Brazilian Popular Music

Curitiba Travel Blog

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Last night, inside an old, stone building whose circular walls were built to enclose the gunpowder stores of the city of Curitiba, Brazil, something greater than potassium nitrate exploded and filled the air: music. No language is more universal than music, and that was extremely evident last night. The beautifully renovated stone building from whose antiqued Brazilian wood rafters hang stage lights and in whose entry arch rest amplifiers was filled to capacity, and then some. Packed into the building like seeds in a Papaya, people filled all of the scaffolding seating, even the chairs behind the musicians, sat on the steps, sat on each others laps, and sat on the floor at the musician’s feet. The beatnik poet with his thick rimmed glasses and black beret was there. So was the balding man with his hunter green sweater tied over his shoulders. And the Asian family who descended two generations. And the young couple in jeans and t-shirts. The blondes, brunettes, red-heads, dyed-heads, pale skinned, dark skinned, old, young, tall and short, all were in attendance. Brazil was in that theatre. The world was in that theatre. And all had gathered to hear Brazilian Popular Music.

The music this audience had come to hear is the new music of Brazil, the new samba. But it is so much more. Listening to the music, swaying my shoulders to the rhythms and tapping my toes to the beat, I came to realize that this music is as diverse and colorful as the people of this country. In a single song you will hear the rhythms of Africa, guitar from Spain, mandolin from the Mediterranean, vocals from the hilly countryside, and the smiles of the Brazilians. Yes, you can even hear the smile. Even if you couldn’t hear the smile on the singer’s voice or in the fingers of the violinist, you could feel the warmth and joy that filled the building. As the night went on the audience took to the unspoken bonds of the music and fulfilled their obligations by singing along the words to a few, well known songs. The music that I went to hear tonight was not just a music performed by a select few, but music lived by many.

Every people have their own story, so every people have their own song. Here in Brazil, the samba and this Brazilian Popular Music are the soundtrack to life as in Buenos Aires was the lines of Piazolla and echoes of Bajofondo Tango Club. As I’ve traveled this summer I’ve found a beat to walk to from the soul of the cities and countries I’ve been to, a beat to which I have never before been cognizant. Upon returning to my city, Atlanta, I need begin the search as a foreigner would to the rhythm of her streets and the notes her people lay down for me to hear.  

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photo by: joesu