|About Brazilian Percussion Instruments|
|Written by Giselle|
|Friday, 17 July 2009 11:14|
Find out about Brazilian Percussion Instruments
What are the main instruments found in a samba band?
A samba band uses Brazilian samba drums, including surdos, caixas, repiniques, tamborins and shakers.
There are three types of percussion instruments in a samba band. First there are the big bass drums, which hold the beat. Next there is the middle section, the caixas, chocalhos and repiniques - (and sometimes timbas) which fill in this beat with a detailed rhythm, creating its complexity. Finally there are the percussion extras, the tamborim, agogo, pandeiro and cuica, which elaborate on the rhythm.
There are other Brazilian percussion instruments that rarely belong in a samba band. These include the berimbau, the triangle and the zabumba.
This is a double metal cowbell with a flexible handle. The two bells have different tuning. The agogo is held in one hand and hit with a stick held in the other hand.
The berimbau is a wooden or bamboo bow with a metal string, and a gourd which acts as a soundbox. You hit the metal wire with a wooden stick and move the berimbau away from and towards the body to change the tone of the soundbox. The sound this produces is unique, and often used for special effects. This is a very ancient instrument. In Brazil it is most used in Afro Brazilian rhythms from the North East, especially Capoeira, but it has found a place in Jazz and other modern musics because of its unique sound. It is not usually used in samba bands.
CAIXA DE GUERRA (Cash-ah)
Samba snare drum. 'The term Caixa de Gueira actually means 'box of war'. The samba caixa is a descendant of the european marching drum, but it has been adapted to be much lighter. The Brazilian caixa is a very important part of any samba band, as it creates the complex rhythms that can give a samba school its unique sound.
CHOCALHO / ROCAR
The chocalho or Rocar is a metal or wooden frame carrying many metal jingles. It is a VERY LOUD samba shaker. A Rio samba school bateria uses 20- 30 of these during its parades. The loud swishing sound is a very important element in the total sound of a samba band.
The cuica is a friction drum. It has a metal cylindrical body with a hide skin at one end, and a stick secured to the centre of the skin, protruding back through the body of the drum. The cuica is played by rubbing the stick with a damp cloth. It is a very ancient instrument and produces a hooting noise, sounding a bit like a monkey!
A Ganzar is a hollow closed cylindrical shaker, varying from pocket sized to arm length, and single or double. Modern ganzas are made from metal, and have small pebbles or beads inside to make a swishing sound when shaken.
This word referrs to the surdo drums, which are the big drums that mark the beat of a samba band. Everyone in the band needs to hear this beat, so they can stay in time with each other.
A small light instrument, it looks like a tambourine, but has a different sound. It is held in one hand and struck with the other, with great skill, using a combination of taps, slaps, rim shots and rolls. A skilled pandeiro player can replicate almost anything a drum kit can do. In samba the pandeiro is used both for rhythmic backing and as a solo instrument. Pandeiros are popular in bands playing many different styles of Brazilian music, in Samba Schools and in Capoeira.
The repinique or repique is a lightweight samba kettle drum, with nylon skins at both ends. In Rio samba repiques are played with one wooden stick, with the other hand slapping the drum. In other Brazilian music the repenique can be played with a pair of flexible plastic sticks. The repinique was introduced into Rio baterias in the 1950's. It is also used as a solo and lead instrument, with its solos supplying the correct speed for the entrance of the other instruments.
REPIQUE DE MAO -
this is a special hand repique developed especially for pagode . It has a metal body and a nylon skin at one end only.
The surdo is a big bass drum, which holds the beat for the rest of the group. Surdos have heads at both ends; in Rio the heads are hide. Surdo means 'deaf' in Portuguese. Surdos can be made of aluminium, iron (heavy) or wood (fragile). The surdo is the heart of the samba school bateria as it marks the beat and is responsible for keeping all of the other instruments in time. There are three types of surdo (primeira, segunda and teirceira). Surdos are also called marcacao (markers) because they mark the beat.
This is a little frame drum with a 6" nylon skin, and should be tunable. The tamborim was originally made in an octangular shape and with a skin head. This little drum is held in one hand and played with a special flexible stick (vareta) and in samba it is used to highlight the strongest parts of a tune, providing punctuation for the melody. (One tamborim is spelt with an 'm', but the plural is tamborins)
A tantan (or rebolo) is a long tapered drum with a hide or Napa head at one end. You play the tantan sitting down, with the drum resting across your lap. The skin is hit with one hand whilst the body is tapped with the other. In small pagode groups the tan-tan can do the work of a surdo drum, holding the beat, so that the other musicians and singers stay in time with each other.
The tarol is a slim line samba snare drum typically no more than 10cm deep. From the same family as the caixa da Guerra, it helps to create the rhythmic identity of a bateria. The tarol sounds the same as a normal caixa but it isn't as loud. It is often used for playing up on the shoulder; instead of being supported by a belt at waist level it is cradled in one arm, high up at chest level.
A conical drum made of fiberglass, metal or wood with a plastic head at one end - a marching drum. Adult sized timbas are usually 70 or 90cm deep - short people should use the 70cm timba. The timba is played upright, using plastic flexible whippy sticks or drumsticks, or can be played by hand too. It is used in styles from North Eastern Brazil, such as samba reggae. Although this is a traditional drum it was almost obsolete in Brazil until Carlinhos Brown reinvented it for his band Timbalada in the 1980s.
The traditional Brazilian samba whistle is a 3 tone whistle made of wood. Genuine wooden samba whistles are very loud and can be heard easily over 30 or 40 drummers. The whistle is used to catch the attention of the drummers and to regulate the speed of the samba band. And a 3 tone samba whistle can also be used as an instrument in its own right.