Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Instrumental Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates

Second Committee Member

Svetoslav R. Stoyanov

Third Committee Member

Thomas M. Sleeper

Fourth Committee Member

Nancy C. Zavac

Fifth Committee Member

Thomas B. Keck


This essay examines the drum rhythms associated with Uruguayan candombe, and Afro-Uruguayan music and dance promoted nationally and internationally as Uruguayan cultural heritage. At the heart of this cultural form, both musically and symbolically, is the drum (commonly referred to in Uruguay as tambor), along with collective drumming performances known as llamadas. Scholars of Afro-Uruguayan history, culture, and music are quick to acknowledge the significance of the drum to candombe, linking it to Afro-Uruguayan discourses and the politics of national identity. However, many of the resources that would assist musicians who are interested in learning and understanding these rhythms and their context in performance are not easily accessible outside of Uruguay and are generally only available in Spanish. Additionally missing from the majority of available works are transcriptions and contextual analyses of these drum rhythms, which would serve to illustrate their musical and cultural significance. The purpose of this essay is to complement and expand upon existing scholarship dealing with this vibrant musical tradition, specifically through the context of collective drumming performances known as llamadas. Based on research conducted in Uruguay from August 2011-April 2012, this study presents materials to aid in understanding basic candombe rhythms and their application in a variety of musical settings. Additionally, I examine the individual and ensemble rhythms of the tambores with respect to their significance as markers of Uruguayan social and cultural identity.


candombe; Uruguayan music; Afro-Uruguayan music; tambores; llamadas; toques madres