Brazilian Drums: Incredible Sound of Samba Drumming

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Brazilian Drums are best known for the sound of samba. Brazil has the most diverse musical backgrounds and history among all countries of the world.  Brazil is very famous for its drums and rhythms like Samba, Maracatu, Samba Reggae and other afro-Brazilian rhythms. It is simply a part of Brazilian culture and lifestyle. Percussion instruments and drums are very often used in Brazilian music to create interesting rhythms. Samba’s interlacing rhythms are made up of several different drums.

Brazilian Drums Explained: Learn about the Music in Brazil

The drums and the percussion instruments of Brazil are deeply ingrained in the history of African and South American cultures. These drums are best used for the sound of the Samba, but are also now used in many other genres of today’s popular music. Brazilian drums include:

and a few more, each with its own unique style , sound and purpose within Brazilian music.

 

Brazilian Drums more in detail:

The Tambourim – The smallest brazilian drum is the tambourim which is a small frame approximately six inches in diameter around with a plastic head. The Tambourim is held in left hand with thumb across the rim and remaining fingers curled inside to support the instrument. It is struck with a plastic stick, sometimes many small sticks bound together.  To get the best tone, strike the Tambourim slightly off center.   When struck, the Tamborim produces a very distinct and somewhat piercing sound.

Pandeiro – The pandeiro is a one-of-a kind of tambourim that has a single head with jingles around the rim that accentuate the strikes.  It is made of wood and 5 sets of jingles. The player holds the pandeiro in his weaker hand and then plays it by striking with the thumb, fingertips and the whole hand. The pandeiro can produce such a range of low, medium and high timbres and variety of sounds that it is widely considered ‘the complete percussion instrument’.

Surdo – The surdo is a large double-headed bass drum made with stainless steel or wood shell and is perhaps the most distinguishable of all of the other samba instruments, because of its deep loud sound providing the main fundamental beat of the samba rhythm. The Surdo suspended from the player’s neck by a strap and is played with a soft-headed stick and a bare hand or with two sticks. The free hand is used to open and close the sound of the drum. To produce the most significant sound of Surdo drums, strike them in the center. Surdo are the largest drums used but there are of 3 different sizes small, medium and large (most commonly used) to create different pitch and rhythm in beats.

The Repinique – The tenor drums in bacteria are called Repinique. They help complement and expand the Surdo beats. It is also suspended from the neck with a strap.  Played with one stick and a bare hand, or with two flexible plastic sticks, the repinique is a small, double-headed drum measuring approximately 12” in diameter by 12” deep that is tuned very high. The free hand is used for muffling or slapping strokes by striking the drums across the rim and head simultaneously. The shell is usually made of stainless steel or some other metals with plastic heads. The head is tensioned tight enough to produce that distinguishing sound of this instrument. It is always tuned so high that it produces a tone which cuts through the sound of all the other instruments of the bateria. It is usually the lead of bacteria, signaling breaks and starts and can also be used as solo instrument.

 

 

 

Cuica – The cuica is a single-headed Brazilian friction drum. Sound is produced in cuica drums by rubbing a thin, short and carved wooden cane attached to the membrane on the inside of the instrument. It produces a very distinct sound and has an exceptional pitch range.  A thin wooden stick is attached in the center of the drum head, reaching into the drum’s interior. It is also suspended from the neck with a strap and is held under one arm at chest height. The body is made of metal and it is also very popular as a solo instrument.

Caixa – The caixa is a small snare drum or the side drum, but has a much dryer and lighter sharp tone when the head is struck with drum sticks. The caixa also suspended from the neck with a strap is played at waist level using two sticks or can also be kept on stand to be played by seated drummer. It is usually the central piece of a drum set and is used in Brazilian percussion music or samba to provide supporting rhythms which carry the music forward and make it swing.  The caixa is made of two heads, both of plastic along with a clatter of metal wires on the bottom head which is called the snares.  

Atabaque – The atabaque is a tall, wooden hand congo drum. The head is made of animal skin and the shell is made of traditional jacaranda wood from Brazil. They are around 46” tall when standing and the playable head surface is 10” in diameter. A succession of ropes are tied or intertwined around the body, which connects a metal ring at the base of the drum to the head. The atabaque is used in marshal arts/dance/game of Capoeira, Maculelê and the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomble.

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