Are these the world's best drummers?
By Joe Robinson, for CNN
(CNN) -- Wander the historic streets of the Bahian capital of Salvador, and you're never far from one of the region's most moving traditions: its powerful rhythms.
Whether it's the local axe pop music powered by freight-train percussion or street musicians and blocos afro pounding out hypnotic riffs, big beats power Bahia in a way they do nowhere else in Brazil, maybe even the world.
A state on Brazil's coast, Bahia is the center of the country's Afro-Brazilian culture, and the heartbeat of that is the drum.
The state is home to percussion ensembles such as Ile Aiye and Olodum, a group of several thousand members famed for their work with Paul Simon, that make Carnival in Salvador one of the top attractions in Brazil.
Percussionist Carlinhos Brown rose from drumming on empty water bottles in the streets of a poor neighborhood in Salvador to become one of Brazil's top hit makers and artists, not to mention a judge on "The Voice Brasil."
Brown founded the mostly percussion band Timbalada, a Carnival favorite, which takes its name from the conical hand drum known as a timbal.