Maramba Samba

What it is about

Here is a quote from Wikipedia:

"Samba is one of the most popular forms of music in Brazil. It is widely viewed as Brazil's national musical style. This is not to be confused with the Zamba. The Zamba is a style of Argentine music, and an associated dance, very different from its homophone, the Samba".

Righty ho - so this song - a samba played on the banks of the Maramba River in Zambia - is just a confusion about alliteration.

How it was written

Samba is dance music and the rhythm is terrific. Here is how this one was made.

Set the timer

Maramba Samba tempo (0:05)
Maramba Samba tempo
Maramba Samba tempo

Samba tempo is moderately slow, typically in the region 96-104bpm.

Maramba Samba starts with the surdo bass drum playing one-TWO-three-FOUR accenting the offbeat. The cabasa plays eighth beats ONE-and-two-and-THREE-and-four-and, accenting the onbeat.

Slice and dice

Maramba Samba syncopation (0:05)
Maramba Samba syncopation
Maramba Samba syncopation

Syncopation is what makes music dance. In samba, any number of interesting syncopated patterns can be created by varying the volume of a drum, by playing offbeats, and by dividing the tempo into sixteenth beats.

The volume of the surdo drum and the cabasa vary. The surdo plays the first and third beats muted and the second and fourth beats open. The cabasa accents each group of four sixteenth-beats ONE-and-half-AND.

The toms and side stick play offbeats. The high tom plays the second beat and the low tom the fourth beat using an off-off-ON-ON pattern of sixteenth-beats

The side stick plays a composite 3+3+2 pattern of sixteenth-beats whose accent alternates between ONE-two-three-ONE-two-three-ONE-two and one-two-THREE-one-two-THREE-one-two. This really swings.

Stir it up

Maramba Samba chords (0:09)
Maramba Samba chords
Maramba Samba chords

Chromatic chord changes are popular in samba and latin rhythms.

Take the chord change, Gm-C7-F-F, a solid progression in its own right, which, with a few simple changes, can be transformed into something quite different

Extending a Gm7 chord to include the note C, makes an incomplete Gm11 chord, GBbFC. Altering a C7 chord by flattening G, the note a fifth above C, to Gb, and making it the root, produces GbEBbC, a C7-5 chord. Extending an F triad produces F major seventh, FACE. The end result is a gracefully descending chromatic bassline, G-Gb-F-F.

Tech spec

Title: Maramba Samba

Key: F

Tempo: 104bpm

Length: 2' 19"

Track 1: vibes melody

Track 2: viola harmony

Track 3: nylon guitar

Track 4: fingered bass

Track 5: percussion

Track 6: drums

Genre: Pop, Rock