The caixa de guerra (war box!) is a medium size strung-snare drum played with 2 drum sticks, with the traditional, em cima or sometimes a matched grip. Most often 12″ drums are used in the large samba schools, but many variations exist in Brazil and even drumkit snare drums are not unknown in samba reggae and other styles such as Maracatu.

The instrument is usually worn with a shoulder strap or carried in the crook of an arm, and both have their advantages. Apart from holding the drum up above the bodies of the bateria, sounding outwards at ear-height, the on-the-shoulder method also frees the player up to move more easily. The shoulder strap allows for a matched grip playing position, though it’s much more common to see a strap facilitate a comfortable traditional grip position, with the caixa fairly high above the waist and angled to one side.

Caixa patterns (desenhos) and technique vary, giving a recognisable unique musical character to individual baterias. Some rhythmic accents are the same in most caixa patterns, but someone is always famously breaking the rules. Unidos do Ritmo plays several different patterns closely related to those of Brazilian ‘samba schools,’ as well as unique parts for many breaks and other rhythmic interludes. Different variations can be played for effect on our three different styles of caixa – de guerra, em cima, and ‘the big ones’ – our converted snare drums.

Drummer, percussionist or gifted steering-wheel/dinner table performer? Try playing samba in the caixa section – the, fast, driving upper mid-range sound of of the caixas is so fundamental to the style and fun to play, that they often out-number the other instruments.

Stick control, swing and technique!

A caixa player using the Brazillian 'on the shoulder' grip
A caixa player using the Brazillian ‘on the shoulder’ grip

Find out more about learning or playing with the Unidos do Ritmo bateria here