Caixa Solo by unknown player
Caixa Solounknown player


The caixa is probably the most European samba instrument, which evolved from the Portuguese marching drum. However, caixas in Rio today are played with guitar strings on the upper drumhead instead of the traditional snare wires on the resonating head below.

The caixas are something like the carpet of a bateria and function like glue that holds the rhythm together. With often around 100 players, it is the most represented instrument in the bateria of an Escola de Samba and almost always plays the same rhythm.

The Caixa is played in 2 different techniques:

1) "em baixo" (on the belt in front of the body)
2) "em cima (without a belt in your armrest)"

The technique of the caixa "em baixo" is very similar to that of a marching drum, with the weak hand holding the stick mostly in the "traditional grip". There are some traditional grooves for this style of playing.

In the samba school Vila Isabel, for example, they play "1 por 1", which is known in Europe as the samba base. They play hand-to-hand all 16th notes and emphasize each beat.


Caixa Vila Isabel

In the samba school Mocidade Independente they play the rhythm that became known in Europe as Bossa-Clave (see notes).


Caixa Mocidade

In the samba schools Mangueira, Portela, for example, a technically somewhat more complicated rhythm is played, since here the beats are no longer played hand-to-hand (see notes).


Caixa Mangueira


Caixa Portela

The technique "em cima" is the most widespread in Rio. Here the caixa is held in front of the chest with the weak arm. Since this restricts the weak hand in its movement, it plays only unaccented notes with a very short stick only by moving the finger joints. The strong hand plays with a normal stick or with a slightly shorter straight stick from the side onto the skin. The basic rhythm "em cima" is a derivation from the "1por1", where only the 1st beat changes, but the accents continue on the beats.


Caixa em cima

For more details about the caixa technique, please watch the following video lesson:

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