Timba Drum Set: Performance Practice and Contemporary Application


Timba is a genre of popular dance music that began in Cuba in the 1990s and is seen as a synthesis of Cuban jazz and American popular genres fused with Cuban dance music traditions. It can also be considered an artistic reaction to the stark economic conditions of the decade. Musicians at the forefront of the timba movement were known to write popular dance songs aimed at an urban, working-class audience. Much like jazz bands from the swing era or salsa dance bands throughout the Americas, timba ensembles perform in large venues for couples’ dance expression while pushing new innovations in songwriting and performance practice.
Timba bands can be compared to dance bands from the United States, such as funk or jazz ensembles, and are known to employ lead and background singers, brass or woodwinds, and an extended rhythm section including bass, piano, Cuban percussion, and drum set. Not only are these bands known for performances and recordings in Cuba, but the genre can be heard throughout the globe.
Many view the drum set as a central role in this genre considering the virtuosic inclusion of the instrument within many timba compositions. While some might consider timba performance practice significant to the drum set field, there appears to be a gap in literature surrounding performance practice and contemporary application of the drum set within a timba band. The purpose of this research document is to provide further clarity about performance practice and contemporary application of the drum set within the timba genre. The research in this document is designed to organize the historical and musical context of timba drum set, provide clarification on three different variations of performance practice, and provide transcriptions of specific timba drum set artists. The author believes this document will provide a more detailed understanding of the function of the drum set in the timba genre during common formal sections of popular songs. It is also the author’s hope that the organization and level of detail in this document will be a novel and important contribution to the field of percussion and drum set.



Timba, drum set, Cuban dance music, performance practice