The songs that make Brazil's musicians think of carnival

Mar 05, 2014


Great article, courtesy of The Guardian


Brazilian carnival began in earnest yesterday, so our man [Lewis Robinson, we assume] at the Brazilian record label Mais Um Discos asked some of the country’s best loved musicians which song represents carnaval for them.

 

Lovefoxx of CSS: O que é, o que é by Gonzaguinha

“I know all the lyrics to this song but I have no idea how and when this happened. I think every Brazilian is the same – at some point in their life they just know them. During the verses it has a steady drum beat in the style of Brazilian carnaval baterias, where the percussionists just go for it – very appropriate for samba dancing. The lyrics are absolutely wonderful: “To live and not to be ashamed of being happy. To sing and understand that I’m an eternal learner, I know that life could be better and it will be. But knowing this won’t stop me from singing: Life is Beautiful! Life is Beautiful! So Beautiful!” If you can sing it, it’s awesome. For me this song represents my country as a whole – not just at carnival. It’s nice to dance and surrender to such a beautiful song.”

 

Criolo: Que bloco é esse?’ by Ilê Aiyê

“I do not have so many memories of carnival. But something very special happened to me two years ago in Bahia when I met Ilê Aiyê – a group founded in Salvador who preserve African traditions in Bahia. I had the opportunity to visit the Ilê while recording a video and to meet Vovô Ilê, one of the founders of the group. By seeing his strong presence, simplicity and resistance I could understand that carnival is important for us to remember and celebrate our ancestors.”

 

Mixhell (Iggor Cavalera and Laima Leyton): A Felicidade by Antonio Carlos Jobim

“There is a mixture of happiness and sadness which we feel duringcarnaval. Brazilians love to party and to celebrate life in every manner, and we try to bring this into everyday life. However during this time of the year people in Brazil also become numb, forget their responsibilities and appear sedated by the media’s vision of carnaval. A lot of people spend the whole year working for carnaval for very little or no reward, and then for the rest of the year poverty and corruption carries on. A Felicidade is a popular song at carnaval because it expresses the short happy moments Brazilians experience, through its lyrics, melody and arrangement.”

 

Marcos Valle: Tristeza, written by Niltinho and Haroldo Lobo

“In my opinion, this song from 1966 represents the true soul of carnival. The melody is extremely gorgeous, and the theme of the lyrics is to send sadness away and be able to be happy and sing again. I love it!”

 

Wilson das Neves of Os Ipanemas/Orquestra Imperial: Aquarela Brasileira, written by Silas de Oliveira

“Composed in 1964 by Silas de Oliveira for Imperio Serrano samba school, Aquarela Brasileira is a samba de enredo, a song written for and performed by a samba school. All the classic samba de enredos were composed in the 30, 40 and 50s – people don’t write them anymore. Silas de Oliveira is considered one of the most important samba de enredo composers of all time, who was affiliated with Imperio Serrano. To me this song symbolises carnival for the masses, each and everyone’s carnival theme song, with everyone chanting as one.”

 

Jorge Du Peixe of Nação Zumbi/Afrobombas: Vassourinhas, written by Matias da Rocha and Joana Batista Ramos

“Frevo is the music of street carnival in Recife and Olinda in the Northeast of Brazil. Frevos are fast paced compositions made for thefoliões [carnival crowds] to dance to and this music has been present in my life since my childhood. The one song that represents carnival for me in Recife and Olinda is Vassourinhas, composed in 1909 by Matias da Rocha and Joana Batista Ramos. As soon as the first chords are stroked, the folião goes crazy.”

 

Joyce: Marcha do Remador by Emilinha Borba

“Most people think samba when carnival comes to mind, but marchinhasare also very popular, especially in Rio de Janeiro. Musically, it is similar to a marching band rhythm, but faster, played by a snare drum, and then horns and all the rest. But the most notable aspect of the marchinais the lyrics, which are comments about everyday life, and facts, usually very funny, ironic and politically incorrect – but it’s carnaval, so, who cares? Marchinhas date from the 1930s but they’re still very popular and played in street blocos and carnaval balls today. There is a big marchinha contest that happens every year at Fundição Progresso [a big venue in Rio de Janeir] where new marchinhas are presented. This year’s winner was Cadê a Viga?, a hilarious tune, dedicated by the composers to the mayor of Rio). Anyway Marcha do Remador is one of my all-time favourite marchinhas from 1964, sung by radio star Emilinha Borba.”

 

Siba: Trombone de Prata by Capiba

“Frevo is one of the strongest expressions of Brazil’s culture. The way to fully experience frevo is during carnival in Olinda, live, following the orchestras as they wander along the street, dancing to the brass and percussion. One of the masters of this art and the most known frevocomposer in Brazil was Capiba. Conductor, pianist, football player and poet, he left popular and erudite pieces.”

 

Flavia Coelho: Trevas! Luz! A explosão do universo, written by Dominguinhos do Estácio and Joãosinho Trinta

“I was 17 when my neighbourhood samba school Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Unidos do Viradouro won Carnival Champions of Rio de Janeiro in 1997. There were thousands of us in the streets of my neighbourhood Niteroi celebrating. It was so emotional for everyone because it was the culmination of a year’s hard work. For us in Rio, the samba schools are not only a celebration of the historical heritage of the city but they also represent the heart of Brazil, which leaps every time abateria sounds at the Sambadrome.”

 

DJ Marky: Ary Barroso – É Luxo Só, by Gal Costa

“One of the tracks that reminds me of the many good times at carnaval in Brazil, and from when I used to see it on a TV, is Ary Barroso - É Luxo Só [It’s Just a Luxury]. The lyrics are very simple, but they touch your heart straight away. Here’s Gal Costa (One of my favourite Brazilian singers) performing this incredible song. A true classic and one of my all-time favourites.”


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