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  BREACH OF THE PEACE SAMBA


DO IT YOURSELF!

  

Hand Signals

  

A samba band has 2 elements - the players and a “conductor” (also known as the mestre, leader or “the one wot is making the hand signals”!). The mestre leads the groove by using signals to control what is being played, to bring in breaks, speed up or slow down the rhythm, add or remove instruments and basically direct the music. Hand signals can vary from mestre to mestre and from band to band. Each instrument has its own signal, as have all the breaks, plus all the quirky extra tricks used to really get the groove going. The RoR network all try to use the same signals so that we can all learn the same tunes internationally, and can play together when we meet up as a big band at demonstrations etc.

    

The signals indicate what the mestre wants to happen next. S/he will make the signal then count it in. Signals are never acted upon they're counted in so all members of the band play the same thing all at the same time.

   

Signals can be used either individually, or joined together in combinations depending on the effect the mestre want to achieve. Signals are acted about in the order they are signalled (see advanced hand signals).

   

Also remember is that some tunes (e.g. Ragga and Sambasso) run over 8 beats rather than four so it is very important to count in at the end of the pattern rather than half way through if you want to prevent general havoc!

    

And now for the signals...

   

General Signals

Common breaks

Tune specific breaks

Instrument signals

Advanced signals

  

   

General Signals

    

These are used by the mestre to control the basic structure of the song. You need to know these.

  

  

Counting

Counting

 

This is the most important signal in samba. It allows the mestre to control when all other signals are executed, so everyone does the same thing at the same time. Count in then do the action (i.e. 1-2-3-4 [action]). Remember to count in the same tempo as you are playing.

  

You can accompany the count with whistle blows (recommended in demo situations). In large crowds it's also worth emphasising your arm movements so everyone can see them.

   

Stop signal

Stop

 

This is the other biggie - how to stop the entire bateria at the same time! Use the raised fist signal, then count in.

 

Can also be used to stop sections by indicating the instruments (or making their signal) then making the stop signal.

Carry on

 

The signal involves rotating your hands round each other.

 

Use this to signal one or more instrument sections to 'carry on' doing what they're doing, whilst everyone else does something different. 

For example: signal a break for four then point to the agogos (or use their instrument signal) and signal carry on. When this is counted in, only the agogos will be playing in that 4 beat silence.

   

Please also note alternative signal (below)

 

 

    

Carry on (alternate signal)

Carry on (alternative signal)

   

This is the signal used by some RoR bands, especially RoR London to signal "carry on" (same as the signal above).

    

The signal involves making a flicking or "go away" motion with both hands.

    

    

Everyone else

Everyone else

 

The signal involves drawing a circle in the air with a raised finger.

  

It is used if you've made a signal to one particular group (e.g. agogos) to indicate the rest of the band should carry on doing what they were doing.

     

   

Speed up

Speed up

 

The signal involves pointing to your wrist as if you were pointing at a watch, then spiralling your finger upwards.

 

The signal is used to indicate a speeding up of the groove. The new tempo is normally indicated using a call and response from the repenique.

     

    

Slow down

Slow down

 

Similar to the signal above, this involves pointing to your wrist as if you were pointing at a watch, then spiralling your finger downwards..

 

The signal is used to slow down the groove. As with the one above, the new tempo is normally set using by a call and response from the repenique.

   

   

Volume up

Volume Up

 

This is signalled by bringing flat hands upwards. 

  

Take care that only the volume of the band changes, not the speed.

   

   

Volume down

Volume down

 

This is signalled by moving flat hands downwards.

 

By using both the volume up and down signals you can even play with volume levels (e.g. hands above the head - very loud, hands right down - very quiet). Jump between different levels by adjusting the height of your hands.

 

 

Common breaks

 

Some break signals are common to most/ all tunes. The signals below are the most common signals used. (For tune specific breaks, click here)

 

 

Break for four

Break for four

 

This can be used in any tune and means the same in all. This indicates a silence for a count of four beats.

 

A break of four with just 1 instrument group (e.g. agogos) is good way to bring the band back into a groove.

Break for eight

 

Similar to the break for four, this signals a silence for a count of eight beats.

Short break

Short break

 

Many tunes have a short break. The signal is the same for all of them. The tune may be different!

Short break loop

Short break loop

 

If this is signalled, the short break is looped (repeated again and again), taking the place of the main groove until the mestre indicates otherwise. 

  

Try starting it playing quietly and getting louder. 

 

 

 

 

Break 1

Break 2

Break 3

Break 5

Break 5