Brazilian Music Rank

Brazil has the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and river; Brazil has the Iguassu Falls, the biggest waterfalls in the world; Brazil has the Pantanal, the hugest concentration of wild life in America; Brazil has the longest tropical beach coast in the world, with internationally unknown paradisiacal beaches. Brazil has the biggest popular street festival in the world (the Carnival)…

Those are objective and statistically verifiable phenomena. But I would dare to add another one: Brazil also has the world’s most genuine set of musical traditions and expressions.

An assertion too bold?

Undoubtedly. And a risky one, too… I should explain myself better. I do not contest the dominance of anglo-american music, or the prominence of some higher expressions of it. I accept that. In a certain sense, if compared to north-american music, brazilian music is just a minor player in the world music panorama.

When I place the Brazilian music at the top of the world rank, I am selecting some particular expressions of it. And I am considering the way Brazilians live their music and express it.

Brazilians love music, with an intensity unknown elsewhere. In places like Salvador da Bahia the music and dance are a regular popular explosion. Until midnight on certain days of the long summer, the music doesn’t stop, with people and vendors mixing with bands and street musicians everywhere. For Bahianos (the inhabitants of Bahia) and Cariocas (the inhabitants of Rio) any occasion is suited for music.

You may ask: and the creativity, and the artistic themes? Where are the higher expressions of that music? Do they exist?

Surely. And by that I am not pointing to some major samba themes (there are major samba themes), or to the Bossa Nova of forty or fifty years ago. I mean present day music, top quality in the world (though not necessarily at the commercial top).

Some of the present day brazilian music is highly elaborated, demanding attention, with lyrics having a very broad importance (its lower international visibility is due to the language in which it is expressed: Portuguese).

There are plenty of new highly inventive brazilian composers and performers. And Brazilians love their musicians and composers. They are their gods. Gods with names like Maria Bethania, Gal Costa, Ivan Lins, Ivete Sangalo, Elis Regina, Djavan, Daniela Mercury, Elba Ramalho, Marisa Monte, Milton Nascimento, Rita Lee, Adriana Calcanhoto…

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