10 Samba Drum Beats and Patterns (With Sheet Music)

Samba Drum Beats and Patterns (With Sheet Music)

Samba rhythms are some of the most fun Latin-style drum beats to play. They’re typically played at mid to high tempos, and they’re used in music to make people dance. 

In traditional Brazilian music, the percussion instruments are divided among a few players. When you play a samba beat pattern on the drum set, you’re combining all those parts to be played by one person to replicate the drum sounds.

These are no basic drum beats, as they’re all incredibly tricky. I’ve listed ten great samba beats for you to try out, but just note that they’re not ones for beginners.

Let’s get into them! 

Samba Groove 1

This first groove is a simple one that will allow you to solidify the feel of the basic samba rhythm pattern. The key to every samba drum groove is to keep a consistent rhythm of two quick bass drums.

In a musical setting, the bass guitar will match the notes that you play on the bass drum. 

In this first groove, you’re going to play those repeating bass drum notes while playing 16th notes on your hi-hat

Try to keep your hi-hat notes as even as possible so that you imitate the sound a shaker would make. The best way of doing this is to keep playing the surface of the hats. 

Samba Groove 2

Samba Beat 2

Another vital skill you need to have to play samba beats is control over your hi-hat foot. You’ll often need to keep time on your hi-hat foot while the rest of your limbs are playing various rhythms. 

In most of the grooves that I’ve mentioned on this list, you’ll be keeping time with your hi-hat foot by playing it on beats two and four of every bar. 

For this particular groove, you’re going to combine that with the repeating bass drum pattern that we looked at in the previous groove. 

You’re then going to play straight eighth notes on the ride cymbal instead of the hi-hat. 

Samba Groove 3

Samba Beat 3

This groove is a variation of the last groove. You’re going to now play 16th notes on the ride cymbal instead of 8th notes, and you’re going to keep the samba ostinato pattern going with your feet. 

An ostinato is a repeating pattern, and the samba foot pattern is one of the most common ones that drummers learn. 

Your ride cymbal is going to have a bit more bounce than your hi-hats, so some drummers struggle to play 16th notes cleanly. The best method is to strike the ride cymbal a bit closer to the edge, as you won’t get as much wobble from the bow. 

Samba Groove 4

Samba Beat 4

We’re going to go back to eighth notes on the ride cymbal here, but we’re now going to add a rhythm to play on the snare drum. 

When you learn sambas, you essentially want to put your ride pattern and feet on autopilot so that you can change things up with your left hand. 

For this example, you’re going to play a cross-stick rhythm that lands on a few offbeats. Those offbeat patterns are what make samba beats really pop. 

Make sure to make your cross-stick loud by turning your stick over. You’ll get the loudest sound when striking the rim with the butt end of the stick. 

Samba Groove 5

Samba Beat 5

This groove has the same cross-stick rhythm as the previous one, but the difference comes in the ride cymbal pattern. 

Instead of playing consistent 16th notes on the ride, you’re going to take away the last ride note in every group. This leads to three quick ride notes and a small space where the last one would be. 

This is another incredibly common rhythm that you should know to play samba drum beats. 

Samba Groove 6

Samba Beat 6

We’re back to playing 16th notes on the ride cymbal for this next groove. And you’re now going to play consistent eighth notes on the snare drum as cross-sticks. 

This groove is relatively easy to play compared to many of the others that we’ve looked at. It’s a good one to play for a song that needs a driving beat. 

It’s also a good one to play when you need to build with intensity behind a solo musician that is getting to the peak of their solo. 

Samba Groove 7

Samba Beat 7

Here’s another groove with an important ride cymbal pattern. It’s the opposite pattern to the one that we learned in groove five. 

You’re also going to play three ride cymbal notes in a row, but you’re going to start by playing one ride note on its own. 

Every downbeat will have a single ride pattern, and then you’ll have two quick ride notes leading to the next downbeat. 

Samba Groove 8

Samba Beat 8

This groove is going to incorporate the bell of the ride cymbal. You’ll play consistent 16th notes, but you’ll move to the bell on all the “and” counts in every group. 

You can either play the bell with the shaft or tip of your stick. The former will give an aggressive sound, while the latter will be a bit gentler. 

On your snare drum, you’re going to play a classic clave cross-stick pattern. This is when you play a group of three notes followed by a group of two. 

Samba Groove 9

Samba Beat 9

In this drum beat, you’re going to play open snare notes to add a bit more dynamic variety. The key is to play them quite softly, though. 

Your ride and bass drum patterns should be at the forefront of the groove while the snare drum notes blend into the background. 

Once you’re comfortable with the groove, you can accent a few of those snare hits to create some texture. 

Samba Groove 10

Samba Beat 10

This last groove will have you playing groups of three again on the ride cymbal. But this time, you’re going to play the ride bell on the first note of every group. 

You’ll then play the same snare drums that we looked at in the previous groove. 

Tips for Learning Samba Beats

Work On Foot Speed

You would have noticed that every groove we looked at has a repeating double kick drum pattern. You need to play that with a single pedal for samba beats, as it’s essential to use your hi-hat foot as well. 

So, you need to make sure that your bass drum foot can keep up with the pace. Before working on any samba grooves, it’s a good idea to build excellent foot speed. 

That will make it a lot easier to get a grip on these kinds of beats. That repeating foot pattern needs to go onto autopilot so that you can focus on what you’re doing with your other limbs. 

If your foot struggles to keep up, all your samba beats will sound sloppy. 

Work on Hand and Foot Independence

The other important skill you need to have is a great sense of coordination. All four of your limbs are doing different things in samba beats, so you need to have the skills to keep those rhythms going without feeling flustered or confused. 

You should first start with your hand independence. Try playing different patterns with each hand, and then play them at the same time.

After that, do the same thing with your feet. Once you get the hang of that, try playing all of your limbs together. 

The easiest way to refine coordination is to visualize where your limbs line up and where they don’t. That will simplify things, making it a bit easier to play those rhythms. 

Listen to Samba Music

Drummers often learn how to play samba grooves, but when they play those grooves in a band, they don’t sound musical. 

If you want to learn how to play samba on the drums, you need to listen to Latin music. You’ll start to familiarize yourself with what needs to be played to best support the style, and then you’ll understand how to apply the grooves that you’ve been learning. 

Learn Other Styles of Latin Drumming

Samba is just one of the many styles that you’ll find under the banner of Latin music. As a drummer, it’s good to broaden your horizon and learn all of these styles of drum grooves. 

Learning how to play a bossa nova, songo, or nanigo groove will teach you skills that you can apply to your samba drum beats. 

It’s also rare that you’ll play in a band that only does samba songs. Drummers tend to play these kinds of styles within jazz drumming setups, and you’ll need to know how to play all of them to be best prepared for playing jazz music. 

Use Percussion Instruments

The final tip is to use percussion instruments for various rhythms. You’ll get the best samba sounds if you incorporate things like cowbells, woodblocks, and shakers. 

You can put those in the above grooves by replacing a drum or cymbal with a piece of percussion. 

Percussion instruments always have shorter sounds than drums and cymbals, and it’s those short sounds that are very appropriate for samba beats. 

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