Trandemarks of Drums Section - Baterias de Carnaval
The Carnaval of Brazil is becoming more and more a full-year festivity, with several parties throughout the year. This may be a good time for lovers of this colorful folklore to learn even more about the world´s largest party. One of the subjects within the samba world that attract the most curiosity is the drummers sections, with all its vibrations, strength and vigor. Some samba-school drum sections can have up to 300 percussionists, with one general director ( Mestre de bateria ) and several assistants.
And do you know that in Rios Carnival, some samba-school drum sections have their own trademarks? Yes, this is true! After some training you will find out that it´s possible to identify one other samba-school drums sections´ specific characteristics like rhythm acceleration, beat or type of samba instruments used. Just like in marching bands, tunes can also become a trademark of a specific Drums Section. Let´s take a look at the some of the traditional marks of the most important drum sections in Rio samba-schools.
• Mangueira’s Samba-School Bateria is the easiest of the drum section trademarks to being distinguished: When the stick of a surdo beater is up, all sticks follow them and lower at the same time. This “beat move” was created by “Mestre de Bateria” ( Drums Section Master ) Lúcio Pato and is maintained until today. This is the only Drums Section conducted like this. The tune is the only one in the big surdos. The small ones and the tambourines, at times, make a cut. The late Master Valdomiro was the most famous director from Mangueira’s Drums Section.
• Mocidade Independente’s Drums Section has its basic mark in the third surdo and in the repique: the three beats of a third surdo, between the first and the second (the offbeat) confer a very special sound. Sebastião Estevão (Tião Miquinho) was the beat creator and Master André, the executor.
• Mocidade Independente brought its tambourines wing from the end of the “Bateria” / Drums Section. From 1984, observing an increase in the number of heavy instruments, they were placed in front of it. Master André also invented the rattles of batinela - which produced a sounds similar to the caixas. In then 1960’s, this Drums section became famous due to its “little stop”. In a specific moment of the samba song, the instruments make a silence, having just the repique playing the chorus (for a 30 seconds/1 minute time). The “restarting” brings up great enthusiasm to the school. The “trick”, however, was audacious since some critics accused the “boldness” of being dangerous, because it could cause the beat crossings.
Below, the famous agogô wing from Portela Drums, by Agencia FOTO BR
• At Império Serrano, Portela, and Tradição Samba-Schools, the agogôs wings excel. Also, they are most known drums sections that use many first and second surdos. The different agogôs’ apertures allow them to play the seven musical notes. Thus, complete melodic drawings are common in the “agogôs conventions” (they play regular known songs), giving a special color to the execution of these baterias.
• Portela’s Drums section, as a reference to the ‘Orchestra Tabajara’ of Severino Araújo, was considered the “Tabajara of Samba”, and still has as its basic characteristic the third surdo with the loosened leather, which was created in the 40’s by Mestre Sula. When the heavier samba beat from such surdo is played between the first and the second. The cuicas are also played in this moment, resulting in a special sound. It´s most famous director was the late Master Betinho. They are also famous for using cymbals.
• At Império Serrano Sambo-school, similar resources are used, but the instruments which enter together with the main surdos, (making them so powerful) are the tambourines and the caixas. Also, Imperio Serrano was the first school to have the Drums Section in full Carnival costumes at the parades, in the end of the 40’s. Calixto, a old component from the Bateria, also introduced the cymbals as samba instrument.
Here below, you will be able to see the Agogos ( Cowbells) and the Cymbals being used. Very few use Cymbals.
• Estácio de Sá Drums Section trademark is their strong repiques, emphasizing the beats, the taróis and the caixas, creating a good complement. Between the first and second surdos there are the repiniques emphasizing the rhythm.
If in one hand the Drummers take all the heat and responsibility, on the other they attract all the famous dancers, because of their vibration and vigor! Below, the muse from Renascer do Jacarepagua, taken by Alexandre Vidal.
Salgueiro’s Drums Section has its climax in the caixas and tambourines. Also, another distinction is the multiple rhythmic drawings of the several of the samba light instruments, creating a mix swing followed by many admirers.
• Beija-Flor de Nilópolis’s Drums Section has its biggest secret in the creative “tambourines conventions”, which receive “support” from the taróis and caixas rhythms.
• União da Ilha’s Drums Section has been considered one of the most innovative during the last years. Its “tambourines conventions” and the “little stops” make people literally stand up. The tambourines make several kinds of bossas, making a variation every year, in accordance with the theme-samba. Also, at the beginning, when the samba-de-enredo¬ starts to be played, the cymbals beat together with the first surdo: A striking trademark of Uniao da Ilha.
• At Imperatriz Leopoldinense Drums Section, the tambourines excel, being improved every year with new “conventions” created by Drum Section Masters Paulo Moura and Milton Manhães. The surdos repiniques offer a drum beat is characteristic of the school.
• Unidos da Tijuca’s Drums Section, named “Pura Cadência” has a strong beat and obtains a good balance thanks to first and second surdos, who do not swap. They also heavily rely on the third surdo, another trademark. The late Master Marçal was in charge of this Drums Section for many years. The current Drums Director is Master Casagrande.
• Caprichosos de Pilares’ Drums Section has caixas with a slower cadence, similar to the jongo beat. The caixas excel by duet performed with the centralized surdos.
Ps. For a complete description of the samba and carnival instruments, please read the specific article on Cultural Directory of Brazil Carnival Ooah!
Below the Samba Drums in a "Batucada", from Sao Clemente Samba School.