>Step by step
Programming a samba groove using sampled percussion
1 I start by loading up the samba equivalent of the kick drum from Live’s Latin Percussion Pack: the surdo. There are three of these in a samba band, each at a different pitch, but I’m just emulating two. The pattern couldn’t be simpler: quarter-notes alternating between them, with the higher note on the downbeat.
2 A pair of metal bells connected by a handle, the agogos cover what you could loosely call the lead line or melody in a samba bateria. Really, you can play or program whatever you like with them, as long as it’s syncopated, funky, repetitive and not overly complex.
3 Playing the equivalent role to the hi-hats in a drum kit, there are various shakers you can opt for in samba. Here, I’ve recorded a 16th-note cabasa line, with the second note in each group of four triggering a long articulation and the rest all on a short articulation.
4 The samba snare drum is called the caixa, and finding one in software – with the characteristic sound delivered by its unusual ratio of depth to diameter – isn’t easy. Here, I’ve managed to get reasonably close using a snare from Addictive Drums 2. I program two standard samba caixa parts, each with its own pattern of accents.
5 The tamborim is a small, high-pitched frame drum, struck with a split plastic stick and rotated while playing to elicit timbrally distinct upstrokes. Here’s a typical 16th-note tamborim pattern. Like the two caixa parts, the tamborim takes the overall groove in a very different direction.
6 That’s my very simple samba ensemble complete, comprising two grooves differentiated by the caixa and tamborim parts. All that remains is to put together a couple of phrase-ending unison fills in typical samba style, with everyone striking their drums, bells and shakers together.