Cry of Brazil
October 3, 2007 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Choro (the Portuguese for 'crying', pronounced "shoh-roh") is a style of Brazilian music that originated in Rio de Janeiro in the nineteenth century. Choro combines Afro-Brazilian rhythms with conventions of European dance music. It is primarily instrumental music with great scope for improvisation and is traditionally played by flute or clarinet, guitar and/or cavaquinho (page includes English translation), although banjo or bandolim are also commonly heard. Some names to know in choro are Pixinguinha (1897-1973), Jacob do Bandolim (1918-1969), and Paulinho da Viola, (born 1942).

In 1930 Getúlio Vargas was made President of Brazil by the military in a (relatively) bloodless coup. As part of the Estado Nôvo Vargas' government attempted to assert the significance of Brazilian culture and celebrate 'truly Brazilian' art forms, of which choro was considered a part, with samba taking the central role as the exemplar of Brazilian music. This constrained the development of innovative choro due to nationalistic rhetoric rejecting foreign influences. In the 1970s choro was revived but limited itself largely to recreating classics of the genre.

In the late 1990s choro returned and innovative new players began working within the form to develop the art. Some names to know are the Orquestra de Cordas Brasileiras, and one of my personal favorites, the Trio Madeira Brasil.

There is also a movie by Mika Kaurismäki about choro.

This is my first FPP.
posted by winna (15 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Nice post!
posted by ob at 10:24 AM on October 3, 2007

Thank you!

It's hard to find good English links for Brazilian music. I had to hunt for some.

The movie is on Netflix, if anyone is particularly interested in learning more.
posted by winna at 10:39 AM on October 3, 2007

Great first post winna
posted by Wilder at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2007

¡Fantastic post!
Orquesta Nova plays a hauntingly beautiful choro on this album, highly recommended. Their music blends an incredible range of modern classical genres.
posted by FissionChips at 10:59 AM on October 3, 2007

The win ! This is good muzak !
posted by elpapacito at 11:00 AM on October 3, 2007

What a fabulous post! winna, Welcome to MetaFilter. And congratulations on it being a superb first post. Loving every one of your links!

So interesting to learn how a type of music was exalted as a nationally valued art form and then limited because of that. Not knowing anything about Brazilian music, your post had me Googling and learning.

Joao Gilberto's Carinhoso that you linked, perhaps accidentally under "Pixinguinha" is heaven. A sublime duet between young and old, Carinhoso (Pixinguinha/Braguinha). A vintage video of him.

Paulinho da Viola too. ahhh. That Trio Madeira Brasil is wonderful. But Gilberto is amazing.

Looking Gilberto up on Wikipedia I learned "He is credited with having created the bossa nova beat" and that "Bossa nova is a refined version of samba, de-emphasizing the percussive aspect of its rhythm and enriching the melodic and harmonic content." I always thought of the bossa nova as kind of corny. It's so utterly different when Gilberto does it, poetic, contemplative and sensual.

Street musicians playing choro.
posted by nickyskye at 11:18 AM on October 3, 2007

Thanks so much for posting this, winna, and thanks for the wonderful additional links, nickyskye.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:20 PM on October 3, 2007

Another theory on the origin of the name:

The term may also have derived from “xolo," a sort of ball that would gather slaves of the farms, an expression which, based on the confusion caused by its paronym in the Portuguese language, started to be known as “xoro” and finally, in the city, must have started to be spelled with “ch."
posted by liam at 12:52 PM on October 3, 2007

Thank you.
posted by greenskpr at 4:35 PM on October 3, 2007

Hi winna, fine post indeed!

Here's a fun clip from a fellow name of Cavaco who's got a bazillion vids up on youtube. I love this one: Video Cavaco V, which features the estimable Mr. Cavaco, resplendent in an Iron Maiden t-shirt, explaining and demonstrating his lightning strumming technique. Can't understand a word, but I could listen to Brazilian Portuguese all day long, anyway. Also, check his vocal imitations of strumming technique. Those of you with samplers, get to work!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:58 PM on October 3, 2007

Great post, winna. Thanks!
posted by homunculus at 5:56 PM on October 3, 2007

Thanks for this!
posted by Songdog at 6:29 PM on October 3, 2007

I went to a small (actually tiny) bar downtown Rio de Janeiro, tuesday was "choro night". On the stage 2 women singing, a guy with a cavaquinho and another one playing a bongo drum.

The bongo guy was wearing a suit, tie, not really casual.

I asked the waiter about him.

"Oh, he's the State Secretary for Science and Technology, he plays every tuesday".
posted by cardoso at 12:01 AM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

Check out Choro Famoso, featuring the wonderful Mike Marshall on mandolin. (apologies - I don't know how to create a link.) They played in my town a couple of years ago, and got me hooked on Choro.
posted by shifafa at 4:45 PM on October 4, 2007

Oh -- and thanks for the great post!
posted by shifafa at 4:45 PM on October 4, 2007

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