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125 free video
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Bill Powelson's School of Drums

Copyright 1998 Bill Powelson all rights reserved

LATIN RHYTHMS: (Drumset techniques)
LATIN LESSON #1: (Cha-Cha)

It's the simplest Latin Rhythm on the Planet! We'll call it a 'quasi' Cha-Cha. It is a good little 'wannabe' and will work (in a pinch) as a Cha-Cha if you can't play the more difficult, classic Cha-Cha patterns (below.) This one is pretty easy! You will be dropping a lay-over rimshot on every count.
This one will gradually help you get that lay-over rimshot under control and set you up for the more complex variations to come. If you aren't accustomed to playing the lay-over rimshot . You may need some time and quite a few Cha-Cha recordings before moving on.

VIDEO: Click here to see, and hear the above pattern.

Now notice the accent marks on the Cowbell (above.) You'll be accenting on every number count. This gives the pattern a Quarter-note 'feel' even though we are playing 8ths on the Cowbell. These two beats sound alike! I couldn't get the midi maker to play accents on the cowbell!

VIDEO: Click here to see, and hear the above pattern.

This 'CLASSIC CHA-CHA' (above) looks and sounds simple enough, but is it simple? Yes! Though it takes awhile to get the left hand flowing from a lay-over rimshot on the snare, up to the high-tom for two strokes with the butt of the stick and then back again to the next lay-over rimshots on the snare. Now try to add those accents on the Cowbell as in the above example. Remember 'Santana' 0f 60s & 70s Latino Rock? 'Black Magic Woman' might be a good song to try with all these beat patterns. I had to jerry-rig my midi maker to get this sounding decent. It should sound better than this on a real drum kit.

It is pretty easy to turn the above Classic Cha-Cha into Bolero or Rhumba by simply moving your right hand off the cowbell and to the snare batter. With the tip of your right stick, near the rim . . . trade off random snare and power rimshot effects with your right while maintaining the left hand as it was in the classic Cha-Cha pattern.

Incidentally the 'snares' need to be released on all these patterns, converting your snare into a high-pitched tom (similar to a high-Timbali.) Flip the lever on the side of your snare into the 'off' position, to produce these more authentic Latin tones.
VIDEO: Click here to see, and hear the above pattern.

VIDEO: Click here to see, and hear the above pattern.

You can play a lot of years without the variation in the above example, but I like it! It's a more sophisticated form of Cha-Cha. Here, we are catching a quick butt-of-the-stick to the snare (batter) just prior to moving to the high tom. It adds a nice touch of class to the pattern.

VIDEO: Click here to see, and hear the above pattern.

It is also VERY common to play Quarter Notes on the Cowbell, Now we are playing 'Quarter-note Cha-Cha'. You can add that passing butt-of-the-stick (trick) to this pattern too, if you wish.


If you want to get rich, you son of a snitch,
I'll tell you what to do:
Never sit down with a tear or a frown,
and learn to paddle your own canoe.


Copyright Bill Powelson 1996 all rights reserved.