Afra, a rhythm from the Arará tradition in Cuba

We just uploaded a new video, which is part of the PercussionTutor app, showing a rhythm called Afra. The recording took place in December 2012 at the in Brooklyn.

One of the many different ethnic groups in Cuba are the Arará people (found mainly in the provinces of Havana and Matanzas). Originally they came from Dahomey, now Benin.

Jérôme (and his 2 brothers …) play the three traditional drums Caja, Segundo, Bajo on a conga with sticks. The lead drum Caja is played with hand and stick. The Tercero which is not shown on the video can be heard on the backing track. The bell called ogan plays a typical 6/8 rumba clave.

It’s worth noting the subtle interlocking of the four drum parts. The use of the sticks creates a very short attack requiring the performers to be perfectly in sync. Is’s certainly a great rhythm to practice on a table with whatever kitchen utensils are at hand.

The transcription gives just an idea of the melody the four meshing drum parts are creating.

afra_bas_sheet - Full Score

Please visit for the free transcription book and the iPhone app.