Although you really need a teacher to be able to learn these rhythms, we’ve listed our faves here so that we can all learn the same tunes internationally. In this way we can create a more diverse noise at the meetings we so love to frequent!
A samba band consists of players of the various instruments, and a mestre. A mestre is the person who leads the groove using all manner of signals, directing its flow by stopping and starting various instruments and calling brakes. These signals vary from mestre to mestre and from school to school. Each instrument has its own signal, as have all the breaks, plus all the quirky extra tricks used to really get the groove going.
We hope to be able to illustrate these signals through this site at some point!All breaks and / or changes to the groove happen by the mestre counting them in, usually getting your attention with a whistle. This is important to keep the groove tight and flowing. Players must therefore always be aware of what the mestre is doing, although some of our situations obviously call for us to be aware of what those around us are doing too!The tunes themselves are built up by fairly simple layers (ie. each instrument plays a pattern) to give an overall symbiotic sound. In other words, it’s easy to learn! The tunes listed here include information about their structure (ie. how they’re played), notation and, in some cases, downloadable audio files.
The mestre is the ‘conductor’ of the bateria. (S)he uses a language to communicate with the band whilst they are playing, utilising a variety of hand/arm signals to alter and control the groove, its composition and tempo.
All signals are ‘indications’ of what the mestre is about to execute. A signal, or series of signals, is NEVER acted upon until the mestre counts it in. This is vital to ensure that all members of the bateria act at the same time.The signals themselves can be used individually or joined in various combinations depending on the effect the mestre want to achieve. Anyone who can count to four can be a mestre of course, although it’s important to note that some tunes have patterns which run over a count of eight, rather than the usual four, and so have to be counted in in the right place, or there’ll be noisy havoc!
In our experience, particularly in demo situations, the bateria can become huge, unwieldly and spread out, complicated by non-band members merging into the bateria space, banners etc… This can make it impossible for those furthest from the mestre (usually the long-suffering surdu backline) to see the signals.On these occasions there are often at least two mestres, sometimes more (and aided from other band members), one leading, and one reflecting the signals (a sub-mestre). The sub-mestre will be somewhere towards the back mirroring the signals coming from the mestre at the front.Within these situations we’ve found that the mestres themselves develop a relationship where one knows when the other is going to act, usually through eye contact.
Passion for our art comes from the artists that also support us. Throughout the years our members have been in contact with many world famous performers. These include even members from The Foo Fighters and Metallica. Check out what performers we wholeheartedly support!