What’s the difference between the caixa part for Baque de Marcação and Baque de Imalê? The real answer is complicated and depends on which maracatu nation and who you speak to within that specific group. However, in that past 17 years that I’ve been studying maracatu, learning and playing with Nação Estrela Brilhante, I’ve noticed a few obvious differences.
If you already know how to play Baque de Marcação on the caixa then you’re half way there to knowing how to play Imalê. Remember, the Marcação pattern (one of them) is RRLR-RLRL. Imalê adds two eigth notes in the middle of the measure, which generates more energy and gives the groove a stronger sense of forward motion. Baque de Imalê can also lend itself to a strong funk feel. If you listen to Nação Estrela Brilhante de Igarassu you’ll notice that the caixa plays a backbeat on top of the groove. (excerpt from Maracatu for Drumset and Percussion by Scott Kettner, MicheleNascimento-Kettner and Aaron Shafer-Haiss – Hal Leonard)
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the ciaxa transcriptions from a few different traditional maracatu nations. Here’s an Imalê part for Estrela Brilhante from my book Maracatu for Drumset and Percussion. You’ll notice that the only difference between this part and the Marcação part (RRLR-RLRL) is the first half of the measure and the accents. The first half plays a hand to hand sticking pattern and then goes into the RRLR-RLRL. The accents also change to help emphasize the two 8th notes in the middle of the measure being played on the alfaias.
Here’s another Imalê variation from Nação Cambinda Estrela.
Another popular Imalê caixa part is often played by Nação Leão Coroado. This is another one of my favorites. This patterns is all hand to hand. The accents and swing feel are really what makes this caixa part so funky. Notice that the accents help anticipate the alfaia part in the first half of the measure and then the caixa plays unison with the alfaia for the second half of the measure. It’s fun…try it now!
I suggest that you practice these individually and with a metronome or play along with a recording of the group. Playing along with the recording will help you understand the swing feel and the roll variations. Remember, none of these caixa parts are stagnant. The players are constantly adding rolls and variations to help excite the music. These examples are just the foundation for you to begin learning the maracatu caixa vocabulary.
Here’s a few videos for you to practice along with.