Fundamentals of a Samba School Bateria – Gabriel Lopes


The samba school baterias emerged in the latter part of the 1920s, together with samba schools themselves. In the beginning, they were small, consisting of approximately 20 members. These days they have between 200 and 300 percussionists. These “percussion orchestras” are jewels of our popular culture, known for their powerful sound and swing, which contributed to them becoming a symbol of Brazilian culture.

The objective of this book is to systematically analyze, in an educational format, the rhythmic part of samba and the function of a bateria of a samba school in order that the reader understands how the unique sound of a bateria is created. At the end of the book, the student will fully understand how a bateria arrangement is created and will be able to do his/her own bateria arrangement. All scores of the book are accompanied by their respective audios.

In the first part of the book, I outline a brief history of the creation of samba as a musical genre and of the samba schools and their baterias. I also talk about the distribution of instruments in a bateria and about the samba-enredo and how its format influences the arrangements of the band.

In the second part I talk about the basic rhythmic patterns of samba and each of the instruments most commonly used in samba schools. In this instruments section, I show the basic grooves of each one and its role within the bateria.

In the third part, I talk about the four elements used by baterias to compose their arrangements. I show how each instrument functions in each of these elements and where in the samba-enredo the elements occur. At the end of this section, I created a basic arrangement for the samba-enredo “É Hoje” putting into practice everything contained within the book.

In the last part, I give a brief description of each of the most traditional samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, focusing on the characteristics and history of their baterias.

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Gabriel Lopes is a musician since 2001 and works with the band Monobloco since then as a musician and a percussion teacher. With Monobloco he recorded 4 albums, 2 DVDs and did extensive tours throughout Brazil and the world, as well as many parades on the streets of Rio, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. In 2005 was one of the founders of the bloco Volta Alice, and parade for the first time in 2006’s carnival. Gabriel is Volta Alice’s mestre de bateria since its foundation. The parades gather an average of 10,000 people and the bateria has around 100 musicians. Through Volta Alice and Monobloco, he participates actively in the renaissance of Rio de Janeiro’s street carnival in the early 2000s.

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Gabriel Lopez

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