bell for effect.
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6) Now for the finishing touch...let's work with the snare. We're going to add 3 accents on the '&' of 1, 'e' of 2,
and the 'e' of 4, and every other snare note will be ghosted. Once you have this down, you're basically playing
a Songo!!! If you want a slightly more complicated twist, take a look at the ride pattern variation below for a
true afro-cuban feel...enjoy!!!

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Songo Pattern #1

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Songo Variation #1

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Songo Variation #2

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