The Samba Workshop – How it Works

Our Samba drumming workshops here at MWC introduce the instruments and rhythms of Brazilian carnival music. Participants form a Samba band using a range of traditional drums, and within half an hour can be playing exciting music together, achieving new levels of communication and performance skills and enhancing team building in an energetic, informal way. Samba drumming is a really inclusive way of creating music; perfect for participants of all ages and abilities. Add an experienced workshop leader and you have a session which is enjoyable and interactive right from the start.

Samba Hand SignalsSamba is music for dancing. It originates from Brazil, predominantly Rio de Janeiro, with its roots in African, Spanish, Portugese and Cuban music. A Samba band, or Bateria, normally consists of a selection of lightweight percussion instruments. These include tamborims which are small, hand held drums, snare drums or caixas, agogô bells which are hand held double bells with a cowbell sound, played with a wooden stick, surdos, the large, aluminium framed bass drums which are often carried with a strap across the shoulders, and ganzas, or shakers. The band will also have a leader who directs call and response, brings in and stops instruments, calls breaks in the rhythm and directs changes in the tempo. This is done using hand signals and a high-pitched drum called a repenique, or, more frequently, a whistle called an apito.

Samba is made up of different sections of music which move flowingly from one to another. Generally the music will begin with a call and response, with the leader calling and the group repeating back the rhythm. There will often be a rehearsed element of call and response, the rhythm of which will become the groove or main rhythm of the piece

In the main body of the piece, each instrument has a particular rhythm to play. This is repeated many times, creating a polyrhythmic sound from the many drums of different pitches, and a huge buzz of energy for the players.

The piece ends by returning to the call and response ideas, with a pre-rehearsed ending, or just by stopping.

Samba InstrumentsThe main groove becomes more complex and exciting with the addition of breaks, which are shown by the leader. These are points where instruments may play different rhythms or all the players play the same rhythm, where certain instruments may play on their own or there may be a vocal break or even a silent break. Each break then leads back into the main groove. The leader’s job is to ensure that everyone changes at the same time, which is done with hand signals and a clear count given on the whistle.

Samba LeaderAll of the parts of a Samba piece can be easily learned within a workshop. Samba is very accessible because it doesn’t require instrumental or notational knowledge and is learned on percussion instruments which are easy to hold and play. Workshops can last anything from 30 minutes to a whole day, and the simple form with clear leadership gives a real sense of performance as the rhythms and structure come together. The physical energy and instinctive feel of group drumming creates a natural team, eradicates inhibitions and fills participants with energy and a sense of fun.

Contact us to book a Samba workshop for your school, community group or business.

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