Maracatunaíma: Musical Semiotics, the Northeastern Imaginary and the Sound of Fortaleza

Danielle Maia Cruz, Michael B Silvers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that Eletrocactus, a rock band based in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil, attempts to construct a new regional imaginary by citing pre-existing musical signs of their city, state and nation while also creating new musical vocabularies. In doing so, they participate in various discourses concerning local, regional and national identity. For the members of the band, their music generates feelings of self-recognition and promotes the preservation and production of local culture. Engaging a theory of musical semiotics, this article analyzes recordings and presentations of the band Eletrocactus viewed in the context of Ceará’s regionalist musical history, including the role of the maracatu cearense tradition, the Pessoal do Ceará and the Movimento Cabaçal. As such, the songs of Eletrocactus re-imagine Fortaleza, Ceará, the Northeast, and Brazil.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVibrant – Virtual Brazilian Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • musical vocabulary
  • Maracatu
  • Northeastern Brazilian music


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