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The Roots of Timba - Part II - Ritmo Oriental's Answer to Songo

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1970? Ritmo Oriental - Sabroseao con la Ritmo (EPA-6233)
(Juan Crespo Maza)
xx0x 0xxx 0xx0 xxx0
2-3 rumba clave
0xx0 x0x0 xxx0 x0x0
0xx0 x0x0 xxx0 x0x0
audio -- MIDI example
bass: Humberto Perera
source: write EGREM

notes: There's only one bass tumbao in this song and it's very much in keeping with the style we've encountered in Los Van Van's 1969 recordings -- a strong downbeat followed by a melodic, clave-aligned series of offbeats and upbeats. Its only unusual feature is that, like Los momis, it has no ponche (xxxx xx0x). In fact, Sabroseao is rhythmically equivalent to Los momis except for the addition of the downbeat.

0xx0 x0x0 xxx0 x0x0 Sabroseao con la Ritmo
xxx0 x0x0 xxx0 x0x0 Los momis

The tempo, which reaches 111 bpm, is also in keeping with Los Van Van's first songo tracks -- significantly faster than charanga, although not quite as fast as Los Van Van's faster 1969 recordings, and only hinting at the breakneck speeds that all three of our groups would reach by the mid-70s.

Tempo Comparison Chart

59 bpm - slow son montuno - Arsenio Rodríguez - Yo no engaño a las neñas
62 bpm - chachachá - Orquesta Aragón - Noche de farra
66 bpm - medium son montuno - Arsenio - Esa china tiene cohimbre
86 bpm - conjunto style "guaguancó" - Arsenio - La gente de Cayo Hueso
97 bpm - fast charanga - Orquesta Aragón - Quién sabe, sabe
107 bpm - 1971 Ritmo Oriental - Sabroseao con la Ritmo
117 bpm - 1969 Los Van Van - La lucha
120 bpm - 1972 Irakere - Bacalao con pan
124 bpm - mozambique - Pello el Afrokán - María Caracoles
146 bpm - guaguancó - Los Muñequitos de Matanzas - Óyelos de nuevo

Timba's most common tempo range is from the high 80s to the low 100s.

So, in many ways, Sabroseao con la Ritmo could be thought of as the application of some of the stylistic innovations of Los Van Van and Pello el Afrokán to a genre perfected by Fajardo and Aragón.

Ah, but there's so much more to it than that. It's not simply that Ritmo Oriental used faster tempos that its predecessors -- it also used multiple tempos in the same song and switched between them in extraordinarily sophisticated ways. We'll be spending a lot of time studying this practice, which the bandmembers called "con efecto", but first we need to explore la Ritmo's reinvention of one of Arsenio Rodríguez' favorite devices: the bloque.

Sunday, 16 March 2014, 04:44 AM