Mambos versus moñas

Discussion in 'Salsa Music' started by timberamayor, Oct 9, 2011.

  1. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Third question is about something that confuses me, and I can't find examples right now. But there are quite a few songs, where ending is incoherent with the whole song. What's that about?

    I red that back in the days before LPs, when you could only get 3-4 minutes on one side or record, bands tied to sneak in demos, by patching some new material to existing song. The length of pop music single did not increase much since then. Could it be that early technological issues left mark on arrangement tradition. Or is there something else? This does not happen in other genres though. Nowadays bands need filler material for CDs.

    The only example I found right now is from Alex Wilson version of "Englishman in New York". Last minute is different groove than first 3:30. Still the same melody.
  2. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    Yeah, the rhythm section pretty much continues what they were doing in the montuno preceding the moña. The person playing the cowbell will sometimes do something special to bring in moña and the bass player may change up his pattern a little bit, but staying within in the same chords, just a little contrast, things like that. But, yeah, the percussion, bass, piano pretty much stay in the montuno groove, as you said.
    Great question. Most of the time a moña is song specific. But there are certain commonly known moñas that can fit in to other songs (as long as the chords and clave pattern is the same). For example, in "Agua de Clavelito" by Pacheco ( there is a moña the trumpets play at 4:30 that fits easily into quite a few other songs that use that familiar I-IV-V chord pattern with a 2/3 clave (in this case, the key of F).
  3. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I'm not sure what you are referring to. I couldn't find a youtube of Alex Wilson "Englishman in New York".
  4. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    So a mambo would be a section that is harmonically not "at odds with" :) but different from the montuno and including horns, while a moña is more just horn riffs during the montuno :)

    I don't know how often they rehearsed in this period but in general since Cuban musicians are full-time musicians with a single band they spend maybe 4-6 hours 3-5 days a week rehearsing and the first and second line bands usually perform 2 times a week. So weeks with a lot of performances would have fewer rehearsals since the concerts would fill that roll.

    I think they pretty much played La Bruja the same with some difference in the solos I suppose but in general the same way. The improvisation tends to come during the interaction with the audience part. I think my personal favorite period is from 1992-1996, although the early period from 1989-1991 is also quite good. At that time Giraldo Piloto was on drums and Issac Delgado was singing with the band.

    For example one of the songs from their first timba CD
    la Expresiva

    And from their second timba Cd from 1990 Los sitios entero. A nice story about this song from the mouth of Ned Sublette is that El Tosco told him they wrote the arrangement in the studio in 45 minutes.

    Great stuff but I still lean towards their mid-90s. Like Papá Changó from the
    Live desde la patio de mi casa album. you've gotta love El Tosco. He wanted to record a live album so he set up the recording equipment at home and had a party for his neighborhood on the patio of his house :) This has got those great piano tumbaos that I love with timba.
    cascarillas con huevos y un pañuelo colorao

    Cuban groups vary in the amount of improv they do. For example La Charanga Habanera has virtually no improv except with audience interaction. David Calzado orchestrates everything exactly the way he wants it and the band performs it exactly that way every time. Each song has specific rhythm section efectos written for that song alone.

    At the other end of the spectrum you have Paulo FG, who pretty much changes things with each concert. Since he's both the bandleader and the singer and actually a good improviser (sonero) as well, he directs the band with hand signals to tell them which percussion gear to use and when. So no two concerts are ever exactly the same. The band developed a number of variations on the basics of bomba, presion and masacote including pedal and songo con efectos. From an article by Kevin
  5. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    That's a pretty good summary, yeah.

    And thanks for all the info and inside scoop in that last post. That account of Paulito's hand and body signals is priceless!
  6. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    Most Cuban groups use a raised fist to signal bomba. I don't know why he is different.
  7. CanadianMontuno

    CanadianMontuno Changui

    I'd give an arm and a leg to find out, very specifically, what the commonly accepted hand signals are. The explanation "from Kevin's article" is something I've seen many times, and it leaves me wanting much more!

    I know about closed-fist raised up calling for the end of a song, but that's about it. Would anyone be willing to pitch in with their knowledge?

    And the mona vs mambo discussion is fantastic. Clarifying similar terms is very useful for me. Thank you to everyone here :)
  8. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    The thing with signals is that each band has their own way of doing gears. So for example Bamboleo uses numbered gears so I suppose Lazarito raises a certain number of fingers to indicate which one he wants.

    Normally for the coda the director raises his hand and makes like an "OK" sign, i.e. the index finger and thumb tips touching and the last three fingers raised.

    I think if the bandleaders signal the mambos in that case they would use a number of fingers to indicate if they want mambo 1, mambo 2, mambo 3 etc. (moña in non-Cuban parlance ;) ). Depending on the band it is sometimes the leader of the horn section that signals the mambos.

    I know that Alexander uses the closed fist for bomba as well. The best thing to do maybe is to check out all the live video available these days on YouTube and look for signals when you hear the changes. But with Revé for example you should watch Aisar, not Elito.
  9. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I was fascinated by the elaborate hand and body signals Paulito uses described earlier.

    In Salsa, it is not too complicated. There are common universal signals. The music director gives the cues. The music director could be a horn player, the timbal player, the piano player... it depends on the band.

    The norm is a four bar cue, but that is not always the case. A cue could sometimes be two bars, six bars, five bars -- it depends on what the arranger has done.

    For the mambo, raising one arm and the index finger extended is the cue that the mambo is coming up, and then a strong obvious signal on "one" of the first bar of the cue ( the person giving the cue may want to be extra clear about the cue and "count down" by raising one finger on the first bar, two fingers on the second bar of the cue, etc.).

    If the song is to be extended for live performance the music director will do a circular motion with one arm indicating to repeat the mambo section.

    For moñas, the cue is tapping the head ( the word moña referring to hair ) and then the strong arm signal on one of the first bar of the cue.

    Moñas are played in the order they are written on the chart, so if there are multiple moñas they will be played in order. Sometimes the last moña will be repeated to extend the song, or if the music director calls for a spontaneous moña he will tug on his ear ( meaning for someone in the horn section to make one up on the spot and the other have to quickly pick it up by ear ).

    The coda is a raised fist.
  10. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

  11. CanadianMontuno

    CanadianMontuno Changui

    This is gold. Thank you so much!

    A few of the ones you mentioned are familiar, now that I think of it - like the mona / head tapping one.

    Count down or up? If you give one finger on the first bar, it sounds like counting up. A 4-bar count down is usually what I've been doing in my band and it is working well - for easy entries, I just give a 4-count once and that's it, but for harder, I'd do 3, 2, and 1 as well.
  12. groovetpt

    groovetpt Capitán Del Estilo

    I guess what I'm used to then is really a "count up". :) It works either way.
  13. While I only read through one page of replies I'll offer a bit. Moña and mambo for most purposes from anyone I've ever talked with are interchangeable. The only distinction I've come across is that a moña is polyphonic and a mambo is usually monophonic. In other words, a moña has each instrument playing its own melody, often stacked on top of each other while a mambo has each instrument playing the same melody (while not excluding the possibility of harmony).

    I have to disagree with the definition that makes a moña an extended instrumental section. Repetition is a sine qua non for either moñas or mambos.
  14. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    But in Cuban parlance they never talk about horn parts as moñas (at least never that I've heard in 11 years), they are always referring to hiphop or stuff like that as in the song timba con moña. But when they have the polyphonic bit isn't that what they call a champola or what one could call a contrapuntal mambo?
  15. That's for sure. People talk about NG being big with that (which they are of course) but you can even go back to Arsenio to find those things. I wonder if Kevin has found any reference to those contrapuntal horn parts as anything other than "diablos."

    And keep in mind I haven't been to Cuba for music for probably 10 years (the last time I went didn't involve much timba).
  16. Sorry for bringing this post back but I'm not a musician so musical terms confuse me a bit. I'm preparing a musicality class for my on2 course and for this specific class i wanted to have the students to practice identifying and dancing to the different sections of the song. For example i might have them do smooth contratiempo basic to intro/body sections and maybe have them switch to a tiempo when the montuno hits. Maybe do something if there is a bridge but right now it won't be too much of a concern. Then I would like for them to maybe do what i call swing steps or maybe just switch to a syncopated basic (8 1/2 2 3 4 1/2 6 7 to the mambo and moña sections. And finally i'll come up with something for the ending or maybe just go back to contra tiempo.
    I think i kinda get it but i wanted to make sure i don't call a mambo a moña or vise versa. I wanted to have a song prepared so that i'm not guessing in the moment. For now i think i want to use Songoro Cosongo by Hector Lavoe

    So far i have intro then theme/body starts at 0.37 sec.
    @ 0.59 secThey give you a taste of the coro they will use in the montuno which i'm not sure but leads into a bridge@1:12????
    Then @ 1:22 it changes into either bomba, caballo, or something else??????
    @1:45 we have the first montuno section until 2:29
    @2:30 mambo section begins although horns come in a bit later
    @3:12 something happens but i'm not sure. Was I wrong and this is actually the mambo and the previous part a bridge or they are both mambo or is one moña?? Or is it the begining of the montuno but with some horns in it? Sorry for the ignorance and lack of musical knowledge (I'm just a dancer)
    @3:18 for sure its montuno section
    @3:57 I would call this moña section. Is this correct??
    @4:20 montuno again
    @4:57 moña II
    @5:20 montuno section
    @6:02 moña III more intensity
    @6:29 montuno
    @7:11 ending (is there a better name for this? and also when the horns start playing does this have a name?? or just horns coming in hahah?)

    Thanks in advance. If this is too much to do i would like to know at least if i'm correct for 2:30, 3:12, and 4:57
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2017
  17. link to the song
  18. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    To me it seems like a really long bridge - in fact it's so long it seems like it can't be abridge. @groovetpt would be the best one to answer your questions I think, but I don't know how often he's checking in.
    Abraham R. likes this.
  19. What about the mambo section and moñas? You defenitely have a better grasp of these things than me so I'll trust your opinion more than mine.
  20. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'El Diferente' Canales

    I still don't really get exactly what is meant by moña. My understanding was that there is a component of improvisation in the moñas, which I don't hear at all. So I don't know. IN Cuba they call all the horn parts mambos, and my experience is all via Cuban musicians. The term moña in Cuba is used for all kinds of things from r&b to hip-hop to sort of just a wild mix of sounds.
    MAMBO_CEC and Abraham R. like this.

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