Category Archives: Music

Scary Brazilian lullabies

Photo by Alan L/Flickr
Photo by Alan L/Flickr

Most Brazilian lullabies and children songs are scary like hell. Some of them are not exactly child-appropriate. Or human-appropriate.

Check this hit parade:

  • The big classic “Atirei o Pau no Gato”, that says: I hit a cat with a stick, but he didn’t die. Mrs. Chica was surprised by the cat’s cry.
  • What about the morbid “A Canoa Virou“: the canoe turned down, because someone let it happen: [name of the kid] didn’t know how to row. If I were a little fish and knew how to swim, I would rescue [the kid] from the bottom of the sea. Continue reading Scary Brazilian lullabies

Reborn Mutantes

Only two Brazilian rock bands really made it abroad. Heavy-metal Sepultura and psychedelic Os Mutantes.

Os Mutantes’s success is peculiar in the fact that the band had its heyday in the late sixties and early seventies, when it was instrumental in shaping counterculture in Brazil. It was dismantled for decades, till the nineties, when it was progressively brought back to life, championed  by Kurt Cobain, Beck and David Byrne.

Initially formed by brothers Arnaldo Baptista and Sérgio Brito, and red-haired-enfant terrible singer Rita Lee, it blew the country’s mind with its experimentalism and funny, surreal performances, that mixed bridal dresses and Napoleon outfits. Their free and crazy attitude was particularly striking in the tense period of censorship and political restrictions the country faced at the time. Continue reading Reborn Mutantes

Farewell, White Feather

Brazil is mourning – well,  those that have some musical memory are – the passing of Pena Branca. For almost five decades he partnered with his brother Xavantinho in a duo essential to the national country music. Even after Xavantinho’s death,  11 years ago, Pena Branca pursued a solo career that led to a Latin Grammy, in 2001, awarded to “Semente Caipira”.

Pena Branca and Xavantinho authored some great música caipira (melancholic songs inspired by rural life, played with acustic guitars and normally sang by a couple of contrasting voices). The duo was one of the last successful representatives of a musical form that is slowly fading out, substituted by música sertaneja, the highly commercial Brazilian copy of  American country music.

The kings of baião

Before Bossa Nova, there was baião. This contagious rhythm from the Northeast of Brazil was taken to Hollywood by Carmen Miranda, in the thirties, and later originated forró, one of the most delicious forms of Brazilian dance. But the huge international success of Tom Jobim and other Bossa Nova artists somehow eclipsed baião, that only recently had its world revival, thanks to David Byrne.

Luiz Gonzaga is still hugely popular

If you want to learn about baião – and you should – check this trailer of the new documentary “O Homem que  Engarrafava Nuvens” (The Man that Bottled Clouds), that portraits its creator, composer Humberto Teixeira. The videoclip is, unfortunately, only in Portuguese, but you will definitely get the vibe.

Teixeira produced some masterpieces that became well-known in the voice of his main partner, Luiz Gonzaga, the so-called “King of baião“. You may have heard Gonzaga singing “Asa Branca” or “Qui Nem Jiló”  or “Adeus Maria Fulô“. The trademark of baião is the use of the sanfona (a type of accordion) and of the zabumba, a drum played with a mallet and a stick, each striking one side.

One curiosity: Teixeira was the father of Denise Dummont, a Brazilian actress that had some success in the US in the eighties, playing in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” (1985) and Woody Allen’s “Radio Days” (1987).

Starting 2010 with Brazilian music

New Year in Copacabana

In the last day of 2009, a gift to rock your New Year Party: a list of cool podcasts of Brazilian music. Sure, the hosts do a lot of talking, but waiting for the songs definitely pays off.

Caipirinha Appreciation Society – Produced for the University of London’s Open Air Radio, it offers “wonderfully under-exposed Brazilian music of all styles, regions and time-periods”. One of their latest podcasts presents artists influenced by Afro-Brazilian cults, such as umbanda and candomblé.

Coquetel Molotov – The best of 2009 offered by Radio Universitária AM, of Recife (state of Pernambuco). Caetano Veloso, Erasmo Carlos, Banda Gentileza, Céu, Lulina and Zé Cafofinho, among many others.

Farofa Moderna – Jazz, samba, frevo – only the best of Brazilian instrumental music hosted by the MTV portal. The latest podcast includes Airto Moreira, Bocato, Hermeto Pascoal and Sivuca.

Tropicalia MPB – Weekly French program on Brazilian music.

Enjoy the music and have a scrumptious 2010!