Sound: Musical phrase from Mandu-çárá, by Heitor Villa-Lobos, n. 27 (p. 103).
Source: ANUNCIAÇÃO, Luiz D’. Os instrumentos típicos brasileiros na obra de Villa-Lobos [Typical Brazilian instruments in the work of Villa-Lobos]. Ed. bilingual. Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Música, 2006 – Audio included in the CD attached to the book.
The ganzá is a specific type of rattle, which differs from other similar types by having a cylindrical shape of random length. The generic term rattle refers to a group of idiophones with the function of sound adornment and/or linear rhythmic support, which produce a timbral intonation not aligned to the tonal system. The instrument can be made of tinplate, wood, using certain dry fruits such as gourds and coconuts, plastic or any other material that meets the purpose of its function. This one is made of metal. To play, the player makes shaking movements of the instrument. The ganzá appears, for example, in an excerpt from the profane cantata “Mandu-Çárárá” by Heitor Villa-Lobos, adding colors from Brazil to this so-called erudite musical style.
Rattles are percussion instruments found in many musical cultures around the world. Their names and shapes vary depending on factors such as language and traditions in each place. In Brazil, a country of continental dimensions, we can emphasize the issue of cultural regionalism as a determining factor for the nominal property of these instruments, due to the folkloric tradition to which they belong. The percussionist Luiz D’Anunciação, in his book “Os Instrumentos Típicos Brasileiros na Obra de Villa-Lobos,” [The Typical Brazilian Instruments in the Work of Villa-Lobos] cites some examples, such as the “metal maracas, in various sizes, in the folkloric toys of Maranhão; the massaracás, manacás, massaracaias (metal), in the Congo Bands in Espírito Santo; the ganzá, “pau de semente” (metal), in the Bambelô of Rio Grande do Norte; the ganzá or “canzá de lata” [canzá of tin] in the Taieiras of Sergipe; the caracaxá and the “mineiros” (metal) in the Caboclinhas of Recife”, among others. All have the same timbral color, which can be modified if the instrument is made of a non-metallic material. In Villa-Lobos’ work, when there is an indication to use large and small rattles, it means that the smaller must have a more acute intonation. Another particularity concerning the composer’s work is that, in principle, the rattle should always be made of metal, unless otherwise indicated in the score.