One of my students recently joined a band that plays latin music. He gave me a list of songs and now we're exploring the wonderful world of south american and caribbean styles.
Here’s the first song we did:
“La Sitiera” is basically a “bolero”, a cuban style which features a slow 2/4 rhythm and must be clearly distinguished by the spanish "Bolero" which is in 3/4 time.
The main rhythmic elements of cuban bolero are played on shaker (maracas) and congas:
A basic bolero bass pattern is played like this:
I described "La Sitiera" as basically bolero because in some parts of the song the rhythm changes to a Cha-Cha, for example in bars 33 – 36 (1:28min.), bars 41 – 44 (1:44min.) and from bar 61 until the end.
Charateristic elements of the Cha Cha groove are;
- - the cowbell plays on every quarter note
- - the guiro plays a pattern alternating between quarter and eighth notes
- - the characteristic conga rhythm has two distinct open hits on the high conga on beats 4 & 4+
As you can see the Cha Cha is notated in 4/4 (that's the reason why I notated the whole song in 4/4).
Here’s the bars 33-36 with a characteristic Cha Cha bassline:
Here's the complete transcription of "La Sitiera" by Oscar D'Leon y su Orquestra:
Last year I did another transcription of a cuban bolero: