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Cuban Tres Examples – Son Montuno

Cuban tres construction © Jon Griffin

By Jon Griffin

Here are some more examples of patterns and parts the Cuban tres would play.

Son & Son Montuno

Son and Son Montuno are basically the same thing. The main difference is that the Son does not have two distinct sections.

Like most modern music, there are many exceptions and sometimes there is no clear defining style. There are still rules and standard patterns though. If you learn these basic standard patterns that the Cuban tres plays, you will be able to mix up the styles and create something unique.

Just remember, on the Cuban tres, like any instrument, make sure you know and understand the rules before you break them! That means listen to a lot of Cuban music, especially music that features the Cuban tres.


This is a typical example of an introduction to a son in a major key (G major). This is very often used as the vamp leading into the song. The percussion and bass player will instinctivly know when to come in, usually the fourth or fifth bar.

Recording of Cuban Tres part for an introduction (.mp3)

Here is what that pattern sounds like so you can get a feel of how the Cuban tres plays percussivly as well as harmonically.

[S3AUDIO file='audio/ethno/son-intro-g-major.mp3']

Music Examples

Montuno Example

Here is an example of what the Cuban tres would play in a simple (I,IV,V) montuno. It is not the number of notes that matter, the Cuban tres is essentially a percussion instrument so play it like one.

Recorded Examples

Con Sabor Al Guaso
Official Retrospective Of Cuban Music