Pandeiro = pain


Dspite what you may think from the picture above I've not suddenly got old time religion and taken to bashing a Tambourine and shouting "Hallelujah brother!" at passers by, it's a Pandeiro, not a Tambourine. I've been playing Surdo in my local community Samba (1) band for a while now, and I fancied trying my hand at something different. Unlike the Surdo I play which is 22" wide by 60" deep and requires that you attach yourself to the drum with a harness that wouldn't look out of place at a fetish convention, the Pandiero is a mere 11" across, and as well as being far lighter is also considerably quieter than the Surdo - an important factor for maintaining marital as well as musical harmony. Unlike a Tambourine a Pandeiro only has one row of jingles, and they face inwards and have a third plate between them, like this (|) whereas a Tambourine's jingles flare outwards, more like this }{ (2). The result is a drier sound, more akin to a snare drum. The head is also tunable, unlike a Tambourine which usually has the head tacked on to the frame.

Believe it or not the Pandeiro is one of the more difficult Samba instruments to play. Those devilish Brazilians are far too devious just to play anything by just banging it. There are 4 main strokes - thumb, tips of fingers, heel of hand and slap, and these may be modified by damping the head with the fingers and thumb of the hand you use to hold the Pandeiro. On top of that there are other variations such as finger rolls, grace notes etc, and all played at 120+ beats per minute. I've been told by Laszlo who teaches us that it will take at least a year of playing obsessively to become even vaguely competent. The instrument weighs about 600 grams which doesn't sound much, but after playing for no more than about 5 minutes your hands and wrists are on fire. By the time I'm done I should have wrists and forearms that would make a Bulgarian lady shot-putter proud!

(1) That's Samba as in Brazilian carnival music, not Samba as in a dance requiring a bouffant hairdo and sequins. And no, it's not the same thing as Salsa either.

(2) ASCII art courtesy of Bob Bemer, who sadly died this week.

Categories : Drumming