Samba music is built up of ostinatos. An ostinato is a rhythm that is played over and over again. The rhythms used to create an ostinato are usually 4 or 8 beats long.
Each instrument in the samba band has its own ostinato to play. Samba music is built up of lots of different sections. For each section the sambista will need to know an ostinato. A sambista may need to know as many as 6 ostinatos per piece of music!
The main pattern that a sambista needs to know is the groove. The groove is the main ostinato that is heard most of the way through a piece of music. The groove is then broken up by breaks and mid sections.
A break is a 4 or 8 beat rhythm which is usually played once or twice. It is used to provide to create contrast to the main groove.
A mid section is where just 1 or 2 instruments change the rhythm of their ostinato and the others stay the same or stop playing all together.
Sometimes breaks and mid sections are used to allow a particular instrumental section to show of their rhythms.
Samba music also has an introduction and an ending.
The structure of a piece of samba music might look like this:
LEEDS - CHELSEA - MAN CITY - LIVERPOOL - MAN UNITED