What instruments are found in a samba band? Brazilian percussion instruments
What instruments are found in a samba band? Brazilian percussion instruments
A samba band usually includes surdos, kaishas, repinikis, tambourines, and shakers. They can also use timba, chokalo and agogo.
This is usually a double metal bell with a flexible handle. The two bells are of different tuning. The agogo is held in one hand and struck with a stick held in the other hand. Most experts hold the agogo with the hand holding the bell rather than the handle – this gives the bells a sillier tone, which is the right sound for a samba. It is believed to be one of the oldest instruments in the samba band; before being introduced into samba, it was used to provide the structure of Baiao, Maracatu, Capoeira and religious cults of African origin. A newer form of Agogo is a large heavy iron model with 4 bells.
A berimbau is a wooden or bamboo bow with a metal string and a gourd that acts as a sound box. You strike the metal wire with a wooden stick and move the berimbau to and from the body to change the tone of the sound box. The sound that is produced is unique and is often used for special effects. This is a very ancient instrument. In Brazil, it is most used in the Afro-Brazilian rhythms of the Northeast, especially capoeira, but has found a place in jazz and other modern music due to its unique sound. Not usually used in samba groups.
MILITARY BOX (Kesh-ah)
Samba snare drum. The Caixa is a descendant of the European marching drum, but adapted to be much lighter. The Caixa is a metal cylinder with a nylon skin at both ends and a string loop at the top of the playing end. The best caixas are made of aluminum. Caixas can be of different widths and depths; the standard size caixa used in Rio baterias is 12″ wide and 15 or 20 cm deep.
It is a metal or wooden frame carrying many metal bells. This is a VERY STRONG samba shaker. It is an essential element in the flavor of a large samba percussion ensemble and also has the important function of helping the caixas keep the beat. Famously described by the Times of London as “a cross between an abacus and a tambourine”
Cuica is a friction drum. It has a metal cylindrical body with a skin at one end and a stick attached to the center of the skin, protruding back through the drum body. The kuika is played by rubbing the stick with a damp cloth. It sounds like a series of moans – and is said to imitate the sound of a monkey and to have been used in hunting by Brazilian Indian tribes. Traditionally used by samba schools; produces an exotic sound that changes the timbre of the battery. A real cuica has a leather skin with a thick aluminum body and should be adjustable. Serious quiches are 30 cm deep and between 8 and 10 inches wide; anything less is really just a toy and won’t be heard in a samba band.
Hollow closed cylindrical shaker, ranging from pocket size to arm’s length, single or double. The ganza is much quieter than the chocalho and is not used much in the big Brazilian batteries as it cannot be heard. But it is still widely used in small groups and in teaching. A tool of traditional importance in batteries, where it had the same function as a chocalo.
A term referring to surdos, which are the large drums that mark the beat.
A small light instrument, like a tambourine, but with a different sound. The head is hit with great skill using a combination of pats, slaps, rimshots and rolls. A skilled pandeiro player can reproduce almost anything a drum kit can. Pandeiros can have wooden, plastic or fiberglass frames and brass or metal jungles and plastic or hidden heads. In samba, the pandeiro is used both for rhythmic support and as a solo instrument. It is used a lot in bands playing many different styles of Brazilian music, in the samba and capoeira schools.
A repique or repique is a lightweight samba kettle drum, with nylon skins at both ends. The best samba repins are made of aluminum for both sound quality and lightness, although you can find repins made of iron or even wood. In Rio, samba is played with one wooden stick while the other hand hits the drum. Repique should not have more than 8 single struts; they already both muffle the sound and don’t leave enough room for the hand to hit the drum without hitting the ears. 6 ears are favored in Rio. In other styles of Brazilian music, the repenique is played with a pair of flexible plastic sticks. The repinic was introduced to Rio batteries in the 1950s. Its function is to complement the tamborim and support the surdo. It is also used as a solo and lead instrument, with its solos providing the right speed for the entrance of the other instruments.
MAO’S RIP – this is a special hand replica developed especially for pagoda. It has a metal body and a nylon skin on one end only.
Surdo is a large bass drum that keeps the rhythm of the rest of the band. Surdos have heads at both ends. Heads are used in Rio. The best samba marching band surdos have aluminum bodies because they are light and strong. Surdos can also be found with wooden bodies (fragile) and iron bodies (heavy). The surdo is considered the heart of the battery and is responsible for marking and maintaining the rhythm of all the other instruments. The first or Primeiro surdo strikes strongly on the measure, and the second or segundo strikes on the second part of the measure, answering to the primeiro.
This is a small frame drum with a 6″ nylon skin and must be adjustable. Originally made in a square shape and with a leather head. This small drum is held in one hand and played with a special flexible stick (vareta) and in samba uses used to emphasize the strongest parts of a melody, providing punctuation for the melody. The first Brailsin tambourines were octagonal and covered with leather. There is a legend that they used to be covered with cat skin, but because it was fragile and easily torn, the legend may not be true. A single tamborim is spelled ‘m’, but the plural is tamborini.
ROUGHLY – a long pointed drum with a leather or nappa head at one end. It is used to take the place of a surdo in a small samba or pagoda group. It is played seated, resting on the player’s lap. The skin is struck with one hand while the body is patted with the other.
The tarol is a thin samba drum, usually no more than 10 cm deep. From the same family as the caixa da Guerra, it has a defining influence on the rhythmic identity of the bateria. Often used for shoulder play; instead of being supported by a belt at waist level, it is tucked into one arm, high at chest level.
The third surdo is a minor surdo. This is the cutting surdo, also known as the Surdo Centrador or Cutador, and is used with creative freedom, but remains responsible for battery swing. It fills the intervals between the first and second heartbeats.
BUCKET – conical drum of fiberglass, metal or wood with a plastic head at one end – marching drum. Adult timbas are usually 70 or 90cm deep – short people should use a 70cm timba. The timba is played upright using plastic flexible sticks or drums, or it can also be played by hand. It is used in styles from Northeast Brazil, such as samba reggae. Although it is a traditional drum, it was almost obsolete in Brazil until Carlinhos Brown rediscovered it for his band Timbalada in the 1980s.
The traditional Brazilian samba whistle is a 3-tone whistle made of wood. The real ones are very loud and easily heard over 30 or 40 drummers. The whistle is used to attract the attention of the drummers and to regulate the speed of the samba band. But the 3-tone samba whistle can also be used as an instrument in its own right.
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