Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Escola de Samba Patterns for Drumset

If you visit the blog often, you'll know that last year I had four articles in Modern Drummer magazine concerning the adaptation of samba batucada rhythms to the drum set.

Seeing as how the issues have been out for six months or more now, I figured the guys at MD wouldn't mind if I posted a little preview of the articles here; especially as carnival was last week.  This is certainly not all of it, so you should definitely check out the May, August, September, and October 2014 issues of Modern Drummer for lots more.

Many of us gringoes tend to think of samba (or other styles with which we are less familiar) as nothing more than a pattern, rather than music.  It is also common to think that there is one "right" way to play samba.  This simply isn't the case.  Samba just like jazz, rock, etc., is a style of music, within which there can be numerous variations.  Sure, there's a specific feel, and characteristic elements, but there are many different ways that we can get this point across.  Nearly all of the samba schools in Brazil have their own way of playing samba.  In the MD articles I go into a lot more detail about each, but here I have a little sample sheet for you containing some of the characteristic sounds of Rio.

On this sheet an x on the snare signifies a rim shot

The ideas on this sheet will produce quite a different effect than your typical jazz samba, and can be a refreshing change of pace.  These approaches are good for those of you that prefer a more folkloric sound.  And they are particularly handy when you encounter break-neck speeds.  If your right hand isn't quick enough for that steady stream of 16th notes, and you don't want a heavily syncopated sound a la "Meu Fraco É Café Forte" you can attack your snare drum with one of the above rhythms.  They work really well with brushes too.

Also, bear in mind that although each school has their unique way of play samba which they pretty strictly adhere to, there is nothing wrong with mixing and matching the caixa pattern from one school with the surdo pattern from another.  In fact, newer groups will often do just that as they develop their own style, much like you would combine various ideas from your favorite drum set players to create your own unique sound.  Play around with numerous different combinations of hand and foot patterns.  To create the surdo effect we often need to use the floor tom in conjunction with the bass drum, so it may be necessary to alter your stickings to make certain combinations work.

While you're at it, check out this year's carnival champion, Beija Flor:

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