Brazilian Drum- Surdo

surdo drum being lifted by female drummer in NYC

What is a surdo?

Surdos are the bass drums of Brazilian drumming. They are the heartbeat of FogoAzul NYC-marking time to keep the pulse. With their deep sounds, and large size, these bass drums provide a steady beat that acts as a foundation for the accompanying rhythms.
In Portuguese, surdo is translated to “deaf”. Possibly called that because of the huge sound wave it produces which then gets propelled down your ear canal. When FogoAzul NYC approaches, the first drum you hear from a distance is the surdo.
In Brazilian samba drumming, surdos are often played with a single beater (drum stick) and an open hand, or, in samba reggae, the surdos are played with a beater in each hand. When played with a single mallet, the open hand is often used to dampen the reverberation of the drum head, or change the pitch of some of the beats.

Surdos come in different sizes. The biggest we have is a Surdo 1-at 24 inches in diameter! That’s 2 feet of big bass power and sound. The next size is 22 inches in diameter, and then 20 inches. Our surdo 2 is 18 inches in diameter.

Typically, our surdos are tuned a fifth apart. What exactly does that mean? Well, in music from Western culture, a fifth is the interval from the first to the last of five consecutive notes in a scale. There is definitely a more indepth definition, but for purposes of this article, let’s just call our tuning of the surdos a fifth! Our surdo 1 should be tuned to a D, and our surdo 2 to an A, loosely…

Samba reggae is a fun genre of music with its roots in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Check out our post about the history of Samba Reggae. One remarkable bonus of being a surdo player is your chance to lift the drum high over your head and still keep the beat!

Surdo brazilian drum, Surdo drummers lifting the surdo over their heads, brazilian surdo drums, Fogo Azul NYC surdo players lift their drums over their heads.
Olodum Surdo players lifting their drums over their heads.

Here’s a great video of our very own surdo brazilian drum line at the NYC Women’s March in 2019. Check out the video!

Meet some of the FogoAzul NYC Surdo players!

Here we have some great photos of some of our surdo players! Check out their information and quotes for each one!

Now that you’ve learned what a surdo is, why don’t you give it a try? We are always looking for new drummers in FogoAzul NYC, and love when people want to join FogoAzul! Go to the joining form to learn drumming with FogoAzul NYC.