If you would like to learn more about Rio Samba, carnaval, tips and techniques for playing here is a list of YouTube channels to dive into.
Obviously you cannot learn from YouTube what you could learn by taking lessons from a mestre or going to Brazil. But it can still be a great resource for those who can’t travel to Brazil, live in isolated areas, or for the samba-curious. I HIGHLY encourage you to take lessons from Mestres and others if they are touring your area.
Caveat: Most of the channels listed here are in Portuguese. If you don’t understand Portuguese you can still glean a LOT from these videos. I will write another post soon about Portuguese learning resources.
If you have never watched a parade in the Sambodromo, or you have no idea what I’m talking about, this would be a good place to start. Globo TV, like the NBC of Brazil, releases their coverage of the parades and many YouTube channels repost these. These can be quite trippy and mesmerizing.
If you want to watch a particular parade from a particular year, say for example you want to see this years parade of Viradouro, search “Desfile Viradouro 2019” in YouTube and like 10 results will come up. Click on one that is around an hour long and you will be able to see the Globo coverage of the parade. It’s great video coverage of what is actually happening in these parades. Unfortunately the TV personalities are talking and giving commentary over the enredo, but this is a great place to start.
List of channels
LOVE this channel. It is very bateria focused. Thalita Santos and Waguinho Do Repique post videos of samba school bateria audio, interviews with mestres, experts playing their instruments, videos of ensaios technicos, and commentary about the samba parade judges notes.
They post the raw audio files from the start of the parades in the Sambodromo, which is cool because they don’t have the annoying Globo commentaries over the top. You can actually hear what the baterias are playing!
Thalita and Waguinho interview samba school mestres such as Mestre Casa Grande, Mestre Odilon, Mestre Ciça, Mestre Wesley and a bunch more. They get into the details about what makes the samba schools different from each other, their strategies for the sound of the baterias and their personal philosophies for how they run their baterias. It’s an amazing resource for super nerds.
Tip: If you are learning Portuguese turn the speed of these interviews down to .75 speed and listen. Even though everyone talking sounds a little drunk, you’ll pick up a lot more of the conversation that way!
They also post videos of the top players from the samba schools playing their instruments, explaining the feel, and technique, and demonstrate what they are playing. These provide amazing information to those of us outside of Brazil to learn! You don’t need to speak Portuguese to get a lot out of these.
Site Apoteose has recently been releasing videos of Thalita, Waguinho and a special guest talking about the carnaval judges notes on their scoring decisions. It’s interesting to hear them talk about all the aspects of this. Again an amazing resource if you speak Portuguese.
If you can’t tell, I’m a huge fan of Site Apoteose! Dive in and you won’t be disappointed!
Batuque Digital is a performance group as well as a studio space in Rio where you can take lessons from the best players and teachers in town. Batuque Digital is the project of Kleber Komká. Check out my podcast interview with Kleber here, it is translated into English. The Brazilian Beat (LINK).
Batuque Digital’s YouTube channel is a great resource for not just promotional stuff for the performance group but they also post informational videos. One of the best is Junior Sampaio talking about the origins of the different caixa patterns for the different samba schools. The shows the atabaque patterns from candomble and how these morphed into caixa patterns. Amazing! It’s a two part series.
Origins of the samba school caixa beats. Part 1
Origins of the samba school caixa beats. Part 2:
Like Site Apoteose, Batuque Digital does some interviews with mestres and players but not to the same extent as Site Apoteose.
A less popular site but RICH in excellent videos and audio from the ensaios technicos and the carnival parades is Toféu Bateria.
Troféu Bateria was started as a trophy system for acknowledging and rewarding outstanding baterias. In addition to giving out trophies they also take really great audio and video of the baterias.
They know how to record good audio in the really challenging rehelm of 300 drummers and it doesn’t sound too muffled or clipped. Also the Bruno Moraes, Ailton Nunes and others who run the site are very very well respected in the samba communities so they are granted access to walk around the baterias and record. Lots of great videos and audio of ensaios technicos, official parades, and parade of champions.
They know where to be and when to be there so their YouTube library is comprehensive. They even post videos from the samba schools in São Paulo.
If you want to take a deep dive and really hear what the instruments are playing during the enredos, check out Troféu Bateria’s YouTube channel.
Thalita Santos’ tamborim goddess of Rio samba schools! Her YouTube channel has LOTS of resources for people learning to play the tamborim and the other samba instruments.
Thalita has her own tamborim videos, of course. She also takes the top players of other instruments and asks them to give her a lesson. It’s a great way to learn alongside her but it is pretty obvious right away that she knows how to play all these instruments really well! :D
In addition she posts videos of the Mesteres from each samba school demonstrating the tamborim desenhos from that year!
Thalita also has conversations with directors of different samba schools covering a wide variety of topics. As well as on the street interviews with various movers and shakers in the Rio samba world. Personally I find these are a little more difficult to understand because my Portuguese is so crappy! But they have subtitles in Portuguese, which helps.
Thalita is a personal inspiration to me and Dianna’s podcast The Brazilian Beat! I got the wonderful honor of sitting down and interviewing her this year (2019) in Rio and can’t wait to bring that episode to you! Stay tuned!
I was originally sucked into Samba é Paixão YouTube channel because they posted these videos taken right in the bateria kitchen following the hot shot repinique and repinique mor players. Samba é Paixão gets right up in the middle and records everything! Since I’m obsessed with the repinique and repinique mor I love these videos!
They also do interviews with some people that the other channels don’t cover. Such as the official speaker of the Supacaí who announces all the baterias for the parades. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfQjV_hmgis
They also cover breaking news. Like this year when they announced that Carnavalesco Paulo Barros would be leaving Viradouro. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGlYusKDcXY
Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro
The league of independent Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro. They post beautiful, professional quality videos of the Samba schools enredos featuring the baterias, mestres, Porta Bandeira and Mestre de Sala, and other members of the community.
Here is the video from Paríso de Tuiuti:
My favorite thing about Site CARNAVALESCO is that they post the different versions of enredos for each year. They repost other interesting videos from other channels and provide commentary.
This is more of a news and information outlet for all things carnaval. They talk with Carnavalescos and cover some of the politics surrounding carnaval in Rio and São Paulo. Excellent resource!
There is a lot we can learn from YouTube. It is a valuable resource even if it is just a glimpse into the world of samba.
These are a few of my favorites. There are many other channels to dive into as well. If you have other favorite please let me know, post em below! I’m always looking for great resources.