Cuba is known for its carnaval, a summertime celebration where each community brings together its dancers and percussion ensembles (known as comparsa) to perform in a parade along the Malecón. The best ensemble performance wins a national award with opportunities to perform their show all over the country.
Cuban Carnaval is performed in two different styles, Havana-style and Oriente. Havana-style is performed in Havana and nearby provinces Matanzas and Pinar del Rio. Havana-style has a more aggressive and spirited pace. It´s performed at a fast pace that uses trumpets and trombones with the drum line. Carnaval from Oriente includes provinces of Santiago de Cuba,
Guantamano and Holguin. This style uses Chinese coronets, horns with high-pitched sounds, along with a slower drum rhythm to create a comparsa.
Cuban Carnaval is a tradition that has been carried down through individual neighborhoods since before the Revolution. Each neighborhood is identified by a unique name and creates a particular drum line to distinguish itself from the others.
This course is designed to teach the different rhythms and instruments used in a comparsa.
Carlitos Medrano is a Cuban percussionist who works professionally with many groups in the
Bay Area. He also performs his own Cuban-style carnaval with his project Sabor De Mi Cuba.
He has been teaching percussion rhythms in the U.S. since arriving from Cuba in 2008.