An Introduction to the Samba
By Philip Galinsky, Ph.D.
The samba is the most famous type of music and dance from Brazil. But before we delve into the samba, we have to talk about the make-up of Brazil.
The make up of Brazil and Samba »
The instructional videos contained here provide an introduction to some of the typical samba instruments and rhythms as well as a basic samba dance step.
The video above is a playlist of videos about the samba educational project with hosts and Samba Teaching Artists, Philip Galinsky, Ph.D. and Magali Medeiros. Please refer to our notes below as you watch through the videos.
Introduction: Provides introduction to our samba educational project with hosts and Samba Teaching Artists, Philip Galinsky, Ph.D. and Magali Medeiros.
Samba Time-Line: Demonstrates the time-line rhythm in samba called teleco-teco, which functions as a guide for all the other rhythms. Here, our hosts demonstrate the samba time-line using a song they composed called “I Love Samba,” with Magali on the cavaquinho (the typical four-string Brazilian guitar) and Philip on the tamborim (small Brazilian frame drum). As played here, the teleco-teco starts on beat 3 of the four-beat cycle (See below for a link to the “Samba New York! – Bateria 101” video, which provides more information about the rhythmic structure of samba.)
Surdo: Philip demonstrates the surdo drum, the heartbeat of the samba. When played outside of Carnaval, a single surdo can be used to play the samba pulse, with a muted tone on beats 1 and 3 and an open tone on beats 2 and 4 of the four-beat cycle.
Pandeiro: Philip demonstrates a basic samba pattern on the pandeiro, a type of Brazilian tambourine. The pattern comprises the basic subdivisions of the samba — four subdivisions per each of the four main beats of the cycle. First, he demonstrates the four strokes slowly. Then he plays the pattern a bit faster, adding both the typical accents on the first and fourth subdivision of each beat and the special rhythmic phrasing, or “swing,” of the samba. See below for a link to the “Samba New York! – Bateria 101” video, which provides more information about the basic subdivisions and characteristic “swing” of the samba rhythm.
Tamborim: Philip demonstrates two different techniques for playing the tamborim (small Brazilian frame drum) in samba.
Agogô and Shaker: Magali plays an egg shaker (which has the same function as the tubular shaker called ganzá in Portuguese), while Philip demonstrates a typical rhythm on the agogô double-bell, a Yoruba instrument from West Africa.
This project was made possible through the contribution of Philip Galinsky, Ph.D.; Magali Medeiros; and Elizabeth Martins, Project Coordinator, Brazil Initiative, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Many thanks to the University of Michigan’s Vencedores Samba Band for their participation in this collaboration.