Are you stuck trying to play a samba on the pandeiro? Whether you’re just now learning how to play the pandeiro or you’re an accomplished player looking to fill in some gaps or gather new approaches, this blog lesson is for you. I will share a practice routine that will guide you to playing a samba in 5 steps. It is important that you follow this guide step by step as each example plays a very important role in the construction of this version of samba. Each example builds upon the previous. Take your time. It’s not a race! Master each example on the pandeiro at various tempos before moving to the next.
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Samba is unarguably the most popular rhythm and style of music from Brazil. There are many different styles of samba that come from Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and many other states throughout Brazil. Every group in every region of the country has their own unique approach to playing samba and the instruments associated with this music. If you want to call yourself a complete pandeiro player (whatever that means to YOU), you must have a holistic understanding of how to play samba on the pandeiro. And the more approaches you have under your belt, the better off you’ll be! The example below is a style of playing samba that I learned from the great pandeiro player Marcos Suzano. I’ve modified it over the years, however most of the original concept that I learned from Suzano have remained in place.
Keep in mind that this approach is all based on the “GRID Technique” which I discuss in this Choosing The Right Technique blog. If you’re confused by the term Grid Technique I suggest you go back to this previous blog post and begin with the technique exercises before getting into this lesson. Also, please keep in mind that these are exercises to help you develop the facility and technique needed to play a samba on the pandeiro. These patterns don’t define a samba groove as much as the swing feel does. You have to work on the swing feel as much as you work on the technique. It don’t mean a thang if it ain’t got that……. You dig!
Now, let’s start our 5 step samba practice routine. Step #1 is all Heel-Toe-Heel-Toe with an accent on the “e” of beat 1 & 2. This accent is IMPORTANT! Don’t ignore it. This accent will help you develop your samba swing feel.
Step #2 adds a muted slap tone in the center of the pandeiro in Zone 3. (Visit blog post about the 3 pandeiro zones) THS=Thumb Slap.
Step #3 is important as you will add the surdo part with a bass tone played with the thumb. B=Bass with thumb. You will begin to recognize the samba groove on thihs step.
Step #4 adds a new pick up accent on the “ah” of beat 1. TS=Toe Slap. You will play with your finger tips in the center of the drum (zone 3) getting a light slap sound as opposed to the louder open hand slap tone.
Now lets finish our samba pattern with Step #5 where we’ll add an open bass tone pick up on the “ah” of beat 2. BT=Bass Toe (finger tips). Once you master this step you should be able to begin to imitate an escola de samba groove of the 2nd and 3rd surdo parts.
Remember to take your time and use a metronome with all of these examples. Feel free to write a comment with your feedback.
Your partner in groove,