Modern Fusion Beats Based on Traditional Brazilian Rhythms

Hi, everybody! It’s a pleasure to be back writing for Modern Drummer and sharing some of my Brazilian culture with you. This time I am talking about my application of samba funk on the drumset.

Samba funk is a musical style that was born in Rio de Janeiro during the 1970s and has influenced many musicians. It’s important to listen to some of the artists that created and developed the style, including Banda Black Rio (Maria Fumaça with drummer Luiz Carlos Santos) and Azymuth (Águia Não Come Mosca with drummer Ivan “Mamão” Conti).

The main recipe of this style is a mixture of funk drumming with the traditional samba percussion. Groups would apply tamborim, pandeiro, frigideiras (small frying pans), ganzás (shakers), cuícas, and other samba instruments over funky drumset beats. Most of the time, the drumset grooves are based on 16th notes or 8th notes played on the hi-hat or ride, while a tamborim, repinique, cuíca, or pandeiro adds the samba feel.

Here are some examples of samba funk.

Rock and Jazz Clinic 1

This is a groove by the great master drummer Ivan “Mamão” Conti. You can hear this groove in the tunes “Circo Marimbondo” and “Tamborim, Cuíca, Ganzá, Berimbau” from Azymuth’s album Aguia Não Come Mosca.

Rock & Jazz Clinic 4

In my adaptations of samba funk, I like to play the tamborim voice on the hi-hat, cowbell, or ride instead of just keeping 16th notes or 8th notes. This approach adds a strong Brazilian feel to the groove.

It’s very important to internalize the tamborim pattern. Here’s the basic rhythm.

Rock & Jazz Clinic 5

First, practice the independence of the tamborim voice (played on the hi-hat) over each of the four 16th-note placements of the bass drum and snare. When you play straight from one example to the next one, you can feel the effect of the displacement. This will be very useful when you start to improvise over the tamborim groove.

Rock & Jazz Clinic 6 to 9

After you feel comfortable playing those, you can start practicing 16th notes in groups of two over the tamborim pattern.

Rock & Jazz Clinic 10 to 13

After learning the independence of the previous examples, you can start creating your own samba-funk grooves by experimenting with different combinations of rhythms between the bass drum and snare. Here are some examples.

Rock & Jazz Clinic 14-18

In the video that accompanies this article, I play many of these combinations in sequence to show how they work as a groove improvisation. Feel free to choose the patterns you like best to create your own combinations.

Remember to listen to the drummers and recordings suggested in the beginning of this article to help you internalize the feel of this style. Have fun with this material, and I wish you good health, light, and happiness.