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This article highlights two very popular 6/8 rhythms found in Argentina; the zamba and the chacarera. As explained in SIX EIGHTH RHYTHMS An Introduction (Drumscene issue 4 Dec/Jan 1995/96 p34) what all these rhythms have in common is that the pulse is felt in exactly the same way.  If you count in 6/8 the 'pulse' (or your foot) will be on beats 1 and 4. 

Practice the following exercises by:
a) Clapping all the notes while tapping your foot on beats 1 and 4
b) Tapping 'hand to hand style' (R L R L R L) while tapping your foot on beats 1 and 4. It is important to count throughout.

 example 1

The zamba and chacarera are two popular rhythms that incorporate guitars, voices and an Argentinian drum known as bombo, which is a double headed drum popular throughout the Andean region. The drum is an adaptation of European field drums and like its predecessors it makes use of leather hoops, thongs and ear loops to tension the skins. The drum is made out of a hollowed out tree trunk, carefully chiselled inside. The skins are usually cowhide or lamb and they retain some of the animal's fur giving it a very mellow, deep sound. The drum is traditionally played with a stick in the right hand and a mallet in the left hand (in some areas this is reversed) which strike both the skin and the rim of the drum. If a bombo drum is nit available, you could try this rhythms on a floor tom by playing the rim or the side of the tom with a stick in the right hand and the skin of the tom with a mallet in left hand.

Zamba (slow)


Chacarera (fast)


One of the outstanding exponents of these styles is without doubt the master percussionist Domingo Cura. Any recordings featuring Domingo are highly recommended. The following is a starting list for anyone interested in Andean styles:

Flutes, Guitares Et Chants D'Argentine - ARN 64074

Canto De Pueblos Andinos - Monitor MCD 61787
La Nueva Cancion Chilena - Monitor MCD 71794

Misa Criolla 
Ariel Ramirez (w/Domingo Cura) - Phillips 6527 136 LP 
Facundo Ramirez (w/Domingo Cura) - Milan Sur CDCH 805 

Mercedes Sosa
Gracias A La Vida (w/Domingo Cura) - Phillips 832 314-2 
Live In Europe - Tropical Music 68.936

For further information on the bombo including an audio sample please click here.

© Alex Pertout. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced, without the prior written permission from the author. This article was first published in Drumscene magazine.

© Alex Pertout. All Rights Reserved.