Bongos are an Afro-Cuban
percussion instrument consisting of a pair of small open bottomed
drums of different sizes. In Spanish the larger drum is called the
hembra (female) and the smaller the macho (male). The bongos are the
most widespread Cuban hand drums, being commonly played in genres
such as Cuban son, salsa and Afro-Cuban jazz.
Bongo drums produce relatively high-pitched sounds compared to conga drums, and should be held behind the knees with the larger drum on the right when right-handed. It is most often played by hand and is especially associated in Cuban music with a steady pattern or ostinato of eighth-notes known as the martillo or "hammer".They are traditionally played by striking the edge of the drumheads with the fingers and palms.
The glissando used
with bongó de monte is done by rubbing the third finger, supported
by the thumb, across the head of the drum. The finger is sometimes
moistened with saliva, or sweat before rubbing it across the head.
When used in art music compositions they are usually struck with drum
Thus because of their high pitch, the bongos work best when playing a syncopated beat which can be procured with the correct guidance and direction from a trainer especially during a solo. Anyone can play the bongos with a bit of practice and rhythm.