Last month we had a brief introduction to Brazilian Percussion. This month we are going to touch on the basics of the Repinique. Discussed will be a description of the instrument, its role, basic playing technique, and a few exercises.

To start things off the Repinique seems to be a difficult one to pronounce. The 12″x12″ drum is pronounced “hep-in-nek” or “heh-pee-nee-kuh”. The 12″ deep by 10″ diameter drum is pronounced “hep-in-ee-key”. The drum is made of metal and has two heads (see picture above). Traditionally it is worn on a sling over ones shoulder and played standing. Of course, this instrument has now made it into several genres of music and has been added to the drum set and percussionist set-ups as well. When this is done it is usually mounted on a snare stand. The repinique is commonly played with a stick (usually in the right hand) and by hand (usually with the left). There are some situations where two lighter sticks are used. We are going to discuss the more traditional approach of one stick and one hand.

The repinique is commonly the lead instrument in a bateria, or samba group. The drum plays the starting and ending cues as well as the cue for the breaks. The repinique is also a solo instrument itself. The playing technique consists of three main strokes with the stick, hitting the drum head, rim shots, and rim. The hand can play open, muffle, or slap tones. Open tones are produced by hitting the drum with the hand and lifting right away to achieve a ringing tone. The muffle tone is played by simply leaving the hand on the head after striking the head. The slap tone is a little more difficult to produce and may require a teacher to demonstrate if you are not familiar with the tone. It is a “popping” sound that is produced by waving the fingers into the head of the drum and leaving them on the drum. Much easier to show than to describe.

The following is a basic exercise. All the R (right hand) notes will be played with a stick and the L (left hand) note will be played by hand. Mix the hand tones up. Try all open, then muffled, then slap, and any combination of those tones.


These are written below the staff.

R = right hand

L = left hand

These are written above the staff.

H = hand

D = drum head

RS = rim shot

R = Rim

The Repinique can be a very involved instrument and can require instruction from a teacher depending on the application in which it is performed. Hopefully this introduction is helpful on what the instrument is, how it looks, the role it plays traditionally, and the basic playing technique. Have fun with it and feel free to add it to your drum set in a snare stand or maybe next to your timbales in your percussion set-up. Study traditionally
or do YOUR thing!

– Meg Thomas

Meg Thomas Bio
Meg Thomas Headshot B-W 3.5MBDrummer and percussionist Meg Thomas has performed in musical realms that range from rock to calypso, avant-garde to spoken word, Latin-jazz to punk, and dance ensembles to percussion ensembles. Her drum and percussion set-ups range from the traditional ideas to unique set-ups that incorporate a vast range of percussion instruments. She received her degree in Music from Millikin University and she founded and runs the Chicago Women’s Drumming Group. Meg is a Vic Firth Private Drum and Percussion Teacher and teaches lessons out of her studio in Chicago. She plays recording sessions, performs with an array of bands and ensembles, and has toured the U.S. and Europe. Meg won a Drummie in Drum! Magazine’s 2010 Drummie Awards as runner-up “Rising Star Percussionist,” was named “Musician of the Month” for January 2013 by the Chicago Music Guide, and is endorsed by Sabian Cymbals, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Evans Drumheads, LP Percussion, PureSound Percussion, and Humes & Berg Cases.

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