Contra Campana

Bell set up 1

 Contra Campana 

Greetings to all and welcome to our next workshop.

We explored some basics of the Bongo or Coro bell on the drumset. Now lets get another pattern together. This pattern is played on what is called “Contra Campana” . It is also known  as the “Mambo bell” or Timbal bell. Some explanation of the names will of course give us insight to the function of the pattern.

The obvious reasons for the names: From Spanish to English “Contra” is “Against”. Campana means bell.

A) The pattern is played  against the Coro bell pattern. Against meaning like in Football game, “This team against that team” – the reality is that they are playing the game (pattern) together.

B) The pattern is used in a style of music that some people call Mambo. Although the term Mambo is not really a specific style. It’s is a term that has been somewhat misunderstood. If you ask different  players it is likely that they give you different ideas about what it means. Some people say that Salsa is the style of Music to which you dance the “Mambo” . So the term Mambo is also related to a certain dance to which this pattern became a major part of.

C) Finally, this bell is most typically played by the Timbalero. It is part of the bell set up on Timbales.

Why do you need to know this? Because if you play in a Salsa band, charts most likely will out line which pattern you will need to play in different sections. Or, it is very common for the leader of the band to change arrangements on the fly! Creating improvised sections. In that case he organizes the percussion section by yelling out what bells to play. The whole rhythm sections adjusts their patterns to these commands. If you play the wrong bell…there will be trouble. So you need to know which bell plays this pattern.

Finally, it is impossible to transcribe the “feel” of this pattern. It has a very particular hump to it. All we can do is write the basic notation. You will have to listen to the music to get an idea of how it grooves. Or you can further investigate micro timing with my RTS method, which we covered in past issues.

So lets check out the pattern. Example 1 is the pattern in 3 – 2 clave

Example 2 is in 2-3 clave. Examples 3 & 4 gives you basic independence you will need to begin developing the groove.

Download the exercises here – Contra Campana

Have fun and for more info check out my website

Toca con sabor

Phil M.


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