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The Instruments of Samba

Surdo
Surdo
The surdo is a large double-headed drum which is played with a large padded beater or baqueta, while the weak hand is used to muffle the sound and provide a rhythmic guide for the player. The word surdo literally means 'deaf' and it is the heart-beat of the bateria. It provides a straight two-four rhythm, in which the main beat is muffled, while the second beat is accented. When there are additional players, several surdos are used to play a syncopated rhythm .
Tamborim
Tambourim
Specifically an instrument played in Rio samba, the tamborim is a small single- headed hand 4" drum that can be struck with a thin stick to produce a sharp timbre. The forefinger is used to muffle the sound from behind the membrane during rhythmic syncopations. The more common stick used is multi-pronged and very flexible. The drum is also turned and hit on an upstroke. In samba schools the tamborins are often placed at the front of the ensemble, and the musicians perform choreographic routines with the instrument as they play.
Caixa
Caixa
The caixa is a double-headed snare-type drum which is played with two sticks. Unlike the snare drum, the caixa has it's snare composed of 2 or 4 wires/cables on the top head of the drum. It generally plays in a variety of different ways to produce interesting cross-rhythms within the bateria.This drum can be played at navel level, "em baixo" or held with one arm at head height, "em cima".
Malacacheta
Malacacheta
The malacacheta is a double-headed snare drum that is played with two sticks. It is played in exactly the same way as the caixa. Being a slightly deeper/longer drum it is easier to keep stable when played em baixo. The malacacheta is more common in the bateria than the caixa.
Pandeiro
Pandeiro
The pandeiro is a the Brazilian equivalent of the classical tambourine and is the national instrument of Brazil. It is a single-headed frame drum with jingles, "Pratinelas", that are loosely arranged in pairs around the sides of the instrument. The difference is that the jingles are cupped around a flat plate. The basic rhythm of the pandeiro is a stream of semi-quavers, each with a distinct timbre produced by the unique playing technique used for the instrument. In a parade, exponents of this instrument will be seen juggling with it. It's too quiet to be used in a bateria setting and is more for pagode, samba in small groups.
Cuica
Cuica
The cuíca is a single-headed Brazilian friction drum, in which sound is produced by rubbing a short, thin, carved bamboo cane attached to the membrane on the inside of the instrument. It produces an unearthly sound and exceptional pitch range; hence its popularity as a solo instrument. The pitch is altered by pressing the thumb against the skin near the node where the cane is tied. It was probably introduced to Brazil by Bantu slaves, though there are also types of friction drums in various parts of Europe.
Agogo
Agogo
The agogô is a double or triple cone-shaped bell played with a metal or wooden stick. The term is of Yoruba origin, and indeed the agogô is used in many African-Brazilian religious rites.
Reco-Reco
Reco-Reco
The reco-reco is a scraper which produces sound by drawing a metal rod across the corrugated grooves of one or more metal springs. Alterations of timbre can be achieved by placing the thumb of the weak hand across the springs for particular notes. In some regions of Brazil the reco-reco is known as 'reso-reso', 'raspador' or 'casaca', and it is used in a variety of African-Brazilian traditions in both rural and urban contexts.
Chocalho
Chocalho

The chocalho is a type of two-handed shaker that is an aluminum frame of pratinelas set out like an abacus. The chocalho section, within the bateria, will often use some choreography in the same way as the tamborim section. Do not be fooled into thinking that this is an easy instrument to play, stamina and efficiency of movement are required here as it is played at or above head height. It contributes heavily to the "swing" of the bateria.

Rocar
Rocar

The rocar is another type of shaker. It uses the same pratinelas as the chocalho but they are arranged at each end of a 1" square bar of wood. It can be played with one or two hands and is a little lighter than the ganzá. Care must be taken with this instrument if played at head height as the ends of the pratinela baring rods are exposed.

Ganza
Ganza

The ganzá is another type of shaker. It is an aluminum cylinder filled with beads or gravel. They come as singles, doubles and sometimes triples. The chocalho is favored in the bateria because it is louder than the ganzá.

Shekere
Shekere

The shekere is another type of shaker. It is the Nigerian Yoruba name for a gourd instrument with a net of beads strung around it. It is played by shaking the beads and striking the gourd. Some skilled players are able to juggle this instrument while keeping time. It's more widely used in Northern Brazil.

Timba
Timba

The timba is usually played with two hands. It is designed as a light weight conga, or "atabaque" for parading. lt can also be played like a "tan-tan", using the low tone to mark double time with one hand on the head and the other playing counterpoint on the shell. It is used mostly in the samba reggae playing "blocos" of the North East.

Apito
Apito
The apito is a short high-pitched whistle with one, two or no finger holes. Some apitos have a captive pellet to add a roll to the sound, similar to a football referee's whistle. The apito plays a key role in the batucada, as it is blown by the conductor and used to direct the sambistas. It is difficult to hold this particular metal apito between your teeth if you are playing a drum. A small referee's whistle is used normally to cut through the volume of the bateria. There are plastic versions of the tri-tone apito.

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