Nação Iracema's Rhythm vs. Áz de Ouro's Ritmo Cadenciado

Each maracatu nation has a particular rhythmic pattern that forms the basis for the loas, "theme songs" (similar concept to samba school enredos) that are composed and performed in competition at each year's carnival parade. Nação Iracema's rhythm retains the standard maracatu cearense instrumentation (surdo, triangle, snare--different from what we find in Recife), and the unmistakable signature 2/4 triangle timeline with the accented upbeat (top video: 18-year-old bateria chief, Cristiano Simão, demonstrates Nação Iracema's rhythm on the caixa, with the help of another brincante on the triangle, and me on the surdo.

Nação Iracema's moderately fast tempo reflects a trend in certain groups to move away from what some consider to be the dirge-like tempos of the past, which can be as slow as 45 beats per minute. This slow tempo, described as the ritmo cadenciado, "cadenced rhythm," was the invention of Raimundo Alves Feitosa, founder of Fortaleza's first maracatu, Áz de Ouro (1936). Áz de Ouro still uses the ritmo cadenciado, intended to express the misery and suffering of slavery (bottom video).

Basic rhythm of Nação Iracema.

Video: Markus Honaker

Ritmo cadenciado of Áz de Ouro, 2009 Fortaleza Carnival.

Video: Markus Honaker

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