Songo is a genre of popular Cuban music, created by the group Los Van Van in the early 1970s. Songo incorporated rhythmic elements from folkloric rumba into popular dance music, and was a significant departure from the son montuno/mambo-based structure which had dominated popular music in Cuba since the 1940s. Blas Egües was the first drummer in Los Van Van, but it was the band’s second drummer, Jose Luis Quintana “Changuito”, who developed songo into the world-wide phenomenon it is today.
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Songo is the most famous of the post-Revolution Cuban rhythms, beginning with the mozambique, which drew from the deep well of Afro-Cuban folkloric rhythms (mainly rumba). During the 1970s, many Cuban bands created their own original rhythms: Los Van Van invented songo; Orquesta Ritmo Oriental—nueva onda; Orquesta Tipica Juventud—bata cinco, and Orquesta Revé named their invention—changüí, after the “funky,” folkloric proto-son music of the 19th century. Songo is a precursor of present-day timba.
Edgardo Cambon teaches the basic songo rhythms in this video lesson.
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Conga Video Lesson #10