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I'm a song-writer (a guitar player) and I need to write drum parts for myself. I discovered how cool the brazilian samba carnival percussion is (not the watered down European jazz-samba), but haven't succeeded in finding good material for learning the patterns, the feel.

I tried learning from downloading and using pre-recorded loops, but these are very hard to find online.

Do you know where I should start? (Books, youtube videos, links, anything...)

Also, any tips on some great recordings (which are also hard to find, as search results for samba are mainly jazz-samba or electronic music - not the authentic original material).

Update

I think I was not completely clear, and so the question became too broad. I worked on the questions:

  • What are the styles/main grooves played by Brazilian samba drum ensembles?
  • Can you give me examples of them? (either by video, or by rhythm sheet)
  • Where can I learn about how these styles are constructed? (Main and counter rhythms, using accents, how do they do deviate from straight, "Western" feel, which makes up the groove, what is essential in recognizing the groove, where you can "play" with the rhythm)

I can cut up this broad question into many concrete, smaller ones, when I, at least, know of the main styles/grooves, as samba is an umbrella term, like rock, I think.

Update 2

Tips for other people interested in listening to percussion:

Keywords for searching videos: bateria, escola, samba, enredo

A playlist:

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1  
I'm Brazilian. What kind of Samba are you talking about? I can Help you :) –  Tico Dec 21 '13 at 2:29
    
Carnival drum ensembles. I have a Zero G library it has, Samba Um/Tres/Dois/Lento/Quatro/Rapido folders and Maxixe, Dragoes and Axe :). Great starting point if they are referring to styles. Also I'm interested in odd rhythms as well (7/4, 5/4, etc.). I'm hungry :). –  atoth Dec 22 '13 at 19:33

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sorry about the delay. First thing, Samba is basically 4/4 or 2/4, I really can't remember any song with odd time signature. If you do, please let me know! I like listening to odd time signatures.

The thing is, while being very "simple", Samba is also very complicated. As you noticed, you have a lot of different types of it. I'm not a Samba expert, but I dare to say that "real" Samba is kind of Lento like this, songs about love, everyday events and such.

There's also Bossa Nova, which is another type of Samba. The example is an old Samba performed by João Gilberto (he is credited as the creator of Bossa Nova). To exemplify my statement that Samba is simple yet complicated, look at the way the harmony, tempo, chord progression, voice and a "no music rules" way that he plays.

Today's Samba is called Pagode, it is faster, happier, it is music for the masses. On the other hand, there's a singer - Vanessa da Mata - that takes Samba as an "elite" status, just like early days Samba was (sort of). Here's a remix of a song featuring Ben Harper - Boa Sorte (Good Luck) - I believe that's the kind of thing you want to do (although the video sucks).

Unfortunately, I can't remember another artist that provides a performance that goes well with remixes.

Hope I helped in some way.


EDIT :

Let's see:

  • What are the styles/main grooves played by Brazilian samba drum ensembles?

Thinking in terms of percussion, do a Youtube search for "enredo escola de samba". Enredo is the story that the Samba schools sings, dance, homage during the carnival. It may be based on some folkloric history, real history, a person, the Samba school it self.

I believe that the "drum lines" are relatively the same, except for the transitions and such. Rio de Janeiro's carnival is one of the biggest events in our country (I don't like it, personally).Famous Samba schools includes: Mangeuira, Beija-Flor, Salgueiro, etc...

  • Can you give me examples of them? (either by video, or by rhythm sheet)

The videos speaks for themselves. The Bateria (drums) is one of the most important categories and if they screw-up, it may cost the "Championship" for the school. As you'll see in the videos, the whole crew makes up the vibe. The costumes, the allegory, SFX, even the crowd. This video is a compilation of 50 songs, the uploader claims to be the all time Top 50.

  • Where can I learn about how these styles are constructed? (Main and counter rhythms, using accents, how do they do deviate from straight, "Western" feel, which makes up the groove, what is essential in recognizing the groove, where you can "play" with the rhythm)

Though question. If you ask this to a member of the bateria he'll probably claim that you either "have it" or not. I can stress enough how complicated and yet simple Samba is. Is all about swing, knowing your timing, improvising. As we say here, you gotta have the manha (the only translation I can think of is "craftiness"). So, watch the videos, see how they "don't care" about keeping tempo, time signature, and yet they know exactly what they're doing. I believe that it all sums up to: Have fun.


PS: João Gilberto is a genius.

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Thanks for the answer! I had even looked for keywords for searching youtube, like "bateria escola samba". –  atoth Jan 8 at 11:01
    
@atoh Have you seen the carnival this year, some 'escola de samba' played very well. –  Tico Mar 5 at 20:41

From my experience, the feel is the most difficult thing to get familiar with in music. It takes years and years of playing and listening the kind of music (it might not be so many years on some kind of musics).

Since you want to learn, you might want to start with some more simple percussive rhythms. At first, it won't be the result you want right now, but after some time you'll get there.

I found some link that might be of help to you:

Understanding the Samba Groove

Latin Rhythms - Samba Patterns

Drum Lessons : How to Play a Samba Drum Beat

Samba Reggae Class with Marcus Santos

Basic Samba Batucada Lesson with Marcus Santos

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I would start by listening to a few different Brazilian Samba pieces and just try and count them. After a while, you should have an idea what kind of time signature they follow. From there I would notate what beats are accented. From that you should be able to understand the feel and make a drum track that has a similar feel.

It may not be the exact same, but it will give you a place to start and something to work towards.

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That's my guess as well, but I don't even know what to enter on youtube/online stores to get me to the authentic stuff I'd like to reverse engineer. –  atoth Dec 22 '13 at 19:35

If you look for Michael de Miranda in Youtube he explains quite a few brazilian rhythms. https://www.youtube.com/user/mdm2230

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