Thursday, February 23, 2012


To go along with the idea of Frevo, here is a specific dance that originated from the Frevo brass music from Carnival. Capoeira mixes street 'fighting' and dance. The dance was added to the karate-like moves to hide weapons such as knives from being seen by the police.

Eventually capoeira became an acceptable form of dance, and this is one of the street performances we witnessed in the marketplace near our home-stay area in Campinas, Brasil.

(Video ends after 1 minute)

As you've probably noticed, there is no brass in this example, only percussion. Keep in mind that this is a form of dance entirely stemming from a brass ensemble tradition. It is pretty amazing to see how the arts are so closely connected!

Below is an example of how frevo music can be used with capoeira to create a finished product of dance & music. This was shot in New York.


Frevo originated in Brazil and is a type of music created specifically for bands to play during Carnival. The bands were primarily brass with some percussion, and the crowds would cheer for their favorite bands as they came down the street.

Here is a clip of the University of Iowa's JCL (Johnson County Landmark) jazz ensemble playing a frevo with a Brazilian group during one of our shows in Atibaia, Brasil.

(starts at 0:30)

You can hear the audience interacting with the groups the minute we began to play as well. Kind of a cool tradition!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's the Rush? Desacelerar.

The following is a rather unusual sounding piece by the Cia Trombominas Trombone Quartet.

The mixed meter sections, long periods of crisp double tonguing in the lower voices and a super laid back feel make this sound much more like something I would have heard in a concert in South America. Something I haven't mentioned yet is that most Brazilian music comes specifically from dances; which is why most groups will also be accompanied by a percussionist. Much like samba, there is a lot of forward motion to the music in this quartet piece, but it almost never feels rushed or anxious. This was a general Brazilian cultural observation I made while there; people were rarely in a 'rush' to make it somewhere.

I have one simple piece of advice to offer American brass groups (and Americans in general). That advice is:


Slow down.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Just a Closer Walk---Brasil-style

I wanted to explore classic, American street music (aka "New Orleans-style") performed by Brazilian groups. Listening to this group, a quintet titled "SomBrass Quintet", was interesting because I felt they did a fantastic job capturing the New Orleans style brass band music from the United States.

Have a listen. (Its 2 1/2 minutes long; you can do it!!! :D)

This group is a notable example of a fine quintet that is capable of performing a style from another culture with impeccable accuracy. In my next post I plan to explore the idea of 'musical accents' more. In this case, I don't mean an articulation marking in the music, but I mean the overall sound of a group from one culture performing music from another culture; just like an 'accent' when someone is speaking a second language.

Enjoy this great rendition of 'Just a Closer Walk' and let me know if you heard any musical inflections that seem to hint at a 'South American' accent. :)

a paz, pedagogia amigos!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Uber Brass Quinteto (2)

As I forgot to mention in my last post, I think it is very interesting to not only listen to the music itself, but to observe the way the ensemble sets up. Brazilian ensembles tend to perform TOWARDS their audience; in arch-like formations rather than facing each other for ensemble listening and consistency. It is very different from a traditional "American" brass quintet set-up (pictured below).

Also, it would seem that the audience is very receptive (which mirrors the experience I had while in Brazil); they are more willing to sit back and enjoy brass chamber music as a concert, instead of just background music (weddings/church etc)

Something to think about.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baião: Uber Brass Quinteto

As promised, here is some more info on the baião rhythm being used in brass chamber music of Brazil. Below is a link for a brass quintet based out of Brazil--they aren't the tightest, most polished group, but I enjoyed hearing how the rhythm of the baião starts up in the pandeiro (around 1:00).

Upon speaking with some of my Brazilian friends, I discovered that percussionists are included in a high percentage of brass ensembles/chamber groups in South America; so it is common to see a single percussionist or a whole rhythm section with brass groups.

The brass imitate the baião rhythms (ex: trombonist at 1:10; tuba and trumpets at 1:20). The piece is a take on the original piece called "Brazil". Have a listen to how RHYTHMIC everything is--its pretty interesting in contrast to what we view as popular literature in American brass quintet music.

Around 3:11 there are some cool "James Bond-esque" quotes. :)

Enjoy--Uber Brass Quinteto of Brasil