Conga Drum History in Hawaii
Music has always played a big part in the lives of the Hawaiian people. Everyone’s heard Hawaiian music and probably seen Hula dancing performed. In the instrument section you’d probably see the Pahu [pah’hoo], the coconut hollowed drum with a sharkskin head or the Puniu [poo’niu], small coconut-shell drum with fish-skin head. These were two of the Polynesian contributions to the world of hand drumming six centuries ago. Their instruments are still in use today.
In more recent times, the Ukulele was introduced thru the Portuguese plantation workers and the Guitar by the Mexican Vaqueros. Around the same time, the Puerto Rican workers arrived bringing their love of the Conga drum and their music (Kachi-Kachi). Consequently Hawaiian music has always taken on new sounds. It’s become rhythm & blues, jazz, country, rock, soul, reggae and Latin Salsa (Hawaii calls it “Kachi-Kachi”). You can name it whatever you want, but whatever it is, it’s “Hawaiian Style” here. Today, approximately 60% of all Hawaiian music is accompanied by Conga and or Bongo drums. Since Hawaii’s been so influenced by the rest of the world in music, it seems logical that we would have our own brand of percussion also, besides string instruments. After all, we’ve been playing congas for about 75 years now.
Back in 1984, this cabinetmaker who was searching for the right lifelong woodworking passion and was approached by a percussionist to refinish a set of conga’s. As the woodworker sat at his bench and gazed at those drums, he realized that “this” was what he wanted to make more than anything else. Hence, the beginning of a long long journey..
The woodworker was fascinated with the geometry of the conga. He loved the shapes and always loved the sounds. To think, one can take multiple boards, shape them exactly to these complex curves and angles and make them fit together perfectly into this beautiful instrument. It’s utterly amazing, he said.
So, began many years researching and developing the construction methods and size/sound coordinates of the drums. As well as the design and the manufacturing of handmade Stainless Steel hardware.
Tom wants to say “Mahalo” to all the percussionists and drum makers thru the years who’s information has been instrumental in helping in the development and success of these drums. That’s why, when you read the Conga Anatomy page, you will find out that Volcano Percussion drums are a one of a kind drum in the World of Percussion.