During the Games, a Taste of Brazil's Music

Aug 17, 2016

All eyes are on Rio de Janeiro as it hosts the 2016 Olympics. And while Brazil is famous for its rainforests, its beaches, and its diverse riches, it is music that helps make it a cultural powerhouse. WRTI’s Debra Lew Harder delves into one unique sound of Brazil: choro.

Music: “Tico-Tico” by Zaquinho de Abreu, played by Os Ingênuos

In the 1890s, Brazilians began blending European dance forms with African rhythms and harmonies. They called it choro. Many of the musicians were railway and postal workers by day. At night, they created their intoxicating new sound during jam sessions called rodas de choro.

Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos started out as a guitarist and choro player. In Paris in the 1920s, his classical renditions of choros won the admiration of such luminaries as Andrés Segovia and Artur Rubinstein.

Music: Choros No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, played by Gideon Whitehead

By 1960, the more modern sound of bossa-nova had become an international craze, and the older choro fell into decline. But a revival in the ’70s saved choro, and it remains vital to the music of Brazil. Says singer Aquile Rique Reis, “choro is classical music—played with bare feet and callus on the hands.”

Music: “Tico-Tico,” played by Paco de Lucia and Ramon Algeciras