Part 1: Maracatu
The musical style Maracatu is an amalgamation of Afro-Brazilian concepts within the context of the annual festival of Carnival. Maracatu, or Maracatu de Baque Virado (“turned-around beat”), originated in religious Candomblé ceremonies used to crown kings and queens of Congo and Angola in Recife, Brazil, the capital city of the northeastern state Pernambuco. The Maracatu ensemble consists of alfaias (large wooden roped-tuned drums), gongue (large cowbell), agogo (two smaller cowbells), tarol (shallow snare drum), caixa de guerra (another type of snare), and mineiro (cylindrical shaker). First I will demonstrate each of the essential parts played in a Maracatu percussion ensemble. These are only a few variations and possible patterns, especially with the alfaia (bass drum) parts.
Cowbell Parts (Gongue)
This second example is usually played as the clave (root rhythm) for the Maracatu ensemble.
Snare Parts (Tarol and Caixa)
Bass Drum Parts (Alfaia)
In the next example, you’ll be playing the agogo parts on highand low-pitched cowbells. You’ll need to work on your coordination a little in order to play this.
Here are some basic implied-Maracatu beats that use the alfaia parts on the bass drum and a backbeat on the snare.
Finally, here are two grooves with ghost notes on the snare and some 16ths added on the hi-hat.
Uka Gameiro was born in Recife, Brazil. He’s the author of the upcoming book Brazilian Pernambuco Rhythms: Implied Beats. For more info, visit ukagameiro.com.