How To Play Conga Drums

How To Play Conga Drums

Drums are amongst the most catchy and easiest instruments to learn to play. Impress all your friends with your skills at conga-playing. This VideoJug will show you how!

Hi. I'm Toby the from Music Workshop Company, and I'm here to teach you a little bit about playing congas. So, today we're sitting playing them.

You can play them standing up as well. They're also called tumbadoras, they're also called - they have separate names - the smallest one here is a kinto, and the big one here is a tumba. As I sit with them, you notice I'm angling the kinto away from me, so the sound can come from the bottom.

So, when I'm sitting here I'm holding them between my legs, but just at an angle. So if I was to relax and open my legs, the drum would fall back into me, so it won't hit the floor. You can do the same here with your knee pushing the tumba drum out, that does give you a more better acoustic.

Okay, so we're going to look at the various sounds. We're going to start on the kinto. We've got some nice close sounds here, very relaxed, exactly as you see the hand is nice and relaxed here.

And we've got the open sounds. I'm always keeping my thumbs up - this is a really important thing. I think everyone does it when they start playing congas, so don't worry about it, you'll only do it once though.

Hit your thumbs up, because as your thumbs go down, they will literally strike this wooden rim here underneath the skin of the drum, and you get really bad bruises. So, keep your thumbs up. There we've got our open tones, and we've got our closed tones.

The heel of the hand here produces a fantastic bass response, and a tip another sound. There's so many sounds to these drums, and I've only just done one. The hardest sound to get, the sound that people find the most challenging to get is the slap tone.

The slap tone sounds like this, so it's very onomatopoeic, so it sounds like a slap. And the way we do this, the best explanation I can think of is that if you imagine your hand as a wet rag, imagine that you've dipped that hand just into the water as far as the fingertips. So very relaxed, but yet the weight is coming down on the fingertips.

If you tense up, not as natural a sound. So it's all relaxed, so it shouldn't hurt too much unless you slap down. Exactly the same applies here, although you wouldn't probably slap the tumba drum, more use it for bass notes and things, various different patterns which we'll get on to.

So, I'm going to teach you a really basic pattern. It involves the tip, the slap, and the open tone, and it's called a tumbau - t-u-m-b-a-u, I think. So, all 1/8th notes, so you're playing, that means you're playing 8 to a bar, or 4 in a bar.

So, one and two and three and four and so we're just playing that subdivision. One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and. So, that's the subdivision.

What am I doing with my hands? I'm playing heel, tip, slap, tip, heel, tip, open, open. Heel, tip, slap, tip, heel, tip, open, open. So the thing to check out there is when I do the slap, I'm leaving that left hand down, because it's harder to slap an open slap - an open slap is there, it's nice if you just - you're not pressing down with that left hand, but it's nicer to get a slap with just a slightly muted hit, so we're just doing that while leaving the left hand on it.

So, heel, leave it down, slap, tip, heel, tip, open, open. Every odd bar you might want to go to the open on the tumba. Okay.

A variation on that you'll hear. You might want to start with instead of with the heel - an open. Okay, so we're getting into slightly faster things, but essentially a variation on that, and you'll hear that - a variation of that pattern on almost every single kind of pop tune that's got congas, very much.