How the jury evaluates the music and aesthetics of the samba parades
Create and produce a Carnival parade demands an incredible sum of craftsmanship and art. In the last part of our peace on the samba schools evaluation let’s review five more categories taken into consideration.
It’s always good to remind: there are 36 jurors up to the task. They are spread along the Sambadrome in special suites located at Sectors 3, 6, 8 and 10. Each category is evaluated by four people, one from each of the posts by the runway. The lowest grade of each samba school is discarded during the votes counting.
The drum section is the very heart of a samba school responsible for setting the parade progression, giving support to the singers, cheering up the performers and trying to enchant and impress the public with its intrincate rhythmic manoeuvres called “paradinhas” in Portuguese.
A Bateria judge evaluates a samba school giving scores ranging from 9 to 10 with 0.1 intervals. They must consider if the drums section kept a steady and regular cadence and if it matched the singers’, the synchrony of the various instruments, the creativity and versatility of the players and the precision of the manoeuvres executed, although they are not mandatory.
As in an orchestra a bateria is organized in groups of percussion instruments. The bass drums set the cadence, the snare drums for harmony and swing, repiniques for calls and the tamborins, sort of violins of samba – for their rhythmic designs follow the samba lyrics. There are also other instruments like agogos, cuicas, cymbles. No wind instruments are allowed though. The chords (guitars, violins and cavaquinhos) are grouped with the singers at the sound car placed behind the percussion players.
Salgueiro’s Bateria during the Carnival 2018 parade:
If you call them samba schools, that’s what they must sing during the parade. At first, the schools used to perform more than one song per presentation with some improvised verses. From the 1940’s on choosing one theme and a music that helped to tell that story became the rule.
The theme-samba receives a score for their lyrics and melody. The first doesn’t have to be entirely descriptive; it may choose an interpretative style, mentioning the theme without much detail. It must be adequate to the story told, poetic, well written and have verses with the correct metric. The judges give the other half of the grade to the melodic qualities of the song. It is important that the music incentives the parade performers to dance and sing.
A well-chosen samba is able to change the course of the competition. Sometimes a less luxurious and sumptous presentation may outrank more expensive budgeted parades because of an energetic music. This year two of the best sambas of were ranked in first and second places.
This is the most technical category. It represents literally the harmony between singers, performers and the drums section (bateria).
Judges will give grades ranging from 9 to 10 with 0.1 intervals to evaluate how the samba matches the rhythmic design of the percussion, if the official singers are in the right tone, if the samba school wings are actually singing along.
Before the Sambadrome was built it was fairly common that wing at the head and the back of the school sang different parts of the samba because they were not hearing each other. Modern sound system made that almost impossible to happen. Important to mention: schools cannot be punished for mistakes caused by sound equipament glitches.
Costumes are part of the aesthetic dimension of the show. Along with the music, they are the main tool samba schools use to develop the parade theme. Typically a samba school will present 25 to 40 wings or sections, each with an specific outfit. The judges receive a guide naming each individual costume and its meaning inside the story, including those that perform on top of the floats.
Costumes are graded according to their project and execution: firstly their creativity, how easy they communicate the story being told even for those not familiar with the theme. Judges also evaluate if the sections present a regular costume pattern. If hats are missing, shoes are of different colours, parts of the skirts are ragged, things like that.
- Alegorias e Adereços
Floats were an inheritance from other types of carnival organizations but the technological evolution put them on the spot as one of the greatest attractions of the show, for their boldness, creativity or magnificence.
Judges must take into consideration two aspects, each deserving half of the final score from 9 to 10, with 0.1 intervals. Conception evaluates how adequate they are to the theme, if the artistic style is coherent, how useful they are to the script of the story. Also creativity is the bonus and not the opulence, as it might seem.
The Execution considers the impression caused by each project, the sytle, distribution of material and colours. The artists have to be careful with the lighting, and overall appearance. Are all the performers on top of it correctly dressed, do they have the full outfit?
Judges also notice if there are some strange objects to the stage, like a forgetten ladder, a bucket of paint, or something like that. It is important to notice that due to the restrictions of height and width during the transportation of the floats from the factory to the Sambadrome parts of the projects are finished with the float correctly positioned at the gathering area (concentration). An Special Group samba school should have at least 4 floats and no more than 5.
The amazing pirate ship float at Portela Carnival 2018 parade: