Category Archives: Music

Misterious peacock – when cordel literature seduced the country


OPavoMisterioso_180 (1)“O Romance do Pavão Misterioso” (The Romance of the Misterious Peacock), published in 1920, is one of the most famous stories of literatura de cordel – those booklets produced in a domestic press, illustrated with rustic woodcuts and sold in street markets, hanging from clothes-lines (thus the name, cordel). It is also one of the very few cordel stories that made their way into mass culture.

Attributed to José Camelo de Melo Rezende, it tells the story of a Turkish man, Evangelista (“the son of a capitalist”, says the rimed story), who creates a peacock-shaped flying machine to seduce and kidnap Countess Creuza, the imprisoned daughter of a Greek nobleman. You can read the whole story online (in Portuguese).

In this lovely 1975 short video, extracted from the documentary “Nordeste: Cordel, Repente e Canção“, a cordel salesman recites parts of Romance do Pavão Misterioso.

Continue reading Misterious peacock – when cordel literature seduced the country

Carmen Miranda impersonations

Photo by Eric and Christian/Flickr
Photo by Eric and Christian/Flickr

Always imitated, never equaled, singer/actress/persona Carmen Miranda died in 1955, but she remains one of the country’s main icons and ambassadors. A favorite of comedians and drag queens, Carmen is frequently impersonated. This is just a little sample:

First, the hors-concours comedian Lucille Ball, followed by Brazilian rocker Rita Lee, Italian actor Ricardo Billi in 1951 film  “Arrivano in Nostri”, and Derico (musicianat Jô Onze e Meia Brazilian TV program).

Continue reading Carmen Miranda impersonations

7 anthems to celebrate Brazilian Day

Photo by kat.tak/ Flickr
Photo by kat.tak/ Flickr

Let’s celebrate Brazil’s national day with some music. The National anthem may be the most popular – sang in parades on Independence Day and in the opening of soccer games -, but it is certainly not the country’s most beautiful anthem. Do you know the other ones?

1 – Hino à Bandeira – the 1906 Flag Anthem has lyrics by poet Olavo Bilac and music by Francisco Braga.  You can read the lyrics here. It has a peculiarity. There are two versions for the refrain, with only one difference: the word juvenil (youthful) sometimes is substituted by varonil (manly). Traditionally, young people sing the first version, while adults choose the second.

The refrain:

Recebe o afeto que se encerra
em nosso peito juvenil/varonil,
Querido símbolo da terra,
Da amada terra do Brasil!

Continue reading 7 anthems to celebrate Brazilian Day

The music from Piauí

Map of Piauí, from Wikipedia

In a country where five cities – São Paulo, Rio, Brasilia, Recife and Salvador – seem to concentrate most of the musical production, or at least most of the music that reaches the radios,  it is pretty hard to remember a successful musician from Piauí. The state, in the Northeast of the country, is normally associated with three features: its peculiar shape, mostly inland, with a really tiny coast; a few rich, wet areas, such as the Gurguéia Valley, surrounded by lots of drylands; and the amazing Serra da Capivara archeological site. Now, music?

Hopefully, this might change thanks to the local musicians union, known as Capivara (just like capibara, the giant rodent). It just released a double CD with 34 songs by some great piauienses artists, covering several styles, from baião to reggae, from bossa nova to tango. Listen here to a few of these really amazing artists:

“Quer dizer você” (Anderson Nóbrega / Carol Costa / Glauco Luz), sang by Carol Costa.

“Baião no terreiro” (Vagner Ribeiro), sang by Vagner Ribeiro e Valor de Pi.

“Boca de Barro” (Fátima Castelo Branco), sang by Fátima Castelo Branco.

“Cajuína” (Geraldo Brito), sang by Geraldo Brito

“Cantigas de apaixonar” (Gilvan Santos), sang by Gilvan Santos

“Calmaria” (Vavá Ribeiro), sang by Vavá Ribeiro

“Zabumba” (Júlio Medeiros), sang by Júlio Medeiros e Banda

“Paixonite” (Glauco Luz), sang by Glauco Luz / Carol Costa.

Thanks to Laura Macedo, from Portal Luiz Nassif, that first wrote about this project.

You have never seen Raul Seixas this way

Raul Seixas in art by Luiz Fernando Reis and Ana Maria/Flickr
Raul Seixas in art by Luiz Fernando Reis and Ana Maria/Flickr

Raul Seixas, the rock composer and singer who died 22 years ago at the age of 44, was one of the main representatives of the country’s counterculture. He preached a non-conformist way-of-life in songs such as “Gita” (based on the Indian sacred book Bhagavad-Gita), “Há 10 mil anos” and “Metamorfose Ambulante” (where he says he prefers to be a walking metamorphosis than to have preconceived ideas about everything).

In 1974, with his musical partner Paulo Coelho, that later became a huge esoteric bestseller writer, Seixas created the so-called “Sociedade Alternativa”, a community based in the preaching of English occultist Aleister Crowley. To these days, he is adored by a legion of fans and impersonators.

In this rare 1977 TV video clip, he sings his manifesto against lucidity,  “Maluco Beleza” (Cool Crazyman), without his trademark beard and hippie look.

Pifano, the Brazilian flute

Zé do Pífano. Photo by Fabio Pozzembom/ Agência Brasil, through Wikipedia

Pífanos or pifes, the Brazilian flutes, are a product of the cultural fusions so typical in the country.  On one hand, they are made of bamboo, just like the instruments used by several Native groups, but they have holes positioned like the ones in European flutes. Pífanos are very common in the Northeast region. Their high notes are absolutely irresistible, as you can check in the following videos, featuring pifeiros João do Pife (from Alagoas), Edmílson do Pífano (from Caruaru, Pernambuco) and Zabé da Loca, a lady that got this nickname because she lived for 25 years inside a cave, in the state of Paraíba.

João do Pife

Edmílson do Pífano

Zabé da Loca

This post was inspired by the amazing portal Luis Nassif Online.

Tico-tico no fubá marathon

Tico-tico no fubá (literally, a very typical sparrow in cornmeal), chorinho composed by Zequinha de Abreu in 1917, is a virtuoso tour de force, included in the repertoire of fearless musicians that want to prove their talent and their speed.

You will find here:

  • the unforgettable version by the Youth Orchestra of Bahia
  • Duo Siqueira Lima, a Brazilian and an Uruguayan sharing one guitar in a fun – and maybe slightly romantic – way, at the Brazilian Music Institute, in Florida, US.
  • by amazing performer Ney Matogrosso
  • by a very young Paco de Lucia
  • by Ethel Smith, in an organ, in 1944 Bathing Beauty movie
  • and the essential version, by Carmem Miranda, sang in 1947 “Copacabana” movie (the film’s poster was found by the Spanish website Carteles Mix).



You can see many other versions at WFMU Beware of the Blogs.

Great pop music from the Amazon

Gaby AmarantosThe musical universe of the Amazon region, that includes rhythms brega, tecnobrega and tecnomelody, is mostly ignored by the rest of the country.

Check here for a sample of  musicians of the state of Pará. The most popular is Gaby Amarantos, a Valkyrie that is also known as Beyoncé of Pará, but I would like to call your attention to Dona Onete and the instrumental ensembles, such as Orquestra Jovem de Cellos da Amazônia.


Dona Onete

Gaby Amarantos, known as Beyoncé of Pará

Continue reading Great pop music from the Amazon

Brazil national bird, flower, holiday, anthem…

Sabiá-laranjeira photographed by the great Bart van Dorp/Flickr
Sabiá-laranjeira photographed by the great Bart van Dorp/Flickr

Ever wonder what’s Brazil national…


You might think it is the blue macaw or the toucan. In fact, sabiá-laranjeira (Turdus rufiventris or, in English, rufous-bellied thrush) became the official national bird in 2002 thanks to a presidential decree.

It was probably chosen because of a famous 19th century chauvinist poem by Gonçalves Dias, Canção do Exílio (The Exile Song), that says: “Minha terra tem palmeiras/Onde canta o sabiá/As aves que aqui gorgeiam/Não gorgeiam como lá” (My homeland has palm trees/ Where the thrush sings/ The birds that sing in here/ Do not sing as they do there). It was written when Dias was in Law school in Portugal.

Pay attention to his music – it may have different “accents” depending on the region where they live. In fact, sabiás can also imitate the voice of other bird species. Continue reading Brazil national bird, flower, holiday, anthem…