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Brazilian Music Workshops and Lectures


1. Brazilian Music Styles

• A survey on the most important styles of Brazilian Popular Music and its history Brazilian music has become recognized worldwide for its unmistakable poignant melodies and syncopated rhythms. In this lecture-demonstration you will learn about the evolution of Brazilian music and its social history.  From Choro and Maxixe, from Baião and Maracatu, this is a chance to learn what is beyond (and behind) the samba and Bossa Nova musical styles that most people know about. You will learn the differences and similarities among these styles, their origins, and the influences they received and contributed to jazz, pop, funk, and rock. Instrumental and vocal music recordings featuring various arrangements will be presented in traditional and contemporary versions. This lecture will open your ears (and mind) to a thorough understanding of Brazilian music and culture.


2. Brazilian Music Rhythm Section I


• A hands on workshop about Southeastern most important styles: Choro, Maxixe, Marcha, Samba, odd-meter Sambas, Partido Alto, Samba-Choro, Samba-Funk, Samba-Canção and Bossa Nova.


Topics covered include how to choose comping patterns and how they work and apply to drums, bass, and melodic instruments; typical bass lines, drum set patterns (hi-hat, cymbals, snare), common mistakes and misconceptions about these styles, and tunes for varied ensemble levels. Repertoire include vocal and instrumental music by most important Brazilian composers. 


3. Brazilian Music Rhythm Section II


• A hands on workshop about Northeastern most important styles: Baião, Galope, Xote, Maracatu, Ijexá and Frevo


Topics covered include same of Section I, plus baião modes, frevo melody characteristics, and more. Repertoire include vocal and instrumental music by most important Brazilian composers.


4. Brazilian Music Ensembles

• Ensembles will explore a variety of styles and music by some of the best Brazilian composers. 


Topics covered include how to choose comping patterns and how they work and apply to drums, bass, and melodic instruments; typical bass lines, drum set patterns (hi-hat, cymbals, snare), common mistakes and misconceptions about these styles, ensemble balance, dynamics and interaction, articulation, phrasing, harmonic progressions and analysis, improvisation, baião modes, phrasing, and melodic characteristics. Tunes might feature 2-, 3- and 4-part voices, as well as rhythm section arrangements. Repertoire include vocal and instrumental music by most important Brazilian composers: Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Cartola, Tom Jobim, Toninho Horta, Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti, and many others. Styles in traditional and contemporary versions include Samba, Partido Alto, Bossa Nova, Samba-Funk, Choro, Maxixe, Maracatu, Frevo, Baião, Galope, Ijexá, Xote in regular and odd meter time signatures for varied ensemble levels.


5. Harmony and Compositional Elements in Brazilian Music


• A study of the evolution of melody, harmony and form in vocal and instrumental Brazilian music. 


In this course students will study the richness of melodies and how they work with various and unique harmonic progressions and form. Styles and periods include Maxixe and Choro, Samba (and its subgenres), Bossa, MPB and contemporary instrumental music. We will take a close look at various styles and selected compositions by Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Noel Rosa, Ari Barroso, Cartola, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Edu Lobo, Gilberto Gil, Djavan, Toninho Horta, Dori Caymmi, Guinga, Hermeto Pascoal, Eberto Gismonti, and many others.


6. Phrasing and Improvisation in Brazilian Music

• A close look at the fundamental aspects of interpreting melodies on several Brazilian music styles.


Material covered includes several studies on articulation, phrasing, styles, improvisation, and rhythmic variations. We will take a close look at notation, interpretation of syncopated rhythms and melodic characteristics and improvisation elements of each style. Practice, readings, assignments, transcriptions, and listening of examples from several recordings will include analysis of melodic interpretation through the study of Choro, Samba, Partido Alto, Samba-funk, Bossa Nova, Baião, Ijexá, Xote and Frevo styles. Students will learn to differentiate and use appropriately jazz, and urban and folk articulations. They will be able to improve their technique and improvisation skills that relate to those styles.


7. The History of Choro

• A lecture about one of the first authentic Brazilian music styles and one of the foundations of Brazilian music. 

Choro is one of the first music styles that developed in Brazil, spanning more than one hundred years. Many of the most important composers and performers were either shaped, schooled or influenced by its improvised counterpoint lines, intricate rhythms, virtuoso melodies, smooth groove, complex form, and often surprising harmonic progressions.

From Antonio Callado (RJ, 1848-1880), to Ernesto Nazareth (RJ, 1863-1934), Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim (RJ, 1918-1969), Valdir Azevedo, Tom Jobim, Guinga and other contemporary composers, the workshop will show through recordings, videos, and slides the trajectory of choro, from its origins to nowadays. We will also take a look at the maxixe style, which is also a dance, and evolved around the same time of choro. 

Choro has always served young musicians as a school of learning music. Like in Jazz, many musicians, especially the rhythm section players, learn the music by ear, and memorize hundreds of tunes. All instrumentalists are challenged by having to learn complex harmonies that modulate through its 3-part form, and to improvise counterpoint lines. Melodies are often very challenging and require a very high level of instrument skills.


8. History of Vocal Brazilian Popular Music     


• A survey of Brazilian singers and composers, the Brazilian Portuguese language, its sounds and diction. 


This workshop will explore the various periods of vocal music in Brazil, starting in 1900 and covering the Golden Era of Radio, Bossa Nova and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music). 


It will chronologically cover the history of Brazilian singers and we will listen to some of most popular and important compositions from last century and now. Sessions might include additional time for a coaching session with students. Topics will include Portuguese language, phonetic sounds, phrasing and style.


9. The Music of Hermeto Pascoal 

• A chronological study of recordings and scores by one of the most important and influential composers in Brazil


One of the most influential and creative contemporary Brazilian composers, multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal has been praised by Miles Davis and Gil Evans as a musical genius. His compositions often borrow from traditional folk material and styles like Samba, Choro, Baião, Frevo, and Maracatu.


 They are often embedded in deceptively simple melodies and contemporary ear twisting harmonies and rhythms. Through audio and score examples this lecture will examine some of Hermeto’ s most important compositions and his writing style.


10. Contemporary Vocal and Instrumental Brazilian Music 


• A survey on the most important Brazilian composers and performers in the last decades

Composers covered include Hermeto Pascoal, Egberto Gismonti, Guinga, Rosa Passos, Dori Caymmi, Chico Buarque, Lenine, Milton Nascimento, Djavan, and many more.


11. What Are They Talking About?

• A study of meaning of lyrics and its music in selected Brazilian songs.


Brazilian music is mostly known and appreciated in the US for their lyrical melodies, often complex harmonies and especially the rhythmic feel and grooves that are so infectious. But, what are they singing about?! In this presentation we will explore the meaning of the lyrics written by some of the greatest Brazilian poets of the last 100 years. We will live how they brought romance, protest, politics, sports, loss, joy, exile, celebration, history, betrayal, humor, metaphors, reality, timelessness, misery, exuberance, and much more to music. Come read out loud some of this poetry, and learn about the composers and poets. Audios, videos and slides will help to illustrate the presentation.


12. The Music of Chico Buarque

 In this presentation we will explore Chico’s trajectory as an artist, listen to selected songs and analyze some of his scores and lyrics. 


One of the most censored composers of the 1964 military dictatorship era, Chico is one of the most important songwriters of the post-Bossa period.


13. Protest Music in Brasil 

This workshop will explore one of the darkest moments in Brazilian history, the military dictatorship that took place from 1964 to 1985, and extraordinary music that was written during this period.


14. The Music of Milton Nascimento

In this presentation we will explore Milton’s trajectory as an artist, listen to selected songs and analyze some of his scores and lyrics.


Milton Nascimento is internationally known as an innovative, influential and one of the most important composers in the post-Bossa period. His reputation as a composer is equally matched by his singing, known for his tone color, range and falsetto.



15. A Brief History of Samba I - The Development of the Urban Samba in Rio de Janeiro

• This session will explore the social and musical evolution of music in Rio de Janeiro during the convoluted decades between 1890's and 1930’s, and how a small group of composers revolutionized the music of their times.


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