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– Brazil Journal 21, 5 do Novembro – Joseph Thieman

November 18, 2012

Brazil Journal Week 21 November 5, 2012

Friday was the “ Feriado de Finados,” which is the celebration of the lives of passed loved ones.  I planned on spending my day relaxing and practicing, but instead I found myself in the parking lot in front of an old cemetery. As I walked along the cemetery wall I was hit by the aroma of flowers, cigarettes, and fried meat mixed with the scorching heat. There were people of all ages there carrying flowers. The lot was overflowed with cars, and the wall outside was lined with venders selling flowers, pastels, coconut juice and other items. Once we entered the cemetery there were people everywhere; every bench and path was saturated with people. In the only remaining plot of land without stones there was a band getting ready to play music. Nanci commented with “ a large festa,” in the most sarcastic voice I have ever heard. The heat was ruthless, even though I was looking forward to having temperatures under 90 degrees. I walked through hundreds of tombstones trying to find her parents with her. Finally, I found the matching stones and called her over to me. She gently set down one bouquet of flowers on each side of the twin plots and made the sign of the cross. It seemed like such a melancholy act after, only minutes before, arguing and haggling with the man selling the flowers about their price. Nearly every tombstone had fresh flowers next to it. Some had a plate with the remains of candles. I watched children playing amongst the stones scattered in neat little rows, while their parents cried and lit candles and held hands. I couldn’t help but wonder who everyone was mourning for, and how long their loved one or ones have been gone. Did the young couple with kids lose a child, or was it their parents?

The music that has been in my head this week primarily has been a type of music called Choro, or Chorino. It came about when indigenous people’s music, and the music of Europeans mixed together. The music is typically played by 7 string guitar, bandolim, pandeiro, cavaquinho, and saxophone. The music is often extremely fast, and has very beautiful, sequence type of melodies. It is like someone wrote melodies in the style of Mozart, with a syncopated chord pattern, and a highly active bass part; which is played by the 7 string classical guitar. It often has the same kind of virtuosity I associate with Django Reinhardt. The chords are mainly diatonic, and include a lot of secondary dominants, and diminished chords. The form is typically in three parts, and is often played AABAC. The music is often very animated, and sometimes very sad. The word “choro” literally means “to cry.” I highly recommend this music to anyone reading this. You can easily find recording of some of the following songs on YouTube.

  • Ve se Gostas
  • Noites Cariocas
  • Corinthiano
  • Carioquinha
  • A Natureza
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