Brazilian Music Development

intruments of choro
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With the empire they created, the Portuguese also created an evil that would linger in this world and to which the consequences we still see today: the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Moved by the profit motive and the lack of indigenous Americans to do the hard work, the country started a practice called the ‘Triangular Trade’. They would take some products made in Europe and sold them in Africa to buy enslaved people, that they would transport to Brazil to work on plantations and mines, and these products were then sent back to Europe to sell.

In 1526, they did the first transatlantic slave voyage, from the Coast of Africa to Brazil. This set the example for other European powers to do the same on their colonies, soon becoming a generalized thing.

Brazilian music was formed from the fusion of elements from those African slaves – mostly from the Moçambique, Congo and Angola regions – and from the European and Indigenous Americans. From indigenous whistles to flute, instruments, voice and dance.

Up to the XIX century, Portugal was the entry portal and principal influence that build the music of Brazil, be it erudite or popular, introducing the majority of instruments, the harmonic system, the musical literature and most of the musical forms, even though various of those elements wasn’t from Portuguese origin, but generally European. The major African contribution was the rhythm diversity, dances and percussion instruments – i.e. Maracatu – in the development of popular music and folklore. The indigenous Americans influence were mostly in the north and northeast regions, and are very noticeable on rhythms like carimbó, lundu and marajoara.

From mid XVIII century the cultural exchange with other countries intensified, beyond the Portuguese metropole, creating a diversification, such as the introduction of the Italian and french opera, dances such as zarzuela, bolero and habanera of Spanish origin, and the german waltz and polka.

With the crescent influence of African melodic and rhythmic elements, the popular music began to show a sonority characteristically Brazilian, which consolidated on the passage from the XIX century to XX century, mainly through the diffusion of Lundu, frevo, choro e samba.

The XX century saw an extraordinary blossoming in popular and erudite music, influenced by a fast internationalization of the culture and by the development of a intern context richer and propitious to the cultivation of the arts. It’s a period where the national music also get it’s own autonomy and identity, even though open to new foreign referencies. Villa Lobos is the first big name of erudite musical brazilianism. In the same period the popular music get the respect from the elites and consolidate genres that became registered marks of Brazil, such as samba and Bossa Nova. At the same time rock and American jazz are received in the country with great success, and regional genres of folk origins, such as baião, musica sertaneja, and forró, gain strength throughout the country.

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