On Drumming: Vol. 7- Cascara!!!

Another really cool rhythm that I discovered when I first started taking drum lessons, was the cascara.  It is a salsa music, percussion pattern that is typically played on the shells of the timbales:

Percussion instruments have standard patterns that reoccur in most salsa music with only slight variations. For example, this is a common rhythmic pattern called the cáscara based on the 2–3 clave, and is played on the shells of the timbales during the verses and less energetic parts of a song:

Timbales cáscara rhythm in 2–3 clave (beats)
*.*.**.**.**.*.* (* = cáscara strikes)

But it also can be incorporated onto a drumkit and played as a cymbal pattern.

The version that I was taught (see 1:03) was modified to sound more like dum da-dum dum da-dum dum da-dum da-dum, with the last part folding neatly back into the 1 of the beat.  Anyways, any time I am playing something that has a driving rhythm and I feel like going with something more Latin-y, I use this pattern as my old stand-by.  I have probably played this pattern thousands of times.

So it was really neat, when I went to see Devotchka at the Greek Theater a couple months ago and they played the above song, and I recognized my old friend being played by their amazing drummer Shawn King.  You can hear it especially well at 2:37 in the Enemy Guns video when he plays the pattern on the cowbell, with some bongo hits on the off-beats for accents.  And this is one of the things I love so much about this band, the way they take these diverse elements of world music and put them into American rock in a very authentic, yet modern way.

And of course it helps that they have a pretty good singer too. –Uncle Eb/John

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