The apito de samba ("samba whistle") is used during performances of samba. In a samba school, the apito de samba plays a crucial role because during these performances, the mestre de bateria – the "band leader" – uses the whistle to signal transitions to the band. These transitions could include changes in timbre or rhythmic pattern. The origins of the apito are undoubtedly a fairly simple instrument, but has developed as a standard today into a whistle capable of giving three notes. The LP Tri-Tone Samba Whistle shown here has its origins in Brazilian music but has become a standard in today's dance music as well. It has three distinct, complementary tones that are achieved by placing fingers over the side chamber holes in various combinations.
The rhythms played on apitos de samba are endless and often change throughout a batucada performance.
The samba whistle is easy to learn, so it is also a suitable toy musical instrument for children. In samba music, the samba whistle is a perfect supplement for the maracas. This requires very loud maracas so the whistle does not drown them out.
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