Learn To Play the Vals Tonada Rhythm

Interested in learning how to play a Vals Tonada with a Cuatro? This lesson at TuCuatro will help you to learn how to play this exotic rhythm, used regional music found in the plains between Colombian and Venezuela.

Although we will use a Cuatro musical instrument to explain this rhythm, feel free to go through the lesson if you’re using any other instrument, as the rhythm pattern will apply to all stringed instruments.

There are several variations of Waltz or Vals (as we will be referring to it from now on), the most popular of which being:

  • Vals Criollo
  • Vals Pasaje
  • Vals Tonada

There are several similarities between them, we will, however, be looking at them individually and the differences/similarities will become noticeable.

The rhythm of Vals Tonada consists of two strums followed by a silence in the third strum. This can be viewed within the illustration below:

Rhythm Pattern


From the illustration above and the video below, you can notice that to learn the rhythm of Vals Tonada one does not require including a “chasquido” or “frenado”. There are simple strums and silences. This all comes together by playing with a constant tempo which you will be able to notice in the video demonstrations. The tempo is key here, which is why it is important to ensure that there is a consistent tempo and ensure that you practice slowly prior to increasing your speed of play.

Check out the video below on how the Vals Tonada is played and try to copy the rhythm on your own Cuatro. As always, start off without marking any chords and once you’ve gotten the hang of it you can start to introduce a number of chords slowly.

How does the Vals Tonada sounds

Within the next video, professor Luis Natera will explain the Vals Tonada in more detail. The demonstration he provides gives a good insight as to how the technicalities of the rhythm are to be played. He mentions that the most important form of playing this rhythm is using the index finger for downward motions and the thumb for the ascending motions. Make use of this video as an example as professor Natera gives a full demonstration (ensure that the English Subtitles are ON).

Vals Tonada Explanation Luis Natera

The chords referred to in the demonstration of Sabana by Simon Diaz are B Minor, F#7 and E Minor. Try to mimic the play by Luis Natera and make use of these chords applied to the rhythm of Vals Tonada and generate a beautiful, special piece.

Vals Tonada Demonstration Chords:

Do you want to keep track of your. progress? Register an account now to mark lessons as complete.