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    The Bolero Rhythm
    ...and the Bolero Drum Beat

    The Bolero
    The Bolero is a ballad rhythm (a slow tempo, around 80-100 bpm) that comes from Spain. It stems from the Rhumba beat and is often used in ballroom dancing (The Bolero). It is also commonly used with belly dancers. You'll see them swinging and swaying their veils to this slow, sultry beat. The Bolero has been applied to many different styles internationally from Cuban string trios and small Latin combos to modern jazz and big bands. It is more often than not accompanied by a vocalist.

    Originally, the Bolero was played in 3/4 (see Ravel's Bolero below) but as the years went by, syncopation was introduced into this rhythm and it started being applied to duple time or 4/4. You'll also commonly hear it played a bit faster these days resembling more of a Rhumba.

    Original rhythm in 3/4:
    | Dum diddle di dum diddle di dum dum | Dum diddle di dum diddle di diddle di diddle di |

    Bolero rhythm applied to 4/4:
    | Dum diddle di dum dum dum di dum dum |

    The Bolero Rhythm - Drum Beat, Pattern

    How to play the Bolero on the Drums
    Originally played on hand drums, it was eventually applied to drumset. Of course Ravel's version is played on the snare drum only. Like many ethnic drum beats, it can also be divided between the cymbal (or HH), snare, and bass drum as long as it is approached simplistically and tastefully. The most important thing is to play the triplet on the second beat for authenticity. For effect, you can turn the snares off and/or use the cross-stick technique for variation.

    Facts / Resources
    1. Learn more about the history of the Bolero by clicking here

    2. Most famous was Maurice Ravel's Bolero (1928). Click here to hear this listen to an Real Media (.ram) sound sample. (You may need to turn up your speakers a bit.)

    4. The Bolero was brought center stage in the popular movie "10", with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek (1976). Bo Derek later starred in a movie named "Bolero" in 1984.

    5. The Bolero is not only Mexico's most popular style of music, it is also considered Latin America's most typical romantic music.

    Stay tuned for more on how to play the Rhumba on drums / drumset and the history behind the rhythm. We will be eventually covering all styles and have more MP3 and real media sound samples for you to listen to. Please reference the sites below for literally hundreds of links to drum lessons, tabs and tips.


    DrumTips.com  |  Drum Lessons

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