Samba is a term used to describe several forms of Afro-Brazilian music that share similar characteristics of rhythm, melody, and musical structure.  Samba is one of the more widely known forms of Brazilian music internationally because of its association with carnival.

Harlem Samba primarily plays the form played by the samba schools of the Rio de Janeiro carnival.  Samba schools are large community based organization whose primary purpose is to perform in the carnival parade.  The bateria, or percussion section of the samba school, can number up to three hundred percussionists.  Harlem Samba primarily uses seven bateria instruments: caixa, surdo, repinique, tamborim, chocalho, cuíca, and agôgo.  Each of these instruments has a different sound, technique, and rhythm that combine to form one percussive orchestra.