Welcome to the third drum based tutorial in the series that will show you what the beats are and how to make them sound good. In this tutorial we are going to continue to cover Latin drums but now in the Brazilian style.
Also available in this series:
- Making the Beat: Rock Drums
- Making the Beat: Afro-Cuban Drums
- Making the Beat: Brazilian Drums
- Making the Beat: Jazz Drums
- Making the Beat: Drum N Bass Drums
Brazilian music is one of the two main categorizations of Latin music; the other being Afro-Cuban which we covered last time. Just like in Afro-Cuban music, the drums are one of the key components and you need to know which beat to insert depending on the context of the music. Remember, Brazilian music is at its core dance music just like Afro-Cuban.
So if you want to use these grooves in a more traditional sense, know what beat goes with what dance or context. If you just want to add some Samba, Bossa, or Baiao grooves to your repertoire, now is your chance to learn too! The last time we talked we built beats from smaller elements that when summed together formed our bigger beats; this tutorial will do so as well. With that all in mind, get ready to jam!
Setting Up: What You Need
If you have read my previous tutorials then this section will not be anything new to you. If you have not read it, then by all means do so! It is important to have an initial game plan on how you want to approach programming your drum beats, and this section will outline your options for you.
This tutorial is aimed to be predominantly DAW and plugin independent; you work with what you feel most comfortable using. However, some tools within the DAW or plugin are necessary to have in order to effectively complete this tutorial.
You will need either a step sequencer or a piano roll in order to place the rhythms.
A well rounded sample library for all drums and cymbals (you can use a drum synth if you so choose but make sure you can create a lot of different sounds with it).
The ability the change the volume of various hits throughout the drum pattern. Make some cymbal hits softer or louder than others, etc. Some may do it via MIDI, other might just change the actual volume of the hit.
Setting Up: What to Use
There can be features of a particular editor that make more advantageous over another when it comes to making drum beats on the computer; but it may have disadvantages as well. Here we will go over the different approaches to constructing drums on the computer and you can decided which methodology is works best for you.
This method involves loading samples into a sampler that can only play one sample at a time. Why use it? Usually these samplers have a lot of tools that allow you to manipulate the sample far beyond other samplers. Usually when using these samplers you either have piano roll access or a step sequencer. The disadvantage to this however is that most likely you will not be able to see the whole rhythm of the kit and will need to know exactly how the different instruments fit together.
Some programs offer prebuilt kits and usually have the kit laid out across a piano roll so that you can see the whole kits rhythm. You usually will have finer control over the placement of each hit over a step sequencer. The disadvantage is that you may or may not be able to edit each individual sample to the fullest depending on the program.
These samplers are designed usually with drum sets in mind. They allow for multiple samples to be loaded in and sometimes multiple samples per instrument. Why would you want multiple samples per instrument? So that as you program volume changes the sampler will load different samples. This way you don't need 5 different hi-hats channels, 5 different rides, etc. You just program volume changes. Be careful though, sometimes these samplers can be very CPU intensive and can easily bog down your system if you're not careful. In regards to rhythm placement, some use piano rolls and others use step sequencers; it will depend on the plugin.
I personally am an advocate of having the most versatility at my finger tips, but maintaining ease of use. I like the multi-sample drum samplers with piano roll access and mixer track access because I will have the most control over my sound without overloading myself with controls. If you are not looking for a lot of fine tuned control then try for a pre-constructed kit. If you are looking for glitch kit design or a lot of manipulation you might need the utmost intensive control and opt for the individual samplers. The choice is yours, and remember that these are general guidelines; there can easily be other approaches or different combinations of the above.
Brazilian Conversions: Traditional to Drum Set
Brazilian music is both secular and religious, but still altogether dance. It always seems to have a driving quality that is hard to resist. Just like in Afro-Cuban music, most of the Brazilian beats have a particular dance or function associated with it; often the beats roots can be traced to a particular area or town. Many of the basic concepts to Brazilian music started in Africa, Portugal, Spain, and met with the general original Brazilian Natives and became infused in Brazil and other parts of the Caribbean.
Just like with Afro-Cuban music, the drum set adaptations are not a new concept but again are not old either. As with most if not all Latin music, many of the original beats were played by multi-piece ensembles with different players on different drums. Even to this day you can still find traditional ensembles that play this way! Since each beat and drum had their own specific purposes, the individual drums and beats on the drum set do as well. The function however for Brazilian grooves can be different from Afro-Cuban in a few ways, so lets first take a look at the function of the different drums on the drum set and how it relates to the overall Brazilian feel.
The kick drum in Brazilian music, unlike its Afro-Cuban counterpart, is the driving center of the music; particularly with Sambas. The kick generally has a consistent pattern that gives the rest of the ensemble a base to listen form. In the case of the Samba, the upright bass or bass guitar actually mimics the rhythm of the kick to further ground the rest of the ensemble.
The snare drum still plays an important part in Brazilian music just like in Afro-Cuban. Traditionally referred to as a Caixa, the snare is a basic element to Brazilian music and is not a conversion like in Afro-Cuban. In some contexts it is the entire basis for an entire beat; particularly with those that have more of a march feel. Other times it will simply bring back our old friend the clave. Either way, the snare adds a lot to the overall groove and accent patterns to your beats which of course essential to any form of Latin music.
The ride cymbal and hi-hat generally are their own entities in Brazilian music. The hi-hat at times will be replacing an instrument known as a Pandeiro; sometimes also replacing the Tamborim (similar to a Tambourine). The hi-hat generally is played with the foot and fits in between the kick drum hits, acting as another pulse for the ensemble. However there are plenty of grooves that utilize the hi-hat in a closed position and will act as part of the main beat. The ride cymbal either has its own variations or mimics patterns traditionally played on other drums. Either way, the ride keeps gives a more modern edge to the kit and is the primary choice in most non-traditional Brazilian music.
The toms serve as the drum set's replacement for Surdo drums. Surdo drums generally come in hi, medium and low categories which is why they fit so well on a drum set. They toms play a very important role in Brazilian drum set playing since many beats cannot be done without them.
Surdo, Cruzado, and Pardito Alto
One of the biggest styles of Brazilian music is the Samba. Sambas are full of life and vigor and usually are accompanied with the corresponding dance. Surdo, Cruzado and Pardito Alto are all subsets of the Samba. The Surdo beats are very heavy on the toms and involve a decent bit of syncopation. The Cruzado beats are very similar to the Surdo but utilize a more consistent snare or hi-hat. Cruzado means to cross and if you were a drummer you would need to cross your hands over one another to hit the toms while keeping the snare consistent. Partido Alto rhythms are simply another for of Samba with a similar but different feel to the other forms of Samba; the particulars are what separates it from the other forms.
The format throughout the rest of the tutorial for presenting the actual rhythms will list each instrument and which notes the instrument plays on in a 16 note measure. A 16 note pattern assumes that your smallest note subdivision is 16th notes in a four beat pattern. Like in our previous tutorial, two 16th note patterns will sometimes be used since Brazilian beats sometimes are two bars long. The bars will be separated via a | and then restart the note count. Each pattern will be listed from top to bottom so that cymbals are on the top and kick are on the bottom just as you would see if reading musical notation. Each will be accompanied with a picture to help visualize the pattern.
Samba: Feet Patterns
Before we delve deep into the heart of the Samba you should be aware of the feet patterns between the kick and the hi-hat. I will not notate the patterns throughout the rest of the Samba section unless they change from these particular patterns. By no means do you have to use these feet patterns with your beats but they often are and add a nice pulse to your music.
Keep in mind that the first pattern is the most common with the others only being used in the appropriate musical contexts.
Samba Feet Pattern #1
Samba Feet Pattern #2
Samba Feet Pattern #3
Lets first take a look at the Samba Surdo and the basic ideas that encompass it...
Basic Snare Surdo
Snare Accent: 1,4,5,8,9,12,13,16
Very simple and kind of along the lines of a march. Note the accents and where they occur; this accent pattern is very important in Brazilian music. (Notice how they are similar to the feet?) Here are two more longer variations...
Snare Surdo #1
Snare Accent: 1,3,5,6,8,10,12,14,15
Snare Surdo #2
Snare Accent: 1,3,4,6,8,10,11,12,14,15
For those of you who are more on the song writers end, these grooves work well as general intros for your songs. They are busy but definitely not as busy as some of the other beats we will cover.
Moving on, lets now add some toms to the mix; after all the toms are suppose to replace the Surdo drums!
Snare Accent: 4,8,12,16
Middle Tom: 1 and 9
Floor Tom: 5 and 13
Nothing too complicated but it adds a nice color contrast to the groove. And remember what I said about that accent pattern?
Here is another straight ahead Surdo pattern for your learning pleasure...
Snare Accent: 3 and 12
High Tom: 1
Middle Tom: 9
Floor Tom: 5,6,8,13,15
Try starting this pattern on note 9 and then wrapping around to 1 through 8 for a different feel.
Finally I will leave the Surdo with a more syncopated version for you to play around with...
High Tom: 1
Middle Tom: 9
Floor Tom: 5,7,13,14,16
Next we are going to cover the Cruzado and the beats that comprise this particular Samba. As I said before Cruzado's force the drummer to cross their hands since one hand will be busy with other notes. So if you are looking for some busy Latin beats, this may be your ticket!
Snare Accent: 3,6,8,10,12
High Tom: 3 and 10
Middle Tom: 1 and 8
Floor Tom: 6,13,14,15
Like I said it is a lot busier of a beat! Here is a cymbal variation that still maintains the snare accent pattern just not accented.
High Tom: 3 and 10
Middle Tom: 1 and 8
Floor Tom: 6,13,15
If you are looking to add a little variety to these Cruzado beats, just change around which drums get hit, but keep the overall rhythm the same. Here is an example...
Snare Accent: 3 and 10
High Tom: 8
Middle Tom: 1
Floor Tom: 6,13,15
There is only so much you can do with the Cruzado since you still have a very consistent pattern in the feet and in one of the hands. Just play around with your tom locations to get the most variety and use out of these beats.
Pardito Alto is the odd one out in the Samba world. What makes these beats so cool is how the snare accents play off of a different foot pattern. With that being said, keep in mind that there is a different feet pattern that I will notate out for you. Here is an example to give you the idea of the Pardito Alto...
Pardito Alto #1
Snare: 3 and 10
Different right? It really offsets the feeling of the downbeat, which can be very good if you want that effect. However, it still grooves despite the displaced feeling. Here is another variety to try out...
Pardito Alto #2
Snare: 3 and 10
These patterns are essentially the core of the Pardito Alto. Try removing various notes in the cymbal pattern in a syncopated manner to accentuate the Pardito rhythm. However, if you want to keep the general rhythm going like before, but need a different sound color, try this...
Pardito Alto #3
Snare Accent: 3 and 8
As you have seen the Samba is a fast and driving beat that encompasses a wide array of sound options. The Surdo and Cruzado add a tom heavy feel while the Pardito Alto trys to displace the listeners sense of downbeat without sacrificing groove. Before we close this section and move onto the Bossa, let me present to you one more Samba beat. This does not fit into anyone particular feel but none the less is very common.
Bossa Nova Boss
Moving on, this next section will focus primarily on the Bossa Nova. The Bossa still maintains the kick aspect of the Samba since it in fact came from the Samba. The difference? The Samba has a more relaxed and slower pace. The only reason it may sound fast is cause you traditionally will play constant 16th notes on the cymbal for Bossas. More often that not the hi-hat is played instead of the ride for a Bossa, however there is nothing stopping you from playing the beats on the ride. In fact some actually call for it to be done on the ride. When these beats are presented, the hi-hat will revert back to the feet pattern along with the kick.
The Bossa is not nearly as varied as the Samba so only one section will be presented. However make no mistake, the Bossa is very important and is a standard in Brazilian and Latin music.
Snare Click: 1,4,7,11,14
This is the most popular beat found the Bossa style. The click pattern in the snare is designed to mimic our old friend the clave. However, this pattern is known as the Bossa Clave. Try reversing this pattern to get another varient... here is an example.
Snare Click: 3,6,9,12,15
This next example is another common Bossa that takes the pattern of the Tamborim and places it on the clicks. Have a listen...
Snare Click: 1,3,5,6,8,10,12,14,15
Moving forward, we can try and add a Pardito Alto element to the Bossa in the clicks. Can you hear it?
Snare Click: 1,3,5,8,10,12,15
That is essentially the Bossa Nova in a nutshell. However, before we wrap this section up let me present you with a more syncopated version...
Snare Click: 1,3,5,8,12,14,15
Note how I did brought back both the kick and the foot controlled hi-hat for this beat since it was based on the ride. You did notice right?
Bossa Nova Boss: Review
If you understood the concepts of the Samba, the Bossa Nova should have been no issue. Just remember that it is a more laid back type of Brazilian beat and should be treated as such. Also, if you write fills for the Bossa make sure they also reflect the laid back nature.
Baiao Oh Yeah
This next section revolves around the beats to the dance music known as Baiao. A Northern Brazilian dance, the Baiao unitlizes a different but similar kick pattern that gives the music its unique quality; not to mention the focal point being an accordion melodically! Keeping this in mind, lets first take a look at the basic Baiao beat.
Snare Accent: 4,7,12,15
See what I mean about that kick pattern? It is just a stripped down version of the Samba kick but it has such a different feel. You also may have noticed that this beat as a march like quality to it. If you want that march feel but need some variety just fill the rest of the snare drum beats in and let the accents themselves speak the rhythmically melody.
Next lets find a way to the hi-hat hat in differently to this beat. Try for example adding the hi-hat to the accents like so...
Snare Accent: 4,9,15
While this is all well an good, another idea to play around with is to add the toms to the accents as well to get a rhythmic melody going base around the accent pattern. Here are two examples; the second one is simply a flipped around version in which the high tom and floor tom locations are swapped.
Cymbal: 1 and 7
Snare Accent: 4
High Tom: 9
Middle Tom: 12
Floor Tom: 15
Cymbal: 1 and 7
Snare Accent: 4
High Tom: 15
Middle Tom: 12
Floor Tom: 9
Not all of us need these very snare heavy beats. Sometimes you may need a more modern sounding beat that is more cymbals oriented. Here is an example to show you what I mean...
Snare Click: 3,7,11,15
Now before we wrap up this section up let me show you one very modern approach to the Baiao. Now I warn you, this wont even sound like a Baiao at first, but look at the feet pattern. I think you may like it...
Snare: 5 and 13
Baiao Oh Yeah: Review
As we have seen the Baiao as a lot of vigor and a lot of variety to how it can be used. If you ever hear that kick pattern remember that the beat is Baiao based. Try playing with the accent pattern and adding different hits either on or off that accent pattern.
Now comes the part where we talk about the samples and what works and what doesn't for the style. Since the Brazilian style and Afro-Cuban style are both Latin, this section will mirror closely to the previous tutorials. However, some material will be different but it will not be necessary if you read the previous one.
Up until now we have focused on creating the beats in the Brazilian style. However, we need to make sure we are getting a good sound out of each drum. If you read my previous tutorial then you know that some people are on a perpetual quest for the perfect drum sound. Once again, if you are one of these people let me tell you that it does not exist. When dealing with programmed drums trying to sound real, you need to have the best samples you can get a hold of; end of story. Process all you want, but good samples are key to good drum sound.
Now, you still will need some processing regardless so do not count yourself out yet if your samples are not godly. What we will focus on is making the kit as a whole sound more live and real and what you need to do in order to achieve that end. As I said in the beginning of this tutorial, you will need a lot of samples in order to get a good feel out of your programmed kit. Now we will go in depth on how to use them.
A good kick is key to the creation of a quality drum sound regardless of genre. The kick is once again the center of the genre when dealing with Brazilian music so make sure its. You have a few choices to pick from when working with the kick; however not as much the rock genre like last time. You most likely will have kicks that sound natural, full, or cushioned; sometimes crossbreeds between two of them but not very often How do you decide which to use? Think of how you want your kit to sound.
A traditional jazz/Latin album will have a very natural sound and you will want to hear the sound of the drum itself, not some processed pop tone. Keep this mind as well, sometimes this sort of tone will remove some attack from the kick and give it that cushioned quality. Generally these are considered more traditional for an Brazilian sound.
If you want a fuller more Hollywood style sound then you will want a kick that has a nice bottom end with some attack. It should not be completely pop sounding, but not the natural tone either.
These of course are just guidelines but it hopefully gives you a sense of direction when trying to figure out your kick sound.
When actually programming of the kick you should probably have two, but definitely no more than three kick sounds. The kick tonally stays the same most of the time when being acoustically played. You will probably want a kick sound for quiet passages and another for louder passages.
Like always, if you ever have two kicks in rapid succession (two 16th notes for example) make sure they don't sound exactly alike. As a whole, it is difficult for a drummer to keep them 100% the same that fast.
The snare is the center of syncopation most of the time so make sure it sounds good! Clicks will need a clear knock sound and the snare will need a open hollow tone. The snare maintains almost a constant volume and tone since using the snare requires the same basic stroke that should be easy for a drummer. This intern gives essentially the same volume. However, make sure there is enough difference so it doesn't sound like a drum machine. Also pick out a good rimshot sound that works with your hollow tone since rimshots are a key part of fills in a Brazilian or Latin feel in general. Keep in mind however, the rimshots should not be abused either!
I recommend starting with a good open snare sound that compliments the kick and does not conflict with the hi-hat or cymbals. Whenever you do pick your snare tone, make sure you start with your primary snare sample and build off that. If you have a harmonically rich snare you sometimes can EQ off other parts to create your additional snare sounds instead of sample hunting; however hollow sounding snares generally are a little weak in the harmonics in general. Generally the softer hits are slightly higher in pitch/tone than the heavier hits. You should however have more contrast in your snare samples than your kick samples.
Cymbals tend to fall into two categories when it comes to the cymbals actual timbre; dark or bright. Dark cymbals tend to have a rounder, warmer, and heavy tone to them while the bright cymbals are cutting, sharper, and higher toned than their darker counter parts. Also, you can have a combination of both dark and bright cymbals and get what some call a rich cymbal. This applies not just hi-hats and rides, but crashes as well. While these might be the way we categorize the actual cymbals, we also have to consider how the cymbal is played.
You are going to want a tight set of hi-hats that when closed together will not leave any extra ringing and leave you guessing on the beat. Your ride cymbals should have a little bit of stick noise from the initial impact if you want a slightly more authentic sound.
How do we use cymbal samples? This will by far be the biggest pain in the entire tutorial but one of the most essential. Your cymbal samples should be fairly similar, closer to the way we did the kick. Why? Because most people do not actually sit there and intently listen on the tone of the cymbals. There is always variety but it is usually subtle and so to should your samples.
You usually have to randomly assign your cymbal samples to get that psychoacoustic effect of knowing it is there but not noticing it. However, if you are lucky enough to be using a multi-sample sampler, then see if your plug-in can randomly playback your samples for you in your cymbal channel (see what I mean when I said I love multi-sample samplers?) You generally will need about 3-4 samples to get the effect.
Toms are much more important in Brazilian and other Latin feels than most other forms of drum set music. Since they are integral to the beats (the Surdo and Cruzado especially) you need to pick a good set of toms that fit well in your kit.
Regular tom hits should be full and round with a clear attack. You will also want a good rim click sound for the floor tom if you wish to continue the authentic route. Also, you will also want a good tom rimshot sound in case you wish to accent a particular tom hit; whether it in groove or fill.
I would not worry too much about having different tom samples for contrast as a good drummer usually can keep the tone even on the tom hits. Instead, use the low pass filter trick to fake softer toms by removing some of the higher harmonics when the music gets softer.
Sound Color: Review
As a hole you will about the same amount of samples in this tutorial as you did in the previous one. However, if completed the last one you could probably use the exact same setup since they are both Latin. Make sure each sample fits well with the others and if you have to over process to make it fit, get a better sample. If you have the option of being able to randomly assign samples from a multi-sample sampler then by all means go for it; it will make your life a lot easier.
Fills, Fills, Fills
I like to repeat myself so once again we find ourselves in the final section of the tutorial; fills! As a drummer I have told your and will tell you again that fills are your chance to be expressive, and that the possibilities are beyond what you could write in words. Therefore, to me it is probably least most important section for programming drums; also in my experience most people don't want to be bothered to write out a drum fill so I won't flood you with long winded fills that you would have to painstakingly rewrite. Instead, I believe for Afro-Cuban music, if you follow a few basic concepts you can easily start creating your own fills in the Brazilian style.
If you read my Afro-Cuban tutorial then you should already know a fair bit of this section. However, read the last part for some more insight to Latin fills. In addition, listen to all audio examples to try and get some more ideas since they are all new.
Probably the most important aspect to fills and solos in the Brazilian style is the accented notes. When you look at the grooves, we accent certain aspects (like the clave pattern for example) to draw attention. By carefully placing accents in your fills you can make them more melodic.
As a general rule of thumb with Latin music, off-beat accents are king. The off-beat is where the syncopation comes in and is how your fills can sound less square. However, this does not mean you can abuse off-beat accents all the time. Add some variety between on beat and off-beat accents and do not forget to accent the 16th notes between the big beats and off-beats as well.
Here is a quick fill based around accents to get your creative juices flowing...
Fill Me In: And Lead Me In
Not all fills are long intricate ideas, some are simple a few notes long. These short quick fills usually lead into a big hit by the rest of the band. Most of the time they are not flashy and usually are played on their own without any moving notes from the rest of the band. Essentially the band plays, cuts out, the quick fill is played, and everyone comes back in full board on the last note of the fill. There isn't much more to say about these fills other than look at what I have come up with and get some ideas. You will hear one bar of groove and the last 2 beats of the second measure are the lead in fill...
There is no real trick to creating these other than experimenting. The only methodology you really have is to take one beat fragments and patch work them together until you get a fill you like. Again, break your fill ideas down into one beat fragments so that they are easier to manage and vary where your notes land on the different drums.
Another trick is to mimic the melody of the song but in the amongst the tone of the drum set. If you go this route, try adding various rhythmic flourishes to the melody and interject sections that are not the melody and are strictly just drum fill.
Here is a longer fill that encompasses different ideas so that you can hopefully get some ideas yourself...
The last concept you can use is a compilation of sorts of the previous ideas. You take the beat you just were playing and use the rhythmic melody and flow of the beat as the basis to your fill. You can mime the beat verbatim or you can add flourishes to the fill, either way will work. Take a listen and try to pick out the beat...
Fills, Fills, Fills: Review
There is not much to say about Brazilian fills other than be creative and don't be scared to try something new. If you are a more methodical person then try going the melodic mimic route. Either way should expand your mind and be creative; think like a musician!
Brazilian in Review
Repeating myself once again, that is an awful lot of material to cover! Brazilian music is tricky to say the least and is not normally something you hear every day.
Remember that syncopation and the kick are the key concepts to Brazilian music and you will be able to build anything from there. The drum set is merely a reduction of a full drum section in Brazilian music so it should sound like a full drum section. Remember also that the off-beat accent is integral to an Brazilian flavor as well as Afro-Cuban.
If you have done both my Afro-Cuban and this tutorial then you are ready to go for Latin music. Try fusing both if your into composing and see what you get! I hope you have learned a lot from reading this tutorial and now have more musical choices at your disposal. Thanks for reading!