Bongo drums are a type of percussion instrument that is thought to have originated in both African and Cuban cultures. Bongo drums are two drums that are connected and played together. The larger drum is known as the hembra (female) in Spanish, and it is connected to the smaller drum, known as the macho (male) in Spanish. The general idea is that the bongo drums are Cuban in origin but African in concept due to design influences. Bongo drumming appears to have gained popularity in the late 1800s in Cuba in the Son and Changui music styles.
Interesting facts about Dongo Drums:
The bongo drums are thought to have originated in the late 1800s in Cuba’s eastern region, in the Oriente Province. The bongo drum made its way to Cuba’s western region, Havana, in the 1900s, with Son style music.
Bongo drums have an open bottom, similar to Bantu or Congo drums from central Africa, and are thought to have been influenced by African drum design.
Bongo drum heads vary in size but are typically between 6 and 7 inches and 7 and 8.5 inches.
Bongo drum heads for children are typically 5 to 6 inches in diameter.
The drummer usually holds the bongos between their legs when playing them. The position of the bongos is determined by the player, but the technique of striking the bongos is the same: the drummer strikes with their finger pads, thumbs, and heels of the hand, never their knuckles.
Drum oils are required to keep the skin of the bongo from drying out and cracking. This cracking can occur as a result of air drying out the skin and hands absorbing the oils, robbing the drum skin of moisture.
The majority of bongos are made of wood, with drum skins made of animal skin or plastic. Instead of wood, the body is sometimes made of ceramic or metal.
Bongos are sometimes mounted on a stand and struck with drum sticks rather than hands.
The drum skin, shell, lugs, tuning ring, bearing edge, and center block or bridge are all components of the bongo drum.
Tuning bongo drum skins was traditionally done with heat, but in the 1940s, tuning lugs were added to the bongo design, allowing the instrument to be tuned without the use of heat.
Because of the popularity of Cuban big band music, which gained international attention when it was introduced, bongo drums have become the world’s most common hand drum.
Bongoseros are musicians who play the bongo drums.
Augustin Gutierrez, Antolin Suarez, Pedro Mena, Jose Manuel Carriera Incharte, Romanocito Castro, Armando Peraza, Chino Pozo, and Ralph Marzan, among many others, are famous bongoseros who helped bring the bongos to international attention.
Both James Dean and Marlon Brando, Hollywood legends, learned to play the bongos from master bongosero and teacher Jack Costanzo.