Candombe is Afro-Uruguayan music that originated with African slaves who arrived in Uruguay starting in the mid 1700s. “Candombe” was the generic name for their dances; the Africans called their drums, and the place they gathered to perform their music, “tangó.” In the early 1800s the Uruguayan government tried to ban the genre, fearing the cultural expression would lead to insurrection. By the mid 1800s when Uruguay abolished slavery, African dancing had become an inextricable part of Uruguayan culture. Candombe.com presents this history and then goes on to discuss the three different drums (tambores) that perform together in an ensemble called a “cuerda” to compose the genre’s unique rhythm–tambor piano, tambor chica, and tambor repinque. The basic rhythmic pulse is called the “madera” (“wood”) and is similar to the Afro-Cuban 3-2 son clave.
KEY INSTRUMENTS: Candombe drums (chico, repique, piano)