“Bateria” (battery of drummers) 

The London School of Samba bateria is made up of a range of percussion-based instruments.


The core instruments we teach 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, the strings are on top of the )
  • Repique – (a higher pitched calling drum)
  • Chocalho – (made of jingles similar to those found on a tambourine, but attached to a frame and played by )
  • 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. (ref: sambasupplies.com)
navel level, “em baixo” (below) is the style we play here at the LSS. The LSS plays the caixa pattern of it’s godmother school Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


(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 verse
of a samba de enredo and both of it’s choruses but is silent for most if not all of the second verse, the chocalho adds swing to the samba and colour in its particular stops and starts.


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 to elevate a samba or an acoustic show.


Other instruments (we don’t provide tuition for these instruments in our classes)

Cuica (handheld talking instrument, played using friction on a wooden rod and a damp cloth in one hand, and pressure on hide head with the other).
Reco-Reco (similar to a guiro), rarely used in samba schools in favour of chocalho, metal instrument played by being scraped with a metal rod. Sometimes the same action is replicated using a kitchen plate in smaller samba rodas.
Ganza (similar to chocalho, but no jingles instead pellets in an aluminium tube)
Frigideira (Frying pan shaped instrument played with a stick with a metal tip)
Pandeiro (handheld hide instrument similar in shape to a tambourine, played using syncopated rhythms between the finger tips, palm and thumb
Tarol (small snare drum, similar to caixa but play different rhythms to the caixa)

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