In music of Afro-Cuban origin, tumbao is the basic rhythm played on the bass.
In North America, the basic conga drum pattern used in popular music is also called tumbao.
Often the last note of the measure is held over the downbeat of the next measure.
In this way, only the two offbeats of tresillo are sounded.
The first offbeat is known as bombo, and the second offbeat (last note) is sometimes referred to as ponche.
The following example is written in cut-time (2/2).
The 2-3 bass line of "Dame un cachito pa' huele" (1946) coincides with three of the clave's five strokes.
David García identifies the accents of "and-of-two" (in cut-time) on the three-side, and the "and-of-four" (in cut-time) on the two-side of the clave, as crucial contributions of Rodríguez's music.
The two offbeats are present in the following 2-3 bass line from Rodríguez's "Mi chinita me botó" (1944).
Moore points out that Rodríguez's conjunto introduced the two-celled bass tumbaos, that moved beyond the simpler, single-cell tresillo structure.
This type of bass line has a specific alignment to clave, and contributes melodically to the composition.
Rodríguez's brother Raúl Travieso recounted, Rodríguez insisted that his bass players make the bass "sing."
Timba tumbaos incorporate techniques from funk, such as slapping, and pulling the strings in a percussive way.
The following excerpt demonstrates several characteristics of timba bass.
This is Alain Pérez's tumbao from a performance of Issac Delgado piece "La vida sin esperanza."
Pérez's playful interpretation of the tumbao is what timba authority Kevin Moore refers to as “controlled improvisation;" the pattern continuously varies within a set framework.
Conga drum pattern
The conga was first used in bands during the late 1930s, and became a staple of mambo bands of the 1940s.
The primary strokes are sounded with open tones, on the last offbeats (2&, 2a) of a two-beat cycle.
The fundamental accent—2& is referred to by some musicians as ponche.
The basic tumbao sounds slaps (triangle noteheads) and open tones (regular noteheads) on the "and" offbeats.
There are many variations on the basic tumbao.
For example, a very common variant sounds a single open tone with the third stroke of clave (ponche), and two tones preceding the three-side of clave.
The specific alignment between clave and this tumbao is critical.
Beginning in the late 1960s, band conga players began incorporating elements from folkloric rhythms, especially rumba.
The quinto-like phrases can continually change, but they are based upon a specific counter-clave motif.
Cruz's creations offered clever counterpoints to the bass and chorus.
Many of his tumbaos span two or even four claves in duration, something very rarely done previously.
He also made more use of muted tones in his tumbaos, all the while advancing the development of .
The example on the right is one of Cruz's inventos ('musical inventions'), a band adaptation of the Congolese-based Afro-Cuban folkloric rhythm makuta.
He played the pattern on three congas on the Paulito song "Llamada anónima".
Timba keyboard guajeos
Many timba bands use two keyboards, such as Issac Delgado's group, which features's Melón Lewis (1st keyboard) and Pepe Rivero (2nd keyboard).
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumbao.