Many different types of drums are played in samba bands, whose interlacing rhythms make exciting, funky samba music. Here are the main types of drums played by Coventry School of Samba:
The surdo is the biggest drum of all and it provides the bass line for samba grooves. They come in many different tones and are made from wood or aluminium. They are played with beaters. In Brazil these drums are often highly decorated for carnivals. They are attached by a belt around the waist, a shoulder strap or a harness. In addition shin pads and gloves are often needed! We currently have about 9 of these drums in Coventry School of Samba and together they make a very impressive sound.
The caixa is in effect a snare drum on which you play fast, repetitive rhythms, which drive the groove along and maintain the rhythm. They are played with two sticks. These, like the surdo, are also attached to the player by a belt around the waist. Coventry School of Samba has 3 caixa players.
The agogo is thought to be one of the oldest instruments in the world. They are made out of metal and have two connected bells which make different tones when hit with a stick. They are the only melodic instrument in samba. Coventry School of Samba has a strong agogo section.
This small drum can be played very fast whilst alternating direction with the stick and turning the tamborim over to make different sounds- it can also be dampened with the thumb to make a different, more subdued tone if needed. It sounds quite cheeky and is played with a stick.
Also called the rocar, The chocalho is a large, powerful shaker, made out of wood or metal, which is often the driving force of samba grooves and helps the other players to keep time. It consists of a large frame containing several discs which collide when shaken with both hands to produce a surprisingly loud sound. You need earplugs to play it.
Pronounced 'hepaniki', this is the weapon of choice of our group leader Dave or sometimes Fiona. This metal drum can be played with great variety as it can produce so many different tones and is often the instrument used to introduce and end songs and breaks. It is played with sticks or hands and is held on by a belt around the waist.
The internet says this is a "great utility drum", a cross between an african djembe and a surdo, with a deep tone. You usually play this with your hands and carry it attached to a belt around your waist.
A whistle of this kind is sometimes called an apito. They are made traditionally in wood but also in metal and plastic versions like the one in this picture. They have two or three tones. The apito is used by the leader of the group to introduce and end grooves, introduce the beginning and ends of breaks and sometimes to play solos during the groove, although there is a limit to what you can do with three tones.