Surdo – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Musical Instruments Glossary

I. What is a Surdo?

The Surdo is a large Brazilian bass drum commonly used in samba music. It is a key instrument in the bateria, or percussion section, of a samba school. The Surdo is typically played with a mallet or stick and produces a deep, resonant sound that provides the rhythmic foundation for the music. It is an essential component of samba music and is often played in ensembles with other percussion instruments such as tamborims, agogôs, and cuícas.

II. How is a Surdo played?

The Surdo is played by striking the drumhead with a mallet or stick. The player can vary the pitch and tone of the drum by striking different areas of the drumhead. The Surdo is typically played in a steady, repetitive pattern that provides the rhythmic backbone of the music. Players often use a technique called “muffling” to control the resonance of the drum and create a tighter, more focused sound.

III. What are the different types of Surdo?

There are two main types of Surdo: the Surdo de Marcação and the Surdo de Resposta. The Surdo de Marcação, also known as the Surdo de Primeira, is the larger of the two drums and is responsible for playing the main rhythm of the samba. The Surdo de Resposta, or Surdo de Segunda, is smaller and plays a complementary rhythm that adds depth and complexity to the music. Both drums are essential in creating the distinctive sound of samba music.

IV. What is the history of the Surdo?

The Surdo has its roots in African percussion traditions brought to Brazil by enslaved Africans. Over time, these traditions merged with European influences to create the unique musical style known as samba. The Surdo became an integral part of samba music in the early 20th century and has since become synonymous with Brazilian culture. Today, the Surdo is played not only in samba music but also in other genres such as bossa nova and MPB (Música Popular Brasileira).

V. How is the Surdo used in different genres of music?

In addition to samba music, the Surdo is also used in other genres of Brazilian music such as bossa nova, a more laid-back style that emerged in the late 1950s. The Surdo provides a steady, pulsating rhythm that underpins the melodic and harmonic elements of the music. In MPB, the Surdo is often used in conjunction with other percussion instruments to create a rich, layered sound that is both rhythmic and melodic.

VI. What are some famous Surdo players?

Some famous Surdo players include Wilson das Neves, a renowned Brazilian percussionist who has played with artists such as Elis Regina and Chico Buarque. Another notable Surdo player is Marcos Suzano, known for his innovative approach to percussion and his fusion of traditional Brazilian rhythms with modern styles. These musicians have helped to popularize the Surdo and showcase its versatility in a variety of musical contexts.