The Instruments of Samba
The Repinique is the leading drum in a samba "bateria" (band of drummers). In smaller samba bands the Repinique is the conductor's drum. It is mostly played with one hand and one stick and is used for calls ("chamadas"), leading in breaks ("paradinhas") and soloing.
Pictured is a 12 inch Repinique
Generally there are three sizes of Surdo: the Primeira (largest); the Secunda (middle-sized); the Terceiro (smallest). Surdos are bass drums that each play a different rhythm and form the backbone of Samba compositions. They are the heart beat of the band.
Pictured is a 20" surdo.
Agogo bells come in many sizes and may be made of wood or metal. There is a minimum of two tones for the agogo, however, they come with 3 - 4 differently toned bells. In carnival Samba a classic metal two tone or 4 tone bell is most frequently used.
Pictured is a two tone metal Agogo.
The Tamborim is a small drum, but do not be fooled by its size. When slapped with a special multi-pronged stick, the Tamborim makes a hellishly loud sound. The tamborim is a fantastic showcase instrument when played by experienced Sambistas in a traditional turn, the Virado, to form a Carreteiro, or ongoing rapid fire drumming phrases known in Brazil as desenhos.
Pictured is a 6 inch Tamborim being played with a multiple pronged stick.
Caixa and Tarol
The Caixa de guerra ("war box") and Tarol are snare drums. They are essential to achieving a Brazilian swing needed in good samba instrumentation. Generally the Caixa is deeper and played hanging from the waist or "em cima" - from the shoulder. The Tarol is generally played upon the shoulder or under the arm. These drums have the unique feature of the snares being strapped across the top head, rather than the underside of the drum as is the convention in European snare playing.
Pictured is a Caixa "em cima" (played on the shoulder).
The Ganza is an aluminium cylindrical shaker filled with beads. They come in either single or fused double shaker form. To play a Ganza well is no mean feat: you need to shake it in a way that forms the distinctive Samba swing and have a good sense of timing. Once mastered, it is a formidable instrument that allows the user to dance freely whilst playing. The ganza has largely been superseded by the much louder Chocalho, a shaker comprised of multiple bells. The Ganza, however, remains a standard feature of smaller samba bands.
Pictured are two single Ganza.
The Cuica is a friction drum which produces an array of funny sounds. Unlike most drums, the cuica is not hit with either a hand or a stick. A thin bamboo stick is set into the skin and is rubbed with a damp cloth in order to produce the distinctive ape-like sounds that give this drum the popular name of the laughing monkey drum. Some say that the drum sounds like a forest bird that shares a similar name or it was a drum that evolved from an instrument that was used to emulate the sound of a female lion.
The Pandeiro is similar to a European tambourine and is played with combinations of thumb striking, finger striking and wrist striking. The Pandeiro also fortunately doubles as a juggling tool (the art of "malabaraism"). Although the Pandeiro is frequently used in Pagode and kitchen Samba (played with what ever is at the table - one of our favourite Samba forms!), it is often used in the Carnival to help keep time for the Cavaquinho players, singers and dancers.
More instruments to be added as we acquire them.......
The above is a list of the instruments we use at present. As we acquire more instruments, we will continue our descriptions.