Saturday, September 3, 2016

Chôro -- foot tapping lament from Brazil

(We check out a musical genre borrowed from classical music) 

Image Source
Much before jazz originated -- and was taken to be the true improvisational genre -- there was festivity in Brazil in the form of Chôro, a genre of music. It was like bringing together the polkas and waltzes of European classical music and the African style drums played by slaves on boats and in dormitories.

Chôro means lament. But the music is mostly pleasant and peppy. Reminds you of married life doesn't it? And it's improvisational -- born in 19th century Brazil -- much before American jazz. You don't hear about this genre in popular Brazilian culture and assume Samba to be the great Brazilian sensation. Chôro is, in fact, closer to Brazil's soul.

I have been listening to this style of music for some time, especially for the duelling instruments, as if they compete to bring out the flavours of the tune, finally ending on common ground. It's not always pleasant and may seem unnecessary, as if improvisation has itself become the rigid rule. Fond listeners and students, however, can learn aplenty from the variations and changes in pace. Here is a good selection to start out with.


In the track above, you can easily make out the mandolin -- a prominent chôro instrument -- and the flute. The guitar is employed as bass. Choro was also written for solo instruments like the guitar. Although that would not necessarily identify it with the genre.

 Finally, here is an example with distinct sounds.

I have been lucky to employ the mandolin in some of my professional recordings. It's good to see it centre stage, assuming a vital role in a musical genre.

Share this story on facebook, twitter, and elsewhere and introduce others to 'classical music in simple language'.