The “Bateria” (battery) of The London School of Samba

A samba school’s Bateria is made up of a range of percussion-based instruments.


The core instruments are:

  • Surdo – (three differently pitched drums to provide foundation and bass to the samba)
  • Caixa – (similar to and an evolution of the snare drum for samba)
  • Repique – (a high pitched drum calling drum)
  • Chocalho – (a shaker made of jingles similar to those found on a tambourine, but attached to a frame)
  • Agogo – (two or more bells of different pitch, used to provide melody, borrowed directly from its African counterpart)
  • Tamborim – (a small high pitched handheld drum, used to provide melody through a series of complex rhythms)


Surdo’s are commonly found in a bateria in three different sizes. The largest two hold the beat between them, with the smallest drum playing more intricate patterns. The shell of the surdos in a Brazilian samba school are made of aluminium (occasionally wood), most commonly 18″, 20″ and 22″ in diameter and 60cms deep, with the drum skin, made from goat skin. Primeira (“first” or “primary”) is the deepest tuned surdo, Segunda (“second” or “secondary”) tuned higher and the teceira (“third” or “tertiary”) tuned higher still to provide musical colour to the downbeat.


Caixa de Guerra (Lit. Box of War)
The caixa can also be played “Em cima”, at shoulder height, helping to project the sound of the drum further. (
navel level, “em baixo” (below) is the style we play here at the LSS.


(Sometimes known as “repique” or “surdo de repinique”) often used to give “calls” to the rest of the drummers to enter into the samba and has a role of holding time for the bateria and adding colour to the sound.


The chocalho will generally play in the first part
of the enredo and is silent in the second part (, the chocalho adds swing to the samba and colour in its particular stops and starts.

Agogo Bells

Traditionally a pair of bells, but some samba schools use a set of 3 or four bells (Imperio Serrano were the first to use this). The agogo is the instrument that has remained closest to its purest / original form when created in  Africa before being brought to Brazil.


The highest pitch instrument and provides swing through its turning properties (carreteiro) and melody through the interesting and complex set of patterns they play.

Reco-Reco (similar to guiro), rarely used in samba schools in favour of chocalho
Frigideira (Frying pan)
Tarol (small snare drum)

A journey to a happier world with samba. Subscribe now.