The surdo is a large, deep bass drum which normally comes in three differently tuned sizes – Primeira, Secunda, Terceira. Here in the UK most people call them 1,2, & 3. The three sections are tuned differently and vary in diameter from 14″ to 28″, with infinite variations of playing head, tuning, muting and their resulting sounds.

The three surdo sections perform different roles in arrangements, traditionally with the third playing the most variations while the first and second make sure no-one misses a beat. The Surdos provide both the pulse and the bass-line of the bateria, and in Leeds Samba’s bateria players are encouraged to master all three.

The picture below shows a ritmista from the Olodum project in Salvador de Bahia. Two of the Unidos do Ritmo drums come from their bateria and have seen some action via Bahia and London before they arrived in Leeds last year. Come along and play one!

It demands a healthy back, solid dependability… and to be played with attitude. One-handed & in the air is not compulsory.

Olodum drummer playing a surdo
Olodum Ensaio, Pelourinho, Salvador de Bahia


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