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Resource List

IU International Vocal Ensemble. One World, Many Voices, One Choir, Many Songs. Volume
II. Tracks 5, 6, 7.
Crook, Larry. Focus: music of northeast Brazil. 2nd ed. New york: Routledge 2009. Sound
Crook, Larry. Brazilian music northeastern traditions and the heartbeat of a modern nation. Santa
Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005. Print.
Crook, Larry. Focus: music of northeast brazil. 2nd ed. New york: Routledge 2009. Print.
Murphy, John. Music in Brazil. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2006. 86-94. Print.

Additional Sources

History and Current Culture

When did this culture originate and how have they developed since? Maracatu comes
from the Pernambuco (northeast) region of Brazil. This region and its native Amerindian
populations were first discovered by Pedro Caval, a Portuguese explorer. Once the Portuguese
began exploiting the land and natural resources, they brought slaves from Africa to help do the
work. As a result of interracial mating, the mixing of cultures has been a large part of Brazils
history. The culture of Brazil is separated between the modernized Southern region and the
traditional Northeast region. This region is considered the home of its purest traditional
culture and music. This divide began to be apparent as Brazil shifted from a colony of Portugal

to an independent nation in the 19th century. This divide grew as the political and economic
power shifted from the north to the south at about the same time. European immigrants
generally came to the south, which is why their traditions were more influential in developing
and modernizing the south. The southern area is where most of the big cities are, and because
Brazil has a population of about 175 million, the cities are very congested. The Northeastern
topography is very different from this, full of arid and drought-prone scrub land. Because of the
rapidly developing south and the separation of the north, it became seen as the source of
Brazilian national essence, representing the traditions of the nation. The North Eastern coast is
considered the most African region because that is where the exotic African cultural practices
have been retained. End of 19th century, people thought north east region was a problem area
because the combination of geography and culture created a retardation of development. In
1877-1880 the northeast had the Great Drought where 250,000 people died and an equal number
of people migrated out of that region. During this time, press presented this area to the South as
a wild land where crazy leaders fought for dominance. This caused the people of the south to see
the north as backwards and unfamiliar. In the 1940s-50s, Luis Gonzaga popularized traditional
northern music with radio broadcasts. He balanced the Souths Euro-African samba with more
Portuguese/Amerindian music. The juxtaposition of these styles of music helped create cultural
reference points for modern Brazil.
What are their past and present social, economic, and political structures? The initial
patterns of social interaction and economic relations among the races were established during the
slave era in colonial times, particularly in the Northeast territory of the country. The enormous
influence of African civilizations on Brazil is often attributed to the Portuguese colonizers easy
acceptance of cultural practices transmitted by the Africans they enslaved. The historical

interaction of the Portuguese with peoples from the African continent well before they colonized
Brazil prepared them for a multiracial society in the tropics. Before Pedro Caval landed in South
America, Brazil was populated by Amerindians, who spoke many different languages and had
rich cultural backgrounds. Their encounters with explorers began friendly, but quickly became
hostile as the Portuguese began to exploit the land for the natural resources. This area quickly
became known for the production of sugarcane as well as tobacco, cotton, coffee, and precious
metals. As exploring and conquering goes, many of the indigenous people were enslaved, killed,
or relocated from their traditional lands. Because the Portuguese could not rely on the native
people as a labor source, they began to bring over slaves from Africa. Between 1550 and 1810,
over 5 million Africans were forcibly enslaved and taken to the Brazilian territory. Brazil
became a colony under the monarchy of Portugal. Many immigrants to Brazil in this time were
Portuguese poor men from age 20-30. They came without women or families, drawn by the
prospects of sugarcane and gold strikes. Subsequently, they began to mate with Amerindian and
African women, which produced a large population of mixed-race inhabitants. Racial profiling
and divides created much racism and prejudice. In 1822, Brazil declared independence from
Portugal and created the Brazilian Empire. In 1888, Princess Isabela signed the Golden Law that
abolished slavery, but existing racial divides were still very present, although in a different way
from in the U.S. Because of Brazils multi-racial background and population, People of color
were not treated as below or worse than the Portuguese, white plantation owners. A mulatto, or a
half-African half-Caucasian mix, could learn a trade and rise to a new level of society above his
enslaved parents. The fluid system of racial identification downplayed the importance of race in
regard to social and economic inequality. Politically, after being declared as the Republic of
Brazil, the country experienced several military coups and the dictator Getulio Vergas before

moving towards a more democratic rule.

What are their religious and artistic rituals? Carnival is the cultural and religious festival
that Brazil is best known for. Brazil boasts the largest population of Roman Catholics in the
world, so for the week before Lent, the people of Brazil go crazy and indulge in partying and
celebration. In the northeastern region of Brazil, the style of music called Maracatu is very
important, and it is used in parades. The carnival of Brazil has become a spectacle that is famous
worldwide; it is also the most well-known Brazilian festival. The main carnivals in this region
are held in Recife and Olindo. Unlike other areas of Brazil, carnival does not feature
competitions between different groups of dancers and musicians. In this region, groups perform
side by side. These parades and festivals feature elaborate and beautiful costumes and
headdresses adorned with feathers and rhinestones. As immigrants from Europe have brought
their culture to Brazil, there are many other European Christian traditions that are reflected in
Brazilian culture. While Roman Catholicism dominates in Brazil, there are also Protestants,
Jews, Buddhists, as well as members of indigenous African religions.
What does daily life in this culture look like? Walk down any street in any city and you
will see every combination of skin color and physical features possible. There is a great
variation in the quality of life based on the area and development of the region. There are many
rural areas where they struggle to find clean water, with little to no proper education facilities.
There are also thriving urban sprawls as well as resorts where wealthy people come to visit.
There is a great divide between the rich and the poor, and there is little the poor can do to better
their situation. In the cities, life is much different, full of the hustle and bustle one would expect
from a crowded city.


There are a few instruments played in a traditional Maracatu. One of them is called the
Caixa(Kaisha). This is what we would call in the Western world a typical snare drum, and in
Maracatu, this drum has the more complicated rhythms and by far plays the most. The other
larger instrument you will see being played is the Alfaia drum. This drum is quite larger than the
Caixa and produces a thunderous, deep tone rather than the stern, and tight sound of the Caixa.
These drums have the role of playing variations on the strong beats of the music.
Moving away from drums, the next instrument you will find in a group is called the Abe. This
is sometimes also called a Shekere. This instrument is a gourd enveloped in a web of beads in
order to get that nice shaker sound we all know. Another shaker type instrument is called the
Mineiro. This s basically just a cylinder filled with beads, and is considered to be one of the
backbones of the Maracatu music. It keeps a very steady swing pattern and sets the group up
with that feel.
The next instrument used, and to be considered sometimes the most important is the
Gongue (Gongay). This instrument, which is very close to a standard cowbell, is the glue that
holds the entire group together. There can be 150+ drummers in a group, but only one to three
Gongue players.
Musically speaking, there is no harmonic material in this music, as it is comprised of all
non-pitched percussion instruments. Melodically speaking, every instrument has a different
rhythm that they are responsible for. The Caixa (snare drums) have the most melodic material,
and the more advanced patterns. The Alfaia (large drums) have a different role, which consists of
mostly playing on the strong beets of the music. These drums are very easy to hear when you
listen to Maracatu, and a good reference of the pulse. The Abe (Shekere) has a quite simple
rhythm, which is usually one eighth and two sixteenth notes on each beet. This is also an easy

reference to pick out of the whole texture if you are trying to find the pulse of the music. The
Mineiro has a very similar rhythmical responsibility to that of the Caixa drum. It is one of the
driving forces behind the whole ensemble as it embodies the Brazilian swing feel that Maracatu
requires. And finally the Gongue (cowbell), which has a fairly simple rhythmical role, is the
energetic glue the holds the group together.
Still speaking in terms of the rhythm, Maracatu music is closer to music from New
Orleans than anything else. It takes that swing feel that we all love, and puts it into this large
percussion ensemble. This music would sound very generic and silly if it were played all straight.
It is the swing feel that it embodies that really gives Maracatu its unmistakable lively feel.
If there is ever any harmonic structure to this music, it is very loose. And it is only portrayed
through the voice of a singer. This is usually an individual with the whistle. This person acts as
somewhat of a drum major for the group. They give certain commands and instructions with the
whistle. In addition to this, they also have the role of singing chants to the group. What the group
will then do is either repeat the chants back or respond with another chant.
In general, the tone of most of the pieces these groups play is quite thunderous and loud.
It is always very energetic, and quite lively. As far as dynamics go, there is usually only one
dynamic in any of the music. It does not every change, and stays very consistent throughout the
time playing. In terms of phrasing, it is usually up to the leader of the group because this music is
usually played in parades or carnivals, so they have to be able to think on their toes and know
when to end a particular part of the music, or begin a new part.
This music is used in the Brazilian culture mostly for celebrations such as parades or
carnivals. The lively nature and the thunderous timbre of Maractu is suited very well for the
setting one of these events. The people who learn it all do it aurally, and in this way it is passed

down through the generations. This is why there are not really a lot of books or literature on this
type of music because it is all done from person to person. Much of the time while this music is
playing, there will be lots of excitement, cheers, and this music is particularly good for dancing,
so there would be a lot of that going on.

Lesson Plans
Target group: High School Freshmen
Essential Questions:
1. How does exploring the music of other cultures expand the understanding of our own?
2. What defines Maracatu music?

Lesson Plan 1:
National Standards
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music
Students will be able to identify the various types of instruments with their correct names, as
well as explain their role in a Maracatu group with 75% accuracy or better.
Students will be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of how each instrument is performed.
Computer for a visual representation of the instruments
Chalk Board
We will begin class with a call and response exercise where the teachers will go through and say
something along the lines of, Repeat after me, and the students will say that back to the
The same procedure will be used again, only this time the teachers will clap a rhythm for the
students to repeat back to them.
A brief introduction to Maracatu will be given, including where the music comes from, and a
general statement on how it is used in the culture.
The next part will be to introduce the different instruments, beginning with the Caixa. This drum
will be demonstrated with the name of it written on the board. Its role in the Maracatu will also
be told and the students will have to know this as it is one of the objectives for this first lesson.
Next drum is the Alfaia, and the same thing will happen where it is demonstrated with the name
on the board, and the context in the Maracatu group.
Next the Abe shekere will be introduced, with the same procedure as the last two.

The Gongue will be next in the lineup of instruments.

And finally the Mineira will be played for the students.
For the last part of this lesson, the students will have and be encouraged to come up and play the
instruments a little bit. They will get to hear what they sound like, and if they want to get a head
start on learning the particular rhythms of those instruments the certainly can. In fact that would
be very good for them to learn them if there is time at the end.

Lesson Plan 2:
National Standards:
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
Students will have a basic understanding of how Brazil and Brazilian culture was created and has
Students will demonstrate proper form for playing the instruments with 80% accuracy
Paper articles on different parts of history
The class will begin with call and response. This could be hand clapping rhythms, a sing-song, or
even incorporating movements
The teacher will divide the students into 5 groups, if possible. Each group is assigned a subject.
Each student will receive a paper with information about Brazils history and culture.
Subjects will include: The People of Brazil (population, demographics), Pedro Caval finds Brazil
(what Brazil was like before Caval discovered it, geography, etc.), Life as a colony and beyond
(how Brazil functioned under Portugal, and how they became their own state), The Slave Trade
(How slaves were brought in and used on plantations, how interracial breeding dispelled racism),
the North/South divide (How Brazil is separated in two parts, and what that has meant for the
development of the country).
In their groups, students will read the article and discuss the important points of the reading.
The teacher will ask the students to create new groups containing one person from each of the
original groups. In these groups, each student will have about a minute to explain the most
important ideas from their articles. Once each article has been presented, the students will
discuss how each article relates to each other, as well as how the history of Brazil is similar and
different from the history of the US.
Then, in the whole class group, the teacher will ask students for the most interesting parts of their
discussions, as well as what they find most interesting about Brazil.
Once discussion is winding down, the teacher will present the students with the different
maracatu instruments. The teacher will ask the students to practice playing and to try to find the
instrument they like the best.
The teacher will remind the students that they will be doing a lot of drumming/playing in the
next few days.

Lesson Plan 3:
National Standards:
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
9. Understanding music in relation to history and culture.
The students will be able to clap the basic rhythms of one maracatu beat at various tempos with
an accuracy of 80%.
The students will be able to identify the instruments played in maracatu music with an accuracy
of 100%.
The students will be able to play a maracatu beat in a small ensemble at various tempos with an
accuracy of 80%.

Computer and projector for videos.

The class will start out with a little bit of call and response from the teachers to the students.
Each teacher will do a simple pattern for the students to respond to and then one teacher will start
to do more difficult patterns while the other teachers keep a steady beat.
One teacher will present a video of Maracatu music to the class and give them an open question
to think about as they watch the video.
The teacher will start a short discussion leading off of the open question and then a guided
question will be asked. Play another 40 seconds or so of the video and have the students focus
on the guided question as they watch the video.
Start a short discussion about the guided question.
Move onto the second video and ask them another open question.
Start a short discussion about the open question. A closed question will be asked and the short
discussion will be started.
The teacher will then give some back round information about the video.
The teachers will introduce three different rhythms, one after the other. The class will have a
good understanding of each rhythm before the next one will be introduced to them.
The class will be split into groups with each group playing a tapping a different rhythm. Once
the class can clap or tap together as an ensemble, instruments will be given to them.
The students will perform the rhythms that they learned with instruments in an ensemble setting.
One a level of proficiency has been achieved, the students will switch instruments, which will
give them a new rhythm to plan as well as a new instrument to try out.
The teacher will ask one person from each group to play so only three people will be playing to
test how well they are doing with the lesson.
The students will help return the instruments to the instrument room.

One assessment will be informal and will consist of just watching and listening to see how the
students are doing with the rhythms and instruments.
The formal assessment is the trio that will play at the end of class so the teacher can get a really
accurate read over the class.

Lesson Plan 4:
National Standards
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines.

Students will be able to identify different rhythms and styles within maracatu music.
Students will be able to compose their own arrangement of rhythms of maracatu music using the
instruments provided to them.
Multiple Computers for each listening station.

This lesson plan will expand upon the last.
The class will start off with call and response rhythms given by the teachers. These rhythms will
be more challenging and true to maracatu rhythms.
There will be three listening stations in the classroom and the class will be split into three groups.
Each group will get to watch the 4-5 minute videos at each station.
The students will be instructed to go back to their seats a discussion will be started with an open
This activity took place for the students to get multiple and different ideas for their final project.
The teacher will introduce the final project and instruct the students to form groups.
The final project will consist of each group performing in a parade with an arrangement of
authentic maracatu rhythms from the videos in their performance.
The teacher will give them the rest of the class time to get ready for the final project.
The informal assessment will take place in the discussion about the different maracatu videos.
The teacher will gage how much the students were paying attention and how much they learned
by their response to the question and to each others comments.
Lesson Plan 5:

National Standards:
2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.
3. Improvising melodies, variations, and accompaniments.
6. Listening to, analyzing, and describing music.
7. Evaluating music and music performances.
4. Composing and arranging music within specified guidelines

Students will be able to arrange maracatu rhythms and form their own style of maracatu music.
Students will be able to perform as a small ensemble within their groups.
Students will be able to perform on the instruments correctly and know how to use each
instrument effectively.
Computers for reference

This class period will be open for the students to continue rehearsing in their groups and getting
ready for the final project for the first 15 minutes.
The teachers should make their way around to each group at least a couple times throughout the
class period to make sure the students have a good understanding of what they have to do and
make sure they are doing the assignment correctly.
The teachers should suggest tips if the students are lost and offer any help they can to get the
students on track.
Each group will then go up and perform what they have created for the rest of the class. Each
performance should be 3-5 minutes.
The students watching the performance will write down comments for the students performing.
These comments will include stuff that the students did well and aspects that they could improve

This will be the final project for this unit. It will be gaged on the progress of the students
throughout unit and use of authentic maracatu rhythms and style. You will be able to tell how
they did by the actions that they took that progressed them towards the final or what held them
back from achieving a good score on the final.
Final Assessment:
The final assessment will be an in class performance. The students will form groups and perform
a parade around the classroom using the maracatu instruments, or ones acting as the authentic
instruments. They will need to use authentic rhythms taken from videos or other resources.
They will need to transition to correct way, where the drum major uses a whistle or other device

to control the rest of the ensemble. They will have to be able to play together as an ensemble so
the rhythms line up with each other and it sounds like a piece of music. The performance will
have to be from 3-6 minutes in length.
5. The ensemble used
the correct styles and
rhythms of traditional
maracatu music.

4. The ensemble used

some correct styles
and rhythms of
traditional maracatu

3. The ensemble used

minimal rhythms that
applied to traditional
maracatu music.

2. The ensemble did

not use any traditional
maracatu rhythms and
therefore did not
perform in the right

5. The ensemble
moved rhythm to
rhythm in the correct
way through the use
of the drum major.

4. The ensemble had

a little bit of trouble,
but managed to move
from rhythm to
rhythms successfully.

3. The ensemble was

confused about when
to switch, resulting
wrong sets of rhythms
to be played within
the ensemble.

2. The ensemble fell

apart when
attempting to switch
rhythms and had to
stop and start over.

5. The ensemble
played all the correct
rhythms at correct

4. The ensemble
played somewhat the
right rhythms at the
right times.

3. The ensemble was

playing two different
rhythms at a time,
confusing some of the
other performers.

2. The ensemble was

playing all sorts of
wrong rhythms at the
wrong time.

5. The performance
was within the time
frame of 3-6 minutes.

4. The performance
was too long.

3. The performance
was too short.

2. The performance
was unable to
commence due to
confusion within the
group and lack of
knowledge about
what to play.