An Agogô is a single or multiple bell with origins in traditional West African music. Each bell is a different size with differently pitched notes. Bloco Do Sul use two bells attached by a U shaped piece of metal, and each bell is struck in rhythmic patterns with a wooden stick.
The Caixa is a double headed snare drum, with a high pitched, crisp tone. It holds the basic rhythm together, accenting notes in the musical clave or producing cross rhythms with the rest of the band. Two drum sticks are used to strike the snare side of the drum.
Chocalho is the generic name for “shaker” in portuguese, and the type used by Bloco Do Sul has an aluminium frame with a number of rows, each carrying pairs of jingles. The chocalho sustains the rhythm and is played by shaking it back and forth.
The Cowbell is an alternative to the Agogo and is a single bell, struck with a stick – the tone being modulated by striking different parts of the bell and by damping with the hand holding the bell.
A Repinique has a smaller diameter but is deeper than a Caixa, and does not have a snare. It is played with a single wooden stick and the hand, or two thin plastic "whippy" sticks. It is often used by the musical director (mestre) as a lead instrument, producing calls to which the rest of the bateria responds.
Bloco Do Sul uses 3 sizes of Surdo. The first and second or primeira and segundo set the main pulse of the samba beat. The third or terceira part consists of more complex patterns that provide fills and syncopations, which drive the samba “swing”.
The Tamborim is not to be confused with the tambourine! It has a 6” diameter metal frame and is tuned very tightly to ensure a high, sharp note. In Bloco Do Sul we play tamborims using a beater with flexible nylon threads bound together.
Bloco Do Sul are a Samba style band - a musical genre and dance style originating in Brazil, with its roots in Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. The instruments in the band – or Bateria – are traditional and usually comprise caixa, repinique, chocalho, tamborim and agogô, and 3 bigger drums called surdos.