Choro: A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music (Profiles in Popular Music)

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Choro is a type of Brazilian popular music similar in background to the celebrated Cuban son of Buena Vista Social Club fame. Choro started in Rio de Janeiro as a fusion of African-based rhythms and structures with European instruments and dance forms. In the 20th century, it came to represent social and racial diversity in Brazil and was integrated into mainstream film, radio, and recordings throughout Latin America and Europe. It formed a basis for Brazilian jazz and influenced the music of Heitor Villa Lobos. Today choro is viewed as a type of popular folk/traditional music in its own right. Its history parallels that of race, class, and nationality in Brazil over the last 100 years.

Product Details

  • Series: Profiles in Popular Music
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Pap/Com edition (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253217520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253217523
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces

Customer Reviews

A Fascinating History: The Powerful Symbolism of Music

2 people found this helpful.
 on July 31, 2011
By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel
Imagine a form of music, popular with racial minorities and bohemians, first becoming symbolic of racial and elitist social policy but later turning into a political tool of nationalism and social unity. Consider that this very same musical style is soon spurned by youth with the rise of rock and liberal thought, rediscovered and nurtured by scholars and government, but after a loss of interest, returns in honor and incorporated into contemporary performances. I am not referring to American jazz but to Brazilian choro, a fast, sometimes syncopated musical form that arose in the late 19th and early 20th century (as with American ragtime). Two musicologics, discovering that their respective doctorate disserations from two universities were similar in topic, agreed to collaborate and merge their scholarship into a single book dedicated to the full history and importance of choro. It is a remarkably fine book. Some of this history has been presented before in books tracing the history of samba, but none have offered such thoroughness and detail. Moreover, it is well written and consistently interesting. The book clarifies some points of the music’s origination, particularly maxixe, merely sketched in other texts, provides biographical information about some of the masters of choro, such as Pixinguinha and Jacó de Bandolim, explains the role of roda (informal jam sessions), describes the internal dynamics and instrumentation of choro and the musical play of malícia (impish improvisations to challenge accompanists in the band), and even includes choro in classical music. [I first encountered the term choro in the music of Villa-Lobos.] Although the authors (and editor, no doubt) gave the subtitle as “A social history of a Brazilian Popular Music”, the themes are larger and echo the development of individual and civil freedoms, increased gobal cultural exchange, and technological advances. A chapter covers the happy current status of choro in Brazil and in its influence in the music of other lands, such as the explorations of choro with the bluegrass mandolin of Mike Marshall and the cello of Yo-Yo Ma. The book nicely tells the complex history of a yet living, dynamic musical form. A CD of historical and more contemporary examples of choro is included. The book would be of interest not only to ethnomusicologists and social and political historians but also folks interested in the music of Brazil and world music in general.

A must read for the choro musician

2 people found this helpful.
 on May 7, 2011
By alfred hanna
This is one of the few comprehensive books on Brazilian choro music available in English. A very good overview of the history of this dynamic ensemble and virtuoso Brazilian style. While it covers the 125+ year history in great breadth, it leaves me wanting to read more in depth from the authors on all the various musicians that, due to obvious limits of space, they could only give overviews of, such as Jaco(b) do Bandolim. I am sure the authors, given their extensive research have likely one or two more books of this length in their notes.

Five Stars

 on October 19, 2017
By EduardoSouza
Great book on choro! A must have for choro players and afficcionados.

But it is a great introduction to the form

One person found this helpful.
 on October 15, 2014
By Stephen G. Townsend
This book is now a little dated; particularly in view of the explosion of interest in choro worldwide. But it is invaluable for background that is necessary to understanding choro. There are many musical examples. The book may quickly get beyond a reader without some musical knowledge. But it is a great introduction to the form, the history and the important artists of this wonderful musical form.

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