Maracatu: Maraca 2.0

MARACA 2.0 – Applying “Pullouts” and “Control Strokes” in Brazilian Rhythms

By: Eduardo Guedes

For over two years now I have had the privilege of studying with global drumming ambassador, Dom Famularo. While drummers from all over The United States and abroad travel hours just to have a lesson with him, I am lucky enough to live in Astoria, New York which is just one hour away from Dom’s drum studio in Long Island, New York. He is passing on the knowledge that his masters, Joe Morello and Jim Chapin, passed onto him including the concepts and techniques of the free stroke, moeller, pull outs and control strokes.

In one of our lessons Dom showed me an article written by the Great drummer/educator, David Garibaldi, where he explores the use of pullouts and control strokes in excerpts from his book, “Future Sounds”. His concept of applying technique to a musical idea in a specific music style, in his case Funk, fascinated me.

So, one day in the middle of a practicing session I thought to myself, “What if I do exactly what Garibaldi did and look for examples of those accent stroke combinations in my book, Brazil for Drum Set?”. As I predicted I could apply the same theory as Garibaldi’s to my book.

The first rhythm I examined was Maracatu. Its origins are from The Coronation of The Black King ceremony that used to take place in the city of Recife and Olinda which are in The State of Pernambuco located in Northeastern Brazil. In the early 1700’s, when Brazil was still a Portuguese colony, the enslaved Africans would consecrate a leader, The King of Congo, who would speak for the slaves in the presence of their masters. This ceremony was done with a procession that involved music, dance and theater. From that procession evolved what is known today as Maracatu.

Before we go on to the examples, let us review what pullouts and control strokes are. Remember that those techniques concern the execution of sequential strokes played with different dynamics – from soft to loud or from loud to soft.

Pullouts: Two notes played with the same hand – an unaccented note (soft) followed by an accented note (loud).

Control strokes: Two notes played with the same hand – an accented note (loud) followed by an unaccented note (soft).

The following examples were taken from the Maracatu section of ‘Brazil for Drum Set’ (page 40). We will analyze the snare drum variations (exercises 34 and 35). The idea here is to explore the combinations of pullouts and control strokes with the characteristic press rolls found in Maracatu.

My suggestion is to practice each of the following examples alternating hands. Play 4 measures with the left and then 4 measures with the right hand. Start slow and gradually speed up the tempo, from 40 to 80 bpm approximately.

Ex. 34: Snare Drum Variation #1

  1. Let’s start by identifying the pullouts on 2 and 4.


  1. Now let’s find the control strokes played on 1 and 3.


  1. Finally, let’s use both adding press rolls on 1 and 3 to emphasize the accents.


  1. This time we will interpret the strokes on 2, 3 and 4 as a pullout/control stroke combination. Here we have an unaccented note (soft), followed by an accented note (loud), immediately followed by another unaccented note (soft).


  1. At last, we will play all the accents as press rolls, characteristic of the Maracatu rhythm.


Once you are comfortable with the syncopations and the accents of those examples, try to apply them to the Drum set adaptation on Ex. 33, 46 and 47 from my book, playing the full Maracatu pattern. I encourage you to try this exercise first with the left hand playing the snare and right hand on the ride cymbal and then with your right hand on the snare and left hand on the ride cymbal.

Ex. 33 – Maracatu/ Drum set Adaptation


Ex. 46 – Agogô part adapted between hi-hat and snare


Ex. 47 – Bell part played on the rim with the left hand


This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of possibilities when it comes to using pullouts and control strokes in the context of Brazilian Rhythms. Remember that the idea here is to apply the technique in a musical context and to have fun!

Brazil for Drumset

Brazil for Drumset

For further information on these subjects and the style discussed in this article, I suggest the following books: “Accents and Rebounds” by George Lawrence Stone, “Master Studies I and II” by Joe Morello, “It’s Your Move” by Dom Famularo, “Brazil for Drum Set – Vol. 1 (North East)” by Eduardo Guedes, “Brazilian Rhythms for Drum Set” by Duduka da Fonseca and Future Sounds 2.0 by David Garibaldi (Modern Drummer, April 2007).

Eduardo Guedes is a drummer, percussionist and educator originally from The South of Brazil. He has been recording and touring nationally and internationally with Nation Beat and The Myla Hardie Family Band. He is the author and publisher of Brazil for Drum Set Vol. 1 (North East)”. Eduardo is endorsed by Vic Firth sticks and mallets and LP Percussion.

Hudson Music Insider - Lessons, Deals & More - Sign Up Today!