Rocinha samba – whole band

Rocinha samba for the band as a whole

Team photo at CubaDupa 2021. Photo by Daniela Fuenzalida Photography.

On this page:

The introduction

This is how we will start the Rocinha samba during performances – with a long call-and-response intro between the director and the band.

Since the workshop Tim and Darryn have re-arranged the intro, so what we play now is different to what we learned in November. Part 1 is the same as it was, but parts 2 and 3 have changed.

The parts the directors play have not changed, however.

These intro videos are a mixture of footage taken at the workshop that’s still relevant, and more recent videos taken in May 2021 which show the new version in full.

Tim introduces the introduction and teaches the band how to play part 1.

Tim demonstrates part 2 of the intro.

Tim demonstrates part 3 of the intro. Note that in our new version of the intro, this pattern is played twice through.

The band plays the full intro (2021 version), parts 1-3 with a focus on the tams. Note that the first couple of seconds (including the band’s first single hit) are missing.
After the intro the tams play the opening subida and then launch into the main pattern.

Members of the main band demonstrating the Rocinha samba introduction. Note that the third section of this intro would normally be played twice through.

Turn, stop to restart, and the subida

There are specific rules in this piece for turns and restarts, and when the subida is played.

The turn

The turn marks the transition between pattern 1 and pattern 2. It is also played before the switch into Ijexá and Six-Eight, and before the Funk and Wave breaks. Note there is no turn before the Mocidade break. It’s just a 4-count and in.

Stop to restart

  1. The stop to restart is signalled by the director bringing their hands together above their head.
  2. Everyone stops.
  3. The restart is signalled by a standard repinique call.
  4. This is followed (starting on the “2”) by the caixas doing their 5-hits-and-a-roll intro back into samba pattern 1.
  5. The tams wait for 1 bar until the caixas have finished their intro, then they play their 5-bar subida and into samba pattern 1.
  6. The chocalhos wait until the 5-bar subida is finished, then they start playing samba pattern 1.
  7. All other instruments SOMETHING SOMETHING SOMETHING.

Breaks and the tam subida

Note that the subida is not played after a turn into one of the breaks or variations. All instruments go straight into their new pattern (or pattern intro, for Ijexá), whatever that is.

At the end of a break or variation, we transition back into samba as follows:

  • Pattern #1 to pattern #2 – turn, no subida
  • Pattern #2 to pattern #1 – turn, subida
  • Mocidade break – repinique call, caixas 5-hits-roll, no subida, straight into pattern #1
  • Wave break – turn, subida into pattern #1
  • Funk break – 5-hits ending (no repinique call), caixa 5-hits-roll, subida into pattern #1
  • Ijexá – turn, subida into pattern #1
  • Six-Eight – stop to restart, repinique call, caixa 5-hits-roll, subida into pattern #1

Chocalhos always wait 5 bars until the tam subida is finished, before they start playing.

Charlene and Christian demonstrate the 5-bar long subida that is played after a turn into pattern #1.
The two notes Charlene plays at the end are the first two notes of the main pattern.

Mocidade break

The Mocidade break can be called any time during the samba. The hand signal is an “M” shape made with the fingers, followed by a “C” shape with the hand. Note that there is no turn before the break – it’s just a 4-count in.

Darryn vocalises the first half of the Mocidade break.

The band plays the Mocidade break, with a focus on the director who is vocalising it at the same time.

REALLY IMPORTANT: In the following video we carry on stepping through part 2. This is wrong. The second half of the break is not a regular number of beats long. If we step through it, some of us will end up starting to play samba again halfway through a bar. So we need to stop stepping and stand still after the middle section.

The band plays the Mocidade break. Includes the return back into samba at the end of the break.
I will replace this video as soon as I can get a version with the correct stepping.

The band plays the Mocidade break, and then into pattern #1 with a subida from the tams.
This is a good example of why we must STOP STEPPING before the third part of this break. You can see the front row carries on stepping when the rows behind them stop. The tams then readjust their steps when they begin the subida, leaving the timbaus going backwards when they should be going forwards.

Drum notation:

Wave break

The band plays the Wave break with pattern #1 before and after.
Note that in this example there’s no subida back into pattern #1, as the break ends with a simple turn. In real life, there’s a subida after the turn.

Funk break

Signalled by an “F” shape made with the fingers:

  • Everyone plays funk pattern 1 for 16 bars while the tams play 2 different patterns, each for 8 bars
  • Funk pattern 2 for 8 bars
  • Funk pattern 1 for 8 bars
  • Funk pattern 2 for 8 bars
  • Funk pattern 1 for 6 bars, director signals “5” and counts us in
  • 5 hits (everyone) with the caixas adding their roll (from their normal 5-hits-roll) at the end
  • Tam subida
  • Everyone back into pattern #1

Ijexá break

Ijexá (pronounced “Ee-zhay-shar”) is the name of a break we play in Rocinha samba. Most breaks are short, but this one is much longer. We’re basically playing a completely different pattern (Ijexá) during a performance of Rocinha samba, and then eventually we return back to samba again.

Ijexá has a cool little introduction, then we are away with our pattern. It’s a very spiritual rhythm, having its roots in the Candomblé religion, and should be played with grace and delicacy.

Candomblé is an African-derived religion practiced in North-eastern Brazil, beginning in the early 19th century. It is considered the best known and most orthodox religion in Brazil. Candomblé is a hierarchical religion, which derives from a variety of practices that enslaved Africans brought to Brazil. Candomblé practice honours and summons the Orixás, the African gods, which are believed to guide and protect devotees. This is achieved through the power of song, dancing and drumming, as a central feature of worship. Music that accompanies the religious rituals of Candomblé feature a West African style of drumming. This drumming style includes a syncopated musical pattern and rhythm, referred to as ijexá. Ijexá is an integral symbol of black identity in Carnival. The Afro-religious communities who performed Candomblé music, were known as afoxés.

Wikipedia – Afoxê

In this video, Tim vocalises the intro into Ijexá (very useful, as he explains exactly what to play, and when, by whom).

Tim signals that intro, which the band plays, and then we begin playing the Ijexá pattern. There are a couple of mistakes you will see in the playing of the intro, but it will do for now.

The hand signal for Ijexá is a T-shape made with both hands – you will see it in the video. You’ll also see the stepping pattern, which is unique to Ijexá, and the timing of the switch from samba to Ijexá stepping.

After we’ve been playing Ijexá for a while, Tim shows the tams, chocalho and 3rd surdos a cup-shaped hand signal, which tells them to switch to Ijexá pattern #2. Near the end, he signals a stop and the return to the Rocinha samba pattern #1 (with subida).

Rocinha samba – Ijexá break – whole band

Rocinha samba – Ijexá break – whole band – showing patterns #1 and #2, focusing on each section in turn.

Drum notation:


Six-Eight is the other of our long breaks, where we play a completely different set of patterns for a while, in the middle of Rocinha samba. It’s signalled with hands showing 6 and then 8 fingers.

We play 3 pattern variations within this break. This video shows all three patterns.

As the band plays Rocinha samba, Tim signals the Six-Eight break.

It begins with our standard Chris’s samba Six-Eight pattern. This is sometimes signalled with a “C” shaped hand (but not always, and not in this video).

On the director’s signal for #2 we then switch to our old Fred’s samba pattern for Six-Eight, which is the one where we step-turn in a full circle every 4 bars. Then (on a #3 signal) we switch to pattern #3, and so on.

Rocinha samba – Six-Eight break – whole band

Drum notation

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