Unfortunately I am missing carnival this year but thanks to the magic of the internet – and the enthusiasm and skill of maracatuzeiros at documenting their own activities – it hasn’t been too difficult to accompany the festivities from afar. Here are a few pre-carnival ensaios captured by Raphael Ribeiro
This rehearsal took place on the same street corner as always but with the addition of that weird white sheet as a backdrop, an innovation of Mestre Bi. I don’t know if I’m down with this break in tradition, Bi – it’s called pé de parede, not pé de lençol!
Um artigo sobre como é perigoso ser adolescente no Nordeste. Uma falha dessa reportagem: dá a impressão que é somente nas metrópoles onde as coisas andam assim, embora nas cidades pequenas e nas zonas semi-urbanizadas as mesmas condições se apliquem.
O raio-X das mortes na capital mais perigosa do Brasil para adolescentes
– Fernanda da Escóssia
It may be the traditional “off season” for maracatu, but there is no rest for the maracatuzeiro! Even though it’s the season of festas juninas and São João, there’s a big maracatu event this month at the headquarters of Estrela Dourada in Buenos Aires (in the Mata Norte of Pernambuco). Along with being able to hear Barachinha and a full roster of invited mestres take the microphone during the night, Estrela Dourada will also be honoring the esteemed caboclo João Carreiro, the patriarch of a large and wonderful family all heavily involved in popular culture, who passed away last year. The evening will start with a procession from the town’s main plaza at 9:30 p.m. and descend in a manobra to Estrela Dourada’s headquarters near the main entrance off the highway.
This event was organized by André de Lica, a young mestre and man who wears many hats. He has hosted a radio program in Nazaré da Mata for many years, worked as an MC and announcer for scores of cultural events, and has recently ventured into organizing and producing his own. I won’t be able to make this but I’m sure it will be a fun time and wish them the best of luck!
Este post pode parecer uma estranha reprise de outro publicado oito meses atrás.
No dia 25 de maio, uma comemoração aconteceu próximo à cidade de Nazaré da Mata, em Pernambuco. Realizado no engenho de açúcar onde fica a sede histórica da Cambinda Brasileira, o maracatu mais antigo da cidade, o evento comemorava o reconhecimento do maracatu e do cavalo marinho como patrimônio imaterial pelo governo brasileiro. Com um palco profissional, sistema de som e luzes, e dezenas de artistas e outras personalidades se apresentando e discursando, foi sem dúvida uma festa linda.
E foi também uma grande palhaçada.
Illustration: Marcelo Almeida
This post may feel eerily like a rerun from one posted eight months ago.
On the 25th of May, a celebration took place outside Nazaré da Mata, Pernambuco. Held on the sugar plantation that is the historic home of the city’s oldest maracatu, Cambinda Brasileira, the event was to commemorate the recognition of maracatu and cavalo marinho as “immaterial patrimony” by the Brazilian state. With a professional stage, sound system and lights, and dozens of guest performers and speakers, it was by most accounts a lovely party.
(This essay was republished in an abbreviated form by the Latin American Bureau. Many thanks to them for helping to draw attention to this issue.)
The vibrant street culture and ubiquity of live music is an obvious first impression made on any visitor to Brazil. Samba on the sidewalks of Rio or capoeira in Salvador are common sights and sounds, and not just staged for the tourists: they have also formed a part of social life there for generations. Maracatu de baque solto (sometimes called “rural” maracatu) is less widely known, in part because it exists only in the coastal sugar-producing region of Pernambuco north of the city of Recife. Although it has a strong carnival tradition, its backbone is really the all-night performances that emphasize the poetic prowess of its singers through their mostly improvised verse. These events include the sambadas or contests of intense verbal sparring, a battle of wits and wordplay between two established singer-poets from different maracatu groups, as well as looser, more open “rehearsals” (or ensaios) held once or twice a year by a given group in the neighborhood they call home, when visiting singers are also called upon by the hosts to display their skill throughout the night. The instrumentation is made up of brass and percussion played at a breathtaking pace, but which careens to a halt every time the singer signals that he is ready to launch into complicated stanzas of a cappella sung verse, performed within a demanding structure of rhyme and meter for a discerning audience, fanatics attentive to every detail, ready to howl with derision if a singer slips up. A sambada contest traditionally ends only at the break of dawn, the first rays of the sun revealing which mestre has emerged victorious. These unique events only occur on Saturday nights beginning in the traditional sugar harvest month of September and continue until carnival, at which point the groups take a long break before slowly beginning the cycle all over again.
A great sambada in Nazaré between Mestre Barachinha and Mestre Zé Flor, at the time of Leão Mimoso and Estrela Dourada, respectively. These two previously had a battle of wits and words in the town of Itaquitinga in 2009.
note: The art I created for this has the wrong date! That’s what I get for making the art long after I had returned to the United States, where we write dates all backwards. The real date is October 1, 2011.
Uma grande sambada em Nazaré entre Mestre Barachinha e Mestre Zé Flor, na época de Leão Mimoso e Estrela Dourada respectivamente. Esses dois mestres da palavra já tinham se enfrentado antes num duelo de versos em Itaquitinga em 2009.
Obs: a arte aqui tem a data! E foi até minha criação, rsrs.
The entire recording is 4 hours and 30 minutes
A gravação inteira é de 4h e 30 minutos
Baixar aqui – MP3 320 kbs
To listen to some of it as streaming audio, here is the last 80 minutes on Mixcloud