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Drum Set-World Rhythms-Brazilian Partido Alto Beat

by Danny Gottlieb

Lesson Category: Drumset
Skill Levels: Advanced, Intermediate

Hello readers! This article concerns one particular, fairly common Brazilian drum set beat, the "Partido Alto" beat. The version that I use was shown to me by none other than fellow Zildjian endorser, and drumming/percussion legend, Airto Moreira. I was lucky enough to have played both drums and percussion in his group, way back in 1982.

Airto, at the time was looking for someone to help out and play drums in his group with Flora Purim when he played percussion and then switch to percussion when he played drums. I JUMPED at the chance! And you could not help but absorb his strong rhythms and sense of time when playing with him.

I was a drum fan of his from the Chick Corea "Return to Forever" and "Light as a Feather" days, and a percussion fan from the Miles Davis "at the Fillmore band". At one point, Airto talked about wanting to write a book, and I offered to help him, knowing that this would be the experience of a lifetime, and it was. We got together many times, to document his life, concepts, and the specific rhythms and techniques he used. The results are contained in the book "Spirit of Percussion", which may or may not still be in print.

One of the beats he showed me, and that we played in his group withy Flora, was the Partido Alto beat. It cam from the song Partido Alto, and I assume , due to the fact that it is a very specific pattern, locked into the bass figure, many rhythm sections refer to it as the Partido Alto Beat. Here’s the rhythm:

If you count a slow 4-4 , it's "4 and 1 (3 beats on the bass drum, the "and of one" on the snare, the "e" and the "ah" of two on the bass drum, and the "e" of 3 on the snare. Then it repeats. You can play the bass drum part on the hi hat or cymbal as well. There are few other parts to the song, so I also recommend listening to the actual song, Partido Alto, as played by Airto and Flora to really hear this fantastic, authentic Brazilian beat played by the master. Good luck!!! Danny can be reached at :

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