Samba: its roots and conventions.
Samba is the rhythm of Brazil, a musical style that emerged from African rhythms brought by slaves to Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. Samba iswidely thought to be directly descended from the batuque, a circle dance performed by the slaves of Brazil’s colonial plantations, which was imbued with a spiritual force.
Samba is inseparable fromthe Carnaval. Samba has always been intrinsically linked to the annual carnival celebrations held in Brazil, especially in the city Rio de Janeiro.
Samba music is in 2/4 time (in two) with ahigh bass drum beat on the first beat, a lower foundation beat on the second beat, and highly syncopated rhythms played over the top. A bateria plays the rhythmical part, while melody instruments andsingers play the tunes.
Samba can be performed by a single guitarist or a mob and there are a variety of types of samba or sub-styles. These include: samba de morro (or batucada), samba-canção,and bossa nova.
In a batucada, an ensemble produces more than a simple percussion jam session. Percussion is the bare bones of Samba, but the larger Bateria (percussion group) ensembles withinthe Samba Schools make breathtakingly complex walls of sound. The throbbing heartbeat of the surdo drum (somewhere between a bass drum and a tom-tom) underpins rattling snares, layers of hand-heldpercussion instruments such as agogos (bells), ganzas (metal tubes filled with beads that you shake), tambourims (a bit like small tamborines which you hit with a split stick), and the panting, surrealshrieks and moans of the cuica, a friction drum.
The bateria is an array of drummers and other percussionists led by a director, or maestre, who conducts and signals with whistles the variousbreaks, solos, whoops and hollers.
The relationship between Samba and Brazil's huge Carnaval festivals is a byword. The word "Carnaval" is derived from the Latin and refers to the penitential...