So I have been following my ears a lot in Brazil — When I hear music in the air, I track it down, and this has led to some great discoveries. On my 3rd day in Brazil, I heard the sound of a Maracatu ensemble, a giant drum ensemble, with roots in religious ritual, that plays rousing syncopated music in processional style. If you heard it on the street, you’d want to run and catch up to it so you could dance. And that’s what I did, and in the process discovered that there was Maracatu ensemble that practiced on the University campus 5 minutes from my house. At my first Maracatu practice, I met a guy from the U.S. He was going incognito, speaking very good Portuguese and blazing through his drum part like a pro. But through some keen detective work, I figured out his secret North-American-ness. I was keen to know someone who could tell me what was going on, amd I did my best to make him my friend. Thankfully, he was amenable to this plan, and it turned out that he is also a SICKLY talented percussionist and is hooked into all sorts of percussion and music scenes here in Floripa. So Dan (my new friend’s name) has been giving me the inside scoop on all sorts of amazing musical opportunities of which I had been dismally unaware, INCLUDING, a free pandeiro class that takes place in the University woods even CLOSER to my house.
“What is a pandeiro?” you may ask. It is a frame drum with metal jingles around the rim, called platinelas. You may see it and think, it is a tambourine. It IS NOT A TAMBOURINE. No diss to the tambo, but it holds in its humble frame a Quantam world of rhythmic complexities that dwarf the Newtonian universe of the Tambourine. It’s a key part of a Samba ensemble (as well as many other styles), and with its pats, slaps, thumps, and clean crisp pattering of platinelas, carries a lot of the swing of this ever-so-Brazilian form of music. Our class is taught by a super cool dude named Osvaldo, or “Vavá” (He must be super cool if he is giving a free pandeiro class in a forest once a week to whoever choses to stop by!). As far as I can tell, Vavá is to the pandeiro what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar. He would argue that he is only a disciple of greater Pandeiro Hendrixes of Brazil, but the point is, that this guy can get sounds out of the instrument that I didn’t know it could hold. Here is a quick video (editing capabilities are still limited due to lack of computer), to give a flavor of the fun that is pandeiro class, and the sick skills of Vavá. I am stoked to incorporate some pandeiro into surfer grrrl hip hop instrumentals!