Category Archives: Music

BBC documentary about Brazilian music

Brasil, Brasil“, the documentary the BBC made four years ago is a great sample of the main Brazilian musical rhythms. Yes, it has cliches, is pretty mainstream and pays tribute to the old same characters (João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Carmem Miranda) – but it is an accomplished and pleasant introduction to the topic, with great interviews and historic footage.

This is the first of four parts of Episode 1, that goes from samba to Bossa Nova.

And here are the other parts of Episode 1 – Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 – and Episode 2 (Tropicália Revolution) – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 –  and Episode 3 (the scene these days in several Brazilian cities).

Watch also: BBC documentary about Brazilian slavery and Nelson Cavaquinho at home at Mangueira and

Unexpected duos

Caetano Veloso and Odair José in 1973

What happens when you mix artists with very different musical backgrounds?  Some are outraged, but most are smitten. Let’s see how you will react to these three videos:

  • Toquinho (Vinícius de Moraes main musical partner and a big icon of Brazilian music) and two of the country’s lead heavy metal guitar players, Andreas Kisser, from Sepultura, and Kiko Loureiro, from Angra:

  • This partnership of the very kitsch Odair José with international star Caetano Veloso was pretty scandalous in 1973. They sing Odair’s “Vou tirar você deste lugar“, a musical reference for those who date prostitutes and promise to come riding a white horse to rescue them.

  • Finally, two huge voices, “classic” Nelson Gonçalves and iconoclastic soul man Tim Maia:

Do you have any additions to this list?

Luar do Sertão marathon

luar do sertao
The moon seen at the National Park of Caraça, Minas Gerais. Photo by Glauco Umbelino/ Flickr

Luar do Sertão, one of the anthems of the Northeast of the country, was written by Catulo da Paixão Cearense and João Pernambuco  – whose origins are evident in their names. One of the most recorded songs in the country’s history, it was previously seen on Deep Brazil in the voice of Marlene Dietriech.

Check these other versions and decide who delivers the best interpretation:

Caipira duo Tonico e Tinoco

Continue reading Luar do Sertão marathon

Children’s songs from Bahia

Girl from Chapada dos Guimarães, Bahia. Photo by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr
Girl from Chapada dos Guimarães, Bahia. Photo by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr

Listen to these wonderful children songs from the countryside of the Southwest region of Bahia state, collected by Project Cantigas de Infância. It was conceived by Christiana Fausto, that spent her childhood in that region, and wanted to keep the memory of those songs alive. She collected their lyrics and partitions and also 18 downloadable songs. They speak of love, family, complex relationships – or challenge you with tongue twisters.

Con cuis cuis

Moda do viuvo


O Ze

Read also: Scary Brazilian Lullabies


10 (acoustic) guitar heroes from Brazil

Yamandu Costa in photo by André Zsep/ Wikipedia

It is very difficult to list the best acoustic guitar player in a country of major guitar players. But, if you browse the guitar fora that discuss this topic on the web, you will find a few recurrent names:

1 – Raphael Rabello – this guitar demi-god died young, at 33, in 1985, but it is impossible not to include him in this list. Here he plays “Luiza”, by Tom Jobim, the song that inspired my daughter’s name.

Continue reading 10 (acoustic) guitar heroes from Brazil

Gorgeous Maracatu

Maracatu Baquenambuco. Photos by Passarinho/the local Government of the city of Olinda/Flickr
Maracatu Baquenambuco. Photos by Passarinho/the local Government of the city of Olinda/Flickr

Maracatu is one of the best examples of fusion of Portuguese, African and Native Brazilian traditions. It is, basically, a street procession of a king, his queen and the court, followed by a percussion band. It evolved from the crowning of the Congo king, a popular festival apparently originated in Olinda, Pernambuco state. The music evolved from the chants played during Congadas, folk cerimonies that culminate with the election of the king and the queen of the Black Nation.

The details may vary and may include a multitude of princesses, fake Natives covered in feathers and baianas (women dressed in huge baloon skirts, white turbans and golden necklaces). They may pass around the calunga, a rag doll attached to a baton. The group is followed by the percussion orchestra that plays drums of different sizes, shakers, snares and agogô.

There are three main styles – Maracatu Nação, Maracatu Rural and Maracatu Cearense, this one practiced in the state of Ceará. Maracatu Nação or de Baque Virado originated in the early 18th century in Olinda, while Maracatu Rural, initiated in the 19th century in the countryside of Pernambuco. It includes a pilgrimage and a big reunion in Recife, the state capital.

Same source. Photo by Evane Manco
Same source. Photo by Evane Manco


Continue reading Gorgeous Maracatu

Caipira music, the real roots folk from Brazil

cacique e pageMúsica caipira, the music style that has its origins in the Brazilian countryside, somewhere around 1920, has a vague resemblance with Mexican ranchera music and Paraguayan guaranias – it is also sung by a performer with a guitar (although in Brazil they normally come in pairs) and deals with love drama, nostalgia, and rural life.

In the last twenty years, it got increasingly influenced by American country music and was re-baptized as música sertaneja, which is hugely popular in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul. Electric guitars were introduced and cowboy uniform was adopted by groomed, rich looking lead singers. Sertanejos Zezé di Camargo and Luciano even got a Latin Grammy Award last year, for their Double Face CD.

But before the boom of sertanejos, there was the real deal – roots caipira music. Here are some wonderful classics:

Chitãozinho and Xororó – Saudades da minha terra

Almir Sater – Tocando em Frente

Sérgio Reis – Menino da Porteira

Cacique and Pagé – Pescador e Catireiro

Liu and Léu – Boiadeiro Errante

Alvarenga and Ranchinho singing the love story of a skeleton couple in a cemetery.

Raul Torres and Florêncio – Mourão da Porteira

Tibagi and Miltinho – Orgulhosa e Bonita