Samba Quinto!

    Well not really, I'm just making a little joke about my current rumba quinto practice material. When I first started learning to play the congas my first teacher gave us 3 sheets of rhythm transcriptions which were patterns for the Brazilian Timbau drum for Samba Bahia and Samba Ijexa. It was practice material; homework for working our timing, sticking, slaps and open tones. Lately I've been using these patterns for rumba quinto practice.

      I will be the first to say, that even though I love samba, and maracatu and batucada, I'm not as well educated on the Brazilian percussion styles as I am on the Cuban. I can't really explain what the role of the timbau is or what the differences are between Samba Bahia and Samba Ijexa. My first guess is that Samba Ijexa is related somehow to the Cuban Iyesa and the Samba Bahia comes from the state of Bahia in Brazil. But these are just guesses.

   The Brazilian percussion importer Espirito Drums has this to say about the timbau drum.
Timbal (Timbau)
A drum reportedly designed by Carlinhos Brown when he formed Timbalada, the band that bears the drum's name, the timbal is a similar concept to the West African djembe. However, the timbal is much lighter in weight and has a plastic head that keeps consistent tension in even the dampest weather. These drums are incredibly loud and can be heard even in a full bateria.

     Anyways, you guys want to know about rumba quinto. So here are a few of the Samba timbau patterns I practice for rumba quinto. They make pretty good quinto licks. One thing I like about them is they usually have different sides like clave does, or they travel from one side of clave into the other. They also have that samba flavor, I like that.

   Attached are a few examples of the timbau patterns I use for quinto practice. I mix it up. I repeat one pattern several times or one pattern followed by another; creating improvised phrases from the memorized patterns. I've got three pages of these, but I'm only posting a few here. I've got to save some for myself, you know!


  1. hey man really cool blog u got going on here im learning how to play the congas and recently discovered this blog thing and ive been studying the rhythms with w/e i find on the internet and i was wondering if you got some obscure rhythms you would like to share. you see i like the congas but i really wanna get to know the beginnings of it all. rhythms like iyesa for example i cant find an explanation for or a specific way to play them.
    thank you. roger

  2. Roger,
    Thanks for the compliments. I recommend getting Gary Greenberg's book "Conga Drumming: Afro-Cuban Folkloric Ensemble Rhythms. He used to have a website cubandrumming.com, but it is not up anymore. It is my favorite Cuban rhythm catalog. his book is $25 + $3 for shipping = $28.
    You can get his book by emailing him or writing him:


    Gary Greenberg
    P.O. Box 844
    North San Juan, CA

    For videos you should check out the website:

  3. That's funny Geordie, I wrote to my brother not long ago speculating that Ijexa and Iyesa must be linguistically cognate. Ya gotta love it...

  4. Hi Geordie! I'm glad I found this blog. I'm a capoeirista myself and while searching the internet to find places to purchase the timbau and to look for some training material, I found your blog. Any recommendations on to where I can purchase my first timbau? Also, where do I start if I want to learn the samba beats. Lastly, I'm not familiar with musical notes. I just listen and hear the rhythm. Where can I learn more about the pattern sheet you have posted so that I may follow it? Sorry for all the questions.

  5. Rico,
    I'm not sure where to get a timbau, I'm sure there are lots of dealers on the internet. I don't really know samba either, although there are lots of good teachers in my area. As for the transcriptions, the letters symbolize the type of stroke, so O is for an open tone and S is for a slap. The numbers show the beat and the divisions. I've changed the divisions from 8 beats for Samba to 4 beats for Cuban rumba.

  6. Hello!
    I'm stoked to have found your blog, it's inspiring to see all these beautiful percussion instruments! I currently am learning to play the Timbau (as part of a local bateria, Wellington Batucada in New Zealand), and am having one made for me here. As I am moving back to San Francisco later this year, can you please help connect me with any Samba groups, and/or classes for Timbau (and conga, and most genres of African Diaspora - afro-brazilian, afro-cuban namely). Cheers!