Courtesy of Arthur Ka Wai Jenkins

Bongos come from Latin America and are an exotic addition to the orchestra. They’re joined in pairs, where one is a bit bigger than the other.

The body of each one is wooden, with a skin stretched across the top.

The ‘conga’ is like one big bongo drum, with a longer body.

To play it

They’re played either with the hands – tapping out complicated rhythms – or a choice of many different types of sticks, hammers, mallets or beaters.

The sound

Bongos make a colourful, high-pitched ‘bup-bup-bup’ sound.

Do You Know?

Do You Know?

See if you can answer the questions below!

 Which best describes the sound of bongos?

a. Bling-bling
b. Bup-bup
c. Bong-bong

 Where do bongos come from?

a. Australia
b. Latin America
c. Middle East

 Which part of the body might play the bongos?

a. Mouth
b. Feet
c. Hands

 How many bongos are put together?

a. 2
b. 4
c. 6

 Bongos are what?

a. Drums
b. Bells
c. Timpani

Play More Music!

Play More Music!

Here is more music to listen to. Click the + to see tracks and information about each work!

Selected Bongos Extracts

George Gershwin (1898–1937)
Cuban Overture (extract)

Gershwin delivers some hip-swaying Cuban-sounding music, where the brilliant bongos add just the right spice.

Performers: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; James Judd

Taken from Naxos 8.559107

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829–1869)
Symphonie romantique, ‘A Night in the Tropics’: II. Festa Criolla (‘Creole Festival’) (extract)

Bongos plus a few other things besides, including cowbells. Fun and flamboyant, this may get you up and dancing!

Performers: Hot Springs Music Festival Symphony Orchestra; Richard Rosenberg

Taken from Naxos 8.559036