Best Percussion rhythms and traditions from Africa and Diaspora

What are the Rhythms and traditions from Brazil, and the African-Diaspora?

Percussion is one of the most important languages of Afro-descendant culture. There are many ethnic expressions between both sides of the Atlantic, from Guinea to Brazil, Benin to Cuba. Deeply inserted in social and ritual gatherings, percussion is closely related to the movements of the body, dance. It marks seasons, celebrations, and special events and is at the heart of the cultural celebrations, rites, and festivities.

Timbalada - Percussion rhythms and Traditions from Bahia

Timbalada: A modern Brazilian Percussion ensemble (Source: Opanije’s Archive)

For example, Samba is one of the Key rhythmic elements of Diasporic music. You can learn about Samba’s origin and history here.
 – The Definite Samba Guide 

Hold on, what is Diaspora?

Diaspora is defined as the movement of a large population mass from one region to another, but it can also be understood in cultural terms. The Trans-Atlantic slave trade forced Africans to migrate to the Americas, and they brought their Culture alongside. Slave trading cities, such as Salvador, Bahia-Brazil, turned into centers of Afro Diasporic Culture, centuries after millions of African enslaved captives arrived there and were commercialized as property throughout the Americas.

This process has shaped the American Continent as part of the African Diaspora. Brazil is a very expressive example of this process, as the numbers show: It has the second biggest black population in the world, second only to Nigeria. (Source) It is also the largest Black Nation outside Africa, and the city of Salvador is the blackest city out of Africa.  Brazilian culture is rooted in many African traditions, creating the Diasporic melange for which it is known.

The Afro-diasporic formation of Afro-Brazilian culture has placed percussion as a decisive element. The most known cultural elements, such as Carnival, are the fruit of a mix of different elements of percussive traditions. The African rooted religions are important maintainers of the musical traditions within Brazil. Candomblé, a religion that praises the African ancestors is one of the keys to understanding how Diaspora helped define Brazil.

In Cuba, Salsa has represented for decades its Diasporic influences. In Brazil it was Samba, but they share the same roots. Both rhythms have spread to the world, and made waves, influencing “world music” as a whole. Their origins can be traced back to the African cults installed in the early African Diaspora, such as Santeria in Cuba, and Candomblé in Brazil.

Ultimately, in Diaspora, percussion rhythms and traditions walk together.

Where can you learn Percussion rhythms and traditions from Africa and Diaspora?

There are plenty of Diasporic cultural influences. In addition to the rhythms already present in Africa, it makes for an unmeasurable list of rhythms, even if many are similar, and share musical structures. It is the life works of ‘Griots’, ‘Ogans’ and ‘Master Teachers’, to maintain these rhythms, their history, and importance.

Want to know more about Brazilian Rhythms and Cultures? We have put out a Guide on Brazilian Rhythms, detailing the ancestral and African, to Brazilian-made rhythms and traditions, to modern rhythms.

All in all, the best Rhythms are those available to you directly from one of the keepers of the traditions and rhythms. Here in Opanije, you can access  Master Teachers, our ‘Griots’, and ‘Ogans‘ (Traditional Terms).

The fuel that has maintained Afro-diasporic culture alive and strong is the will to give continuity to tradition. The collective cultural effort, expressed by the oral masters, such as our teachers here at, is what has kept the traditions alive and strong. Oral memory has been the prime aspect responsible for cultural traditions resistance.

You can be part of oral culture, participate in the African Diaspora memory, all the while learning traditional rhythms. We offer direct access to our Master Teachers, where you can be integrated with cultural learning ways of Traditional arts. Learn percussion rhythms and traditions in the same way our teachers have experienced it:

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