Samba independence is an essential skill for a well rounded drummer. I came up with these two pages of exercises to help you develop the required independence to play these types of grooves on the drum set. For those of you new to Samba, these grooves are adapted for drumset from what Brazilian percussion ensembles play on multiple percussion instruments. I don’t really want to get into the details of how this translation occurred in this post, but if you would like to read up on it, you can check out an excellent book on the subject, “Brazilian Rhythms For Drumset,” by Duduka Da Fonseca and Bob Weiner available from CPP Media.
The essence of the groove for drumset revolves around a repeating rhythm with the bass drum–a dotted eighth sixteenth note figure repeated over and over–while the left hand freely plays accents on the snare or other drums, and the cymbal hand plays either a repeating cymbal pattern or sometimes in unison with the left hand (I am assuming you’re right handed). Finally, the hi-hat foot often plays all the upbeats (“ands”) simultaneously.
To get you started on the road to playing Samba, these two pages–download them here: Samba Independence Part One PDF — take you through various common possibilities with your left hand while maintaining eighth notes with the cymbal hand. The bass drum and hi-hat patterns that are mentioned above are played simultaneously. There are other commonly used cymbal variations, but for now, the eighth note pattern is enough to get you started…..after all, this is “Part 1.”
The worksheet gives you 27 independence exercises followed by 7 grooves. The Samba grooves on page 2 will allow you to test out your new independence skills. If you wish, try the exercises without the left foot hi-hat pattern at first…just playing the bass drum pattern against all the hand variations will be hard enough in the beginning. You can add the left foot in later, once you are comfortable with the exercises with just the bass drum.
A side benefit to working on these exercises is the development of your bass drum technique. I originally wrote these exercises in order to help a student who was having trouble playing doubles on the bass drum…..after only an hour with these sheets her bass drum doubles technique had improved.
Have fun and feel free to ask any questions.