Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brazileirinho Mika Kaurismaki

Mika Juhani Kaurismäki (born September 21, 1955 in Orimattila, Finland) is a Finnish film director.

He is the elder brother of Aki Kaurismäki.

Mika Kaurismäki has lived in Brazil and has made several Brazilian-themed films, including Amazon, Tigrero, Sambólico, Rytmi and Moro no Brasil. His latest film is Brasileirinho [1], a 2005 musical document about traditional Brazilian choro music.

Choro (IPA: ['ʃo.ɾu], literally "cry" in Portuguese, meaning "lament"), traditionally called chorinho ("little cry" or "little lament"), is a Brazilian popular music style. Its origins are in 19th century Rio de Janeiro. Originally choro was played by a trio of flute, guitar and cavaquinho (a small chordophone with four strings). Other instruments commonly played in choro are the mandolin, clarinet, and saxophone. These melody instruments are backed by a rhythm section composed of guitar, 7-string guitar (playing bass lines) and light percussion, such as a pandeiro. The cavaquinho appears sometimes as a melody instrument, other times as part of the rhythm.

Arrangements for piano of famous chorinho works (like "Carinhoso") often appear in e.g. TV shows.

Structurally, a choro composition usually has three parts, played in a rondo form: AABBACCA, with each section typically in a different key. There are a variety of choros in both major and minor keys.

Concha Buka

Much of the success of this style of music came from the early days of radio, when bands performed live on the air. By the 1960s, it had all but disappeared, being displaced by Bossa Nova and other styles of Brazilian popular music. However, in the late 1970s there was a successful effort to revitalize the genre, through TV-sponsored nation-wide festivals in 1977 and 1978, which attracted a new, younger generation of musicians. Thanks in great part to these efforts, choro music remains strong in Brazil. More recently, choro has attracted the attention of musicians in the United States, such as Mike Marshall, who have brought this kind of music to a new audience.

The cavaquinho

The cavaquinho (pron. /'ki.ɲu/ in Portuguese) is a small string instrument of the European guitar family with four wire or gut strings. It is also called machimbo, machim, machete (in the Portuguese Atlantic islands and Brazil), manchete or marchete, braguinha or braguinho. It is frequently and fondly called cavaco in Brazil.

Musician with cavaquinho minhotoThe most common tuning is D-G-B-D (from lower to higher pitches); other tunings include G-G-B-D and A-A-C#-E. Guitarists often use D-G-B-E tuning to emulate the first four strings of the guitar.

Valdir Azevedo (born in Rio De Janeiro in 1923 and died in São Paulo on 21 September 1980) was a choro conductor and performer. He wrote 130 compositions during his lifetime and played the cavaquinho. He is considered by many to be the first Brazilian cavaquinho shredder ever.

The origins of this Portuguese instrument are not easily found. Gonçalo Sampaio, who explains the survival of Minho region’s archaic and Hellenistic modes by possible Greek influences on the ancient Gallaeci of the region, stresses the link between this instrument and historical Hellenistic tetrachords. The author holds that the cavaquinho and the guitar may have been brought to Braga by the Biscayans.[citation needed]

There are different kinds of cavaquinho. The cavaquinho minhoto, associated with the Minho region in Portugal, has the neck on the same level as the body, and the sound hole is usually in the raia format (raia is Portuguese for batoidea).

The Brazilian cavaquinho, associated with Brazil, as the cavaquinhos associated with Lisboa and Madeira, differs from the minhoto in that its neck is elevated in relation to the body, and the sound hole is traditionally round; thus it is more akin to the traditional guitar.

In Spain there is a similar instrument to the Portuguese cavaquinho, belonging to the family of the guitar, called the requinto, which also has four strings, a flat bridge, cover and ten fret wires, whose tune is D-A-C#-E from low to high pitches. Jorge Dias believes it was imported from Spain too, where the guitarra, guitarrón, or guitarrico are also found, along with the Italian chitarrino, saying: "Without setting a date for its introduction, we must acknowledge the remarkable honour that the cavaquinho achieved in Minho thanks to traditional music of a popular character, its joyful songs, its lively dances... The cavaquinho, as a rhythmic and harmonic instrument with its own vibrating and cheerful sound, is one of the fittest instruments for accompanying viras, chulas, males, canas-verdes, verdegares, prins."

It is a very important instrument in Brazilian music, especially for samba and choro. The standard tuning in Brazil is D-G-B-D (although D-G-B-E and the mandolin tuning E-A-D-G are also used for soloing). Some of the most important players and composers of the instrument's Brazilian incarnation are: Waldir Azevedo, Henrique Cazes, Paulinho da Viola, Luciana Rabello, Alceu Maia, Mauro Diniz and Paulinho Soares. The samba cavaco is the connection between the rhythm and harmony sections, playing the rhythm comping. It is played with a pick, with sophisticated percussive strumming beats, unlike the picture above.

The cavaquinho is also found in other places where the Portuguese left an imprint, namely Cape Verde and the USA (especially Hawaii), and became an important part of the popular music of those places.

The Hawaiian Islands have an instrument similar to the cavaquinho called the ukulele, which is thought to be a development of the cavaquinho, brought to the island by Portuguese immigrants. Actually during the 15th Century the four-course cavaquinho reached Africa as well. The Hawaiian ukulele has four strings and a similar shape to the cavaquinho, which was introduced into Hawaii by Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes, and João Fernandes in 1879.

Henrique Cazes

A contemporary Brazilian master of the cavaquinho is Henrique Cazes (b 1959) from Rio de Jainero. The above and following info is quoted from his official website (click headline):

Born in a family of amateur musicians (his father was a guitarist and composer; his mother a singer), he started to play the guitar when he was six years old. He gradually went on to play cavaquinho (a four-string soprano guitar similar to the ukulele), mandolin, tenor guitar, banjo, twelve-string "caipira" guitar and lately the electric guitar - all self taught.
His professional debut came in 1976, with Coisas Nossas (Our Stuff), an ensemble that reveled in Brazilian music of the 20s and 30s. In 1980 he joined Camerata Carioca, where he worked together with two musicians who influenced him enormously: mandolinist Joel Nascimento and famed composer Radamés Gnattali. With the Camerata Henrique recorded the albums "Vivaldi & Pixinguinha" (FUNARTE 1982) and "Tocar" (Polygram 1983). Working regularly with singers Nara Leão and Elizeth Cardoso, Camerata traveled all over the country and toured Japan in 1985.
In 1988, Henrique started his career as a cavaquinho soloist, recording his first LP "Henrique Cazes" (Musicazes). The same year he published the instructional book "Modern School of Cavaquinho" (Lumiar Editora), which is still the most respected music book on the instrument. Still as a soloist, he released "Tocando Waldir Azevedo" (Kuarup 1990), "Waldir Azevedo, Pixinguinha, Hermeto & Cia" (Kuarup 1992), "Desde que o Choro é Choro" (Kuarup 1995) and "Relendo Waldir Azevedo" (RGE 1997). In 1997 he wrote the book "Choro, do Quintal ao Municipal" (Editora 34), a history of the 150 years of Choro music.

He founded and leads the Orquestra Pixinguinha, which since 1988 has performed and recorded Pixinguinha's original arrangements, with CDs also released in Europe and Japan. Considered the best cavaquinho soloist today and certainly one of the most active, Henrique Cazes developed a parallel career as record producer (with numerous record awards), in addition to his work as a composer of film, theater and television soundtracks.

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