Independent in Rio

When record companies view good music as a liability, artists have no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

Singer Rita Peixoto and pianist/arranger/composer Carlos Fuchs are a duo, both professionally and personally, with two collaborative discs to their joint name. Rita Peixoto and singer/composer/guitarist Dil Fonseca are old friends and former bandmates. Carlos Fuchs has just produced Dil Fonseca’s first solo CD. All three are independent artists who create high-quality music with no help from any record company.

They’re not alone.

More and more artists are resorting to independent production, and sometimes, like Rita and Carlos, to independent distribution as well—just to get their music out. None of them has become rich out of self-publishing. In fact, even being a star is no guarantee of a steady income from one’s recorded output. Beth Carvalho said recently that her income has always been derived from live shows and never from discs. After twenty-five years of performing, the world-class guitarist Paulo Bellinati has only now begun to make a living out of his music.

Our trio of artists is in a like boat. All are veterans, with musical careers that began approximately twenty years ago. All produce music at the highest level. Yet the road to recording has been rocky. Rita Peixoto, a highly expressive singer with superb vocal ability and taste, spent years as a cantora da noite (club singer) before releasing her first solo CD with Carlos Fuchs in 1993. The couple’s self-titled disc was released on the Leblon label, which was no guarantee of adequate distribution or promotion. Leblon is the same label that allowed the great sambista Elton Medeiros’ 1995 disc, Mais Feliz, to sink without a trace. Not surprisingly, Rita & Carlos decided to pull their disc out of Leblon and distribute it themselves. For their second joint effort, Na Minha Cara (1998), they opted for self-distribution from the outset. Now, anyone with access to e-mail can buy their discs directly from the source.

Dil Fonseca’s situation is slightly different. Dil has been composing gorgeous songs since the early ’80s, yet his musical career has consisted mostly of accompanying others, although he is an excellent singer in his own right. He’s now cut his first solo CD, Marubá, produced by Carlos Fuchs in his private studio. But Dil feels that as a first effort, the disc would stand a better chance of getting noticed if it were distributed by a label. To that end, he’s currently talking to record companies.

Musically, the friends’ output has little in common. Rita’s stylistic range is very wide. In her first CD, she sang unusual songs by well-established names such as Chico Buarque, Paulinho da Viola, Cartola, and Gilberto Gil, along with newer compositions by Guinga and Luís Capucho. Carlos accompanied her on the piano in spare and elegant arrangements with a strong erudite flavor. Nothing in that CD betrays the fact that the piano was recorded in Carlos’ parents’ living room, in a particularly noisy section of Rio (the piano was heaped with oriental rugs as makeshift insulation), or that Rita sang some of the songs in the apartment’s guest lavatory.

In Na Minha Cara the pair becomes more adventurous, performing mostly new and often experimental compositions by Carlos himself and a coterie of modern composers who happen to be friends: Mathilda Kóvak, Antonio Saraiva, Rodrigo Campello, Luís Capucho again, Paulo Baiano, and Marcos Sacramento. The arrangements are more elaborate than they were in the previous disc.

On a parallel track, Rita is a member of the hottest new samba vocal group in Brazil, Arranco (formerly Arranco de Varsóvia). To non-Brazilians, this five-person ensemble may best be described as the Manhattan Transfer of Samba. Arranco has released two marvelous albums, Quem É de Sambar (1997) and Samba de Cartola (1998).

Dil Fonseca forges his own route, recording only his own compositions. The songs in Marubá evoke the golden days of MPB. If one were forced to make comparisons, the younger Milton Nascimento and Ivan Lins would come to mind. There are people who say that Dil’s voice reminds them of Djavan’s. But all such comparisons wouldn’t be fair to Dil, who is an original songwriter and singer. He wrote most of the lyrics as well as all the music and the arrangements in Marubá. The songs are infectious; it’s impossible not to want to hum them for days on end. Marubá is one of those discs that you leave on your CD player indefinitely for continuous play. I have.

A conversation
with Dil Fonseca

Brazzil—Let’s start with something I ask everyone: what’s your musical background?

Dil Fonseca—Singer, composer, and guitarist. I started my professional musical life in 1982. At the beginning of the ’80s, I founded with Rita Peixoto and other musicians a group called Chama de Banda. This group presented a repertoire of its own original compositions, as well as the work of yet unknown contemporary composers such as Paulo Baiano and Marcos Sacramento, Arrigo Barnabé, and Rodrigo Campello, among others. Chama de Banda was a contemporary of the group Cão Sem Dono, [Baiano & Sacramento’s group] with whom I participated as a guest in shows and recordings. I played guitar with Cão Sem Dono on the soundtrack of the medium-length film E a Propósito do Rio, directed by Roberto Moura in 1984.

Brazzil—How did you get into music?

Dil Fonseca—I was born in Volta Redonda, 100 km from Rio de Janeiro. I taught myself to play the guitar at the age of nine. When I was fourteen I had music and guitar lessons at the conservatory of our town. It was around that time that I began to compose my first songs. At the age of seventeen, I moved to Rio de Janeiro to begin biology studies at the university. They were soon exchanged for music studies at the Instituto Villa-Lobos. During this time I participated in symphonic chorales like the Associação de Canto Coral under the direction of Cleofe Person de Mattos and Coral Pro-Arte under Carlos Alberto Pinto Figueiredo, while at the same time being involved in popular music. Between 1988 and 1991 I spent four years living among the Indians in Amazônia, after which I resumed my classic guitar studies at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. More recently, I’ve come to work in music for theatre.

Brazzil—What were your musical influences?

Dil Fonseca—During my childhood, at home, all my musical influence came from my four older siblings, who listened to popular music of the period (those were the ’60): Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, among others. At the beginning of the ’70s I discovered the Beatles, who for five years filled my ears daily. I knew all their songs and played the harmonies on the guitar. Other than this, my father has a great passion for Beethoven and has an enormous collection of classical discs. In my adolescence, I came into contact with the music of Milton Nascimento, which became unquestionably my major musical influence. Beyond that, I discovered jazz—not as a musical form but as a way to make music, which opened my horizons. Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Astor Piazzolla: I became impassioned with all of them. I also discovered choro and instrumental Brazilian music (that is, in fact, jazz!): Pixinguinha, Villa-Lobos (especially his works for guitar or orchestra), Radamés Gnattali, Tom Jobim, Hermeto Paschoal, Dori Caymmi, Egberto Gismonti, and others. Those remain my musical preferences, but there are also new composers that I hear and get to like.

Brazzil—Would you give us an outline of your musical career thus far?

Dil Fonseca—With the group Chama de Banda, I participated in numerous activities that were part of the cultural scene of Rio de Janeiro. Among numerous other shows, we took part in 1987 in the Projeto Carnavalesca of FUNARTE [the Brazilian government’s cultural foundation] with the legendary singer Emilinha Borba and João Roberto Kelly. We recorded an LP that was never launched. In 1993, together with Ricardo Gilly, I did the musical arrangements for Marcos Sacramento’s show Samba & Amor, part of the Musisfério project at the Espaço Cultural Sérgio Porto. Since then, I’ve worked and traveled throughout Brazil with the theatre piece Contos, Cantos e Acalantos, directed by the actor José Mauro Brant, for which I’ve done the arrangements. Having received much acclaim by the press, this piece is a candidate for the Coca-Cola Award for children’s theatre. In March 1997, I participated with the singer Luciane Antunes in a spectacle revolving around the work of Ary Barroso—part of the Great Composers Series promoted by SESC-Barra Mansa. In 1998, again with José Mauro Brant, I took part in the spectacle Canção para Lorca [A Song for Lorca] of the project Lorca na Rua [Lorca in the Street] which was promoted by SESC-São Paulo. It was presented in more than 25 cities throughout the interior of the state of São Paulo.

Brazzil—You mentioned Samba & Amor. I saw the concert program. I saw several original songs there that aroused my curiosity. For example, “Lapa” (Sacramento). Was that an early version of the hip-hop “Rapa da Lapa” from Caracane?

Dil Fonseca—No. “Lapa” is a small, unrecorded song, with lyrics by Sacramento and music by Ricardo Gilly. It is, in fact, a blues.

Brazzil—What about your two collaborations with Sacramento on the same program, “Safada” and “Carnavaleska”?

Dil Fonseca—”Safada” is a song in the style of samba-maracatu, with lyrics by Sacramento that I set to music later. “Carnavaleska” is a blues that was composed at the time of the Projeto Carnavalesca with Emilinha Borba. At the end of that run (Thursday through Sunday, twice a day for three weeks) I was with some friends: Rita Peixoto, Sacramento, and some others. After a few vodkas and between one song and another, we began to compose this song. Six years later, Sacramento decided to sing it in Samba & Amor.

Brazzil—Since we’re talking about your friends who are also your colleagues, would you tell us how you got together and how you work together?

Dil Fonseca—The people who influenced me in contemporary music have already been mentioned: Paulo Baiano, Marcos Sacramento, Rita Peixoto, Carlos Fuchs, Antonio Saraiva, Dôdo Ferreira, Délia Fischer, Rodrigo Campello, and Suely Mesquita, among others. People who, with their sensitivity and musicality, also influenced me to make music of the kind I’m making. With Sacramento, he always writes the lyrics and I set them to music later. With Suely Mesquita it’s the same way. When arranging the music for “Escorrer” [in Marubá], which I did with Paulo Baiano, I provided the basic ideas and structures and he added the final details. We’re friends who stay always in contact, exchanging ideas and showing new compositions to each other.

Brazzil—What’s next for you?

Dil Fonseca—My principal plan for 1999 is to expose the CD Marubá as much as possible. At the moment I’m looking for a record label that would be interested enough in the material to release it. Following that, I’d like to do the show and, I hope, never to stop playing. On a parallel track, I’m already selecting the songs and preparing others for the next CD.

Marubá track by track

Dil Fonseca—My CD is the first production of the studio of Carlos Fuchs, which he’s tentatively calling Toca da Raposa [Fox’s Lair]. The title of the CD is Marubá, a Waimiri-Atroari word. I lived for four years among the Waimiri-Atroari Indians, in the state of Roraima, northern Brazil.

Brazzil—How did this come about?

Dil Fonseca—A childhood friend invited me. He was involved with an educational project among the indigenous population. He needed people who were disposed to carrying out this adventure. At the beginning I didn’t think of staying so long, but the time just passed. My future wife, Edith Lacerda, joined me there. She ended up joining the teaching staff and dedicated herself to the study of the Waimiri-Atroari language. Edith had more facility with languages than anyone else who worked on this project. When we returned to Rio in December 1991, she took an advanced course in indigenous Brazilian languages, besides her work in art education.

Our task was to teach the Indians to read and write in their own language. Theirs was an illiterate society, with no experience of any kind of writing. We collected myths from older members of the community and translated them with the help of the younger ones, who spoke Portuguese. Since we had to index (i.e., list all the words in alphabetical order) the entire vocabulary of the texts of those myths, the idea of compiling a Waimiri-Atroari dictionary naturally came up and was eventually implemented.

Brazzil—What is the connection between your disc and the Waimiri-Atroari?

Dil Fonseca—Marubá is a Waimiri-Atroari ritual. In fact, the disc isn’t only about the Marubá, but about celebration, which is the key word for understanding this event, in which explode the affirmations, contradictions, cultural signs, passions, disillusions, myths, and rites of passage; an imaginary space in which to celebrate the profane explosion of Carnaval as well as the technical excellence of a great concert artist, a pop show, or the sound of Gregorian chant in a medieval monastery.

When people get together to listen to music, the general posture is always one of reverence, be it in a classical or popular context. The singer, the interpreter, the instrumentalist, or the choir functions as a point of reference, as a catalyst of expectations. Everyone expects happiness, joy, peace, or some other sentiment as a result of that musical moment. In the same fashion, Marubá is an expression of culture and faith, whatever and wherever it is.

When I talk of faith, I relate it to culture. It could be a belief in God or in `Sex, Drugs & Rock `n Roll,’ as the slogan used to be in the ’60s. What I’m trying to say is that music, when it’s performed live, is always connected to the desire to celebrate something with someone.

Brazzil—Tell us about the song “Marubá” that opens your disc.

Dil Fonseca—It’s a song in which I tried to express a little of the universe of an indigenous celebration. The arrangement hangs on the flutes and chocalhos [rattles], since the great majority of the indigenous Brazilian groups have no drums. They use flutes and chocalhos almost exclusively.

Brazzil—It does have the feel of a folk song (in the sense of a modern urban folk song). The flutes are wonderful, as is the chorus. You list both flute and flute in G. How is a flute in G different from an ordinary flute? Is it just the tuning or does it have a different shape?

Dil Fonseca—The flute in G is tuned a fourth below the flute in C, which is better known. The timbre is similar, since both are made of metal.

Brazzil—How is the chocalho made?

Dil Fonseca—Chocalho is what we also call here ganzá. It’s basically a can (it could be a beer can) containing a few seeds or small stones.

Brazzil—The second track is “Paulo,” a very lyrical composition that reminds me a bit of Ivan Lins’ work, although I can’t say why.

Dil Fonseca—“Paulo” is an older waltz, in which I talk about the great thrill São Paulo gave me when I was there for the first time. In the arrangement I cite two other songs: Caetano Veloso’s “Sampa” and Paulo Vanzolini’s “Ronda.” It’s an explicit homage.

Brazzil—That’s clear—and a very beautiful song, not one I would associate with São Paulo at all; very idealized. Next we have a pickup in tempo with “Meninos da Rua.”

Dil Fonseca—Contrary to what you might imagine, “Meninos da Rua” has nothing to do with the expression meninos DE rua [street urchins] which is very common in Brazil. The lyrics are, in fact, about the boys on the street in the sense of neighborhood, friends, and the network of relations with the persons closest to us, those we grew up with. Notice the beautiful cello solo of Lui Coimbra, from the group Aquarela Carioca.

Brazzil—I like the jazzy piano and the vocal repetitions, as well as the gorgeous cello.

On track 4 you have a big favorite of mine—”Boreste”—a very sensual song with a marvelous vocal interplay between you and Sacramento.

Dil Fonseca—This is the earliest song I’ve written with Sacramento. Originally it was composed on the piano, and later I made the arrangement for guitar, which is my instrument.

Brazzil—How long ago was it composed?

Dil Fonseca—I composed it in 1984. I shared an apartment with Sacramento and Baiano. He [Sacramento] had the habit of writing lyrics and spreading them on the living-room piano (that belonged to Baiano). During that period, I was taking piano lessons, and between one lesson and another, I took the lyrics and created a harmonization for them on the piano. It was the first and only time that I composed a song using the piano as the instrument of creation. For the recording, I transposed the music a third lower from the original tone, because this sounded better for voice, and rearranged the guitar for this tone.

I wanted to make a more elaborate vocal arrangement for this track, and we spent the day in the studio, Sacramento, Carlos Fuchs, and I, elaborating the vocals. I really like the result.

Brazzil—You have every reason to be pleased; it’s a wonderful recording, and the vocal arrangement is really superb—I can listen to it all day long. It’s a song full of surprising modulations: just when one thinks that this is a pop song comes an erudite part, and as soon as one’s settled into that groove, it goes pop again.

Dil Fonseca—The interesting detail is in the percussion. For many days I tried to contact the percussionists to record this track; at the time, none of them could make it, because they all had professional commitments. Finally I said to my producer, Carlos Fuchs, “Let’s do the percussion ourselves.” We placed the microphones close to the studio’s sofa and beat on the sofa’s side for the bumbo-like sound. Then I scratched the upholstery with my nails to get the chocalho-like sound. We also made a sound by closing the left hand and clapping on it with the fingers of the right hand.

Brazzil— “Sambeto” is your confession of not having grown up in the samba.

Dil Fonseca—This was an instrumental samba I had composed in 1984, to which I added lyrics a year and a half ago. It talks about what samba did to my general vision of music. I defined the arrangement with a typical “samba de botequim” [“bar samba”]; it may be the best batucada [drumming] on the disc. I find that the lyrics demanded this kind of instrumentation and arrangement.

Brazzil—It’s very successful. The syncopation is infectious; it makes one want to jump up and dance. Yet your voice is so tender—not what one would expect in this type of samba. A beautiful juxtaposition. I also like all the citations from famous sambas.

Dil Fonseca—This juxtaposition wasn’t done on purpose. At least, it wasn’t conscious. I’m glad you saw it that way. I began to play when I was nine. At the age of twelve or thirteen I was an absolute fan of the Beatles, Yes, and Led Zeppelin; I didn’t have an ear for many other things. As an adolescent, with the discovery of Brazilian music, something made me change the sounds of my musical perception. It didn’t just make me hear the Beatles, Rolling Stones and so many others in a different way, but it opened the perception of other rhythms, like jazz, folkloric music, and a lot more. I discovered a musical world that was so close and infinite and that I never suspected was there. What an irony, isn’t it?

Brazzil—Next comes the very brief samba “Chapada.”

Dil Fonseca—This is only a short vignette that serves as introduction to a typical bossa nova in which the Jobinian influence is clear.

Brazzil—Not just Jobinian but also Gilbertian, in the guitar. “Chapada” is an interesting rootsy introduction to the bossa nova “Nau do Amor.”

Dil Fonseca—“Chapada” is, in fact, a complete samba of which I extracted a portion. I composed it during a trip to Cuiabá. Ricardo Gilly, when he made the flute arrangements for “Nau do Amor,” asked me to attach a samba in the form of street batucada to the beginning. It was his concept for the arrangement. I already had this samba ready and used the initial musical theme as a vignette. In my next disc, this samba will be recorded in its complete form.

“Nau do Amor” has the presence of Rita Peixoto, who sang this song during the era of Chama de Banda. As I mentioned, the flute arrangement was done by Ricardo Gilly. The percussion was handled by Laudir de Oliveira (ex-Chicago). The cuíca stands out.

Brazzil—This is another of my great favorites on this disc. It’s so rich, with that slow, delicious buildup: first the guitar, then your voice, the cuíca, the flutes, and finally Rita’s entrance. She’s really superb. I have this quirky little theory that if a cuíca is present in the arrangement, the work can never be brega [kitsch]. You’ve certainly managed to give this song an edge. Jobim’s influence may be noted, but the song sounds completely original nonetheless. And that ending! Belíssimo!

Dil Fonseca—I wanted very much for Rita to participate in this track; first, because she is a great singer and a special friend; second, because she had already sung this song with Chama de Banda back in the ’80s. Laudir de Oliveira created a special climate with his cuíca, a magical atmosphere that’s very appropriate for this type of song. Laudir is an expert percussionist to whom you don’t have to say much—he picks things up from the air…

Ricardo Gilly, whom I asked to make the flute arrangement, is a musician who participated along with Ian Guest in the creation and revision of many of Almir Chediak’s Songbooks. Ricardo spent a considerable amount of time with Tom Jobim, working on his Songbooks [published by Lumiar Editora]. When Ricardo finished the flute arrangement, my only comment was: “You really did make those Songbooks of Tom’s, didn’t you?..” It’s obvious. Thank heaven!!!

Brazzil—Now comes an instrumental piece called “Pedal.”

Dil Fonseca—This is a theme for solo guitar, with a very Brazilian character. Here, too, the percussion is by Laudir de Oliveira.

BrazzilThe music evokes Garoto, Rabello, Bellinati…

Dil Fonseca—In recent years I’ve dedicated myself to the guitar as I’ve never done in my entire life. Studies and preludes of Villa-Lobos, pieces by Marco Pereira, Radamés Gnattali, Garoto, Sonatas by Bach and Sor, the Spanish composers—all this made me see the instrument in a different light. This piece has a bit of that immersion in the instrument. I don’t consider myself an instrumentalist, a guitarist like those you mentioned; I’m more of a composer who plays and composes on the guitar.

Brazzil—The next song is “Bobagem,” another partnership with Marcos Sacramento and essentially a song about messed-up love.

Dil Fonseca—There’s a very interesting story attached to it: I made the music based on a lyric of his that was absolutely depressing, really down. At the same time, I loved the song, because it had the characteristics of a samba de gafieira [dancehall samba]. I told Sacramento I was going to record it but thought that the music deserved a better lyric. Two days later he called me and gave me the new lyrics on the phone. The saxophone quartet provided the gafieira tone that I imagined for the song.

Brazzil—Both the horns and the percussion are a great foil for the voice. Once again, what works so well is the surprising juxtaposition between the lyrics (one would have expected slow music) and the lively rhythm and playful instrumentation.

Dil Fonseca—This song was created the same way I made all the others in partnership with Sacramento: I took one of his lyrics and set it to music. As I said, the song was depressing; however, the melody was up. This was in 1987. Ten years later, when I prepared to record the disc, I asked him to write another lyric. I think it was the first time that he added lyrics to an existing melody.

Brazzil—We’re at track 10 with “Escorrer.”

Dil Fonseca— On this disc, it’s the arrangement that received the highest praise, and I’m delighted, because this is one of my favorite songs. I made the basic arrangement, the introduction and the instrumentation, and Paulo Baiano helped me complete the details. The lyrics revolve around the history of Brazil, the discovery of the country, and some of its personages.

Brazzil—It is beautiful. You got a lot of mileage out of the strings.

Dil Fonseca—I consider it the best-resolved arrangement on the disc. I did the draft of the initial strings theme for viola and bass, and Paulo Baiano helped me finish the cello part. I invited Délia Fischer to play the part of the strings on the keyboard. I think we achieved an excellent sonority by mixing real strings with virtual ones. I like this kind of experience that only in the studio can come out with the desired effect. In fact, the keyboard “strings” enter as the shadow of the real strings; they are there only to reinforce the real strings. In addition, we had the unexpected “tabla” effect in the contrabass during the introduction, an effect that only the bassist could have suggested to me, because I never imagined it existed. The moringa provided the final percussive note.

Brazzil—And the final tender song, “Nu.”

Dil Fonseca—It’s the most intimate moment in the disc. A song of guitar and voice that talks about our coming into this world and leaving it without taking anything. 

Brazzil—That says it all.

Dil Fonseca—I thought it was an appropriate song for ending the disc, as the general sonority of the CD is very varied, and this song invited a cleaner and simpler finale. A naked finale. I added “Chapada” as a final vignette, because as they say here in Brazil, “Tudo sempre acaba em samba…” [everything always ends in samba].

Additional information about Dil Fonseca and Marubá is available at Dil’s website:   Coming in Part II: an interview with Rita Peixoto and Carlos Fuchs.

Marubá (CD; pre-release)   Dil Fonseca (voice, acoustic guitar & percussion)
Dôdo Ferreira (acoustic & electric bass)
Antonio Saraiva (flutes, soprano sax)
Alexandre Bittencourt (flutes & flutes in G)
Rodrigo Campello (electric guitar, 
cavaquinho & bottle)
Billy Teixeira (acoustic guitar)
Tina Werneck (viola)
Lui Coimbra (cello)
Carlos Fuchs (piano, voice & percussion)
Di Lutgardes (percussion)
Sidon Silva (percussion)
Celso Alvim (percussion)
Laudir de Oliveira (percussion)
C.A. Ferrari (percussion)
Guest vocalists:
Marcos Sacramento (“Boreste”)
Rita Peixoto ( “Nau do Amor”)
Chorus: Paulo Baiano, Marcos Sacramento, Rita Peixoto, Eleonora Falconi, Luciane Antunes, Clara Sandroni, Dil Fonseca & Carlos Fuchs
Arrangements: Dil Fonseca, Ricardo Gilly (“Nau do Amor”) & Paulo Baiano (“Escorrer”)

Marubá (Dil Fonseca)
Paulo (Dil Fonseca)
Meninos da Rua (Dil Fonseca)
Boreste (Dil Fonseca/Marcos Sacramento)
Sambeto (Dil Fonseca)
Chapada [vignette] (Dil Fonseca)
Nau do Amor (Dil Fonseca)
Pedal (Dil Fonseca)
Bobagem (Dil Fonseca/Marcos Sacramento)
Escorrer (Dil Fonseca)
Nu (Dil Fonseca)
Chapada [vignette] (Dil Fonseca)

Songs from Marubá


(Dil Fonseca)

Pelo rio na canoa, vai o índio
pra buscar comida para celebrar
cana, banana e beiju
anta, guariba e mutum
vou trazer o que Mawa1 trouxer pra mim
na ponta da flecha, a ponta que lança
na ponta da flecha, apontar

Pela trilha da floresta, vai o índio
pra buscar palha pra corda para celebrar
toda vida, todo nascimento
toda morte, todo casamento
água e terra, sol e lua, homem e mulher
na corda que bate, acorda criança
na corda que bate, acordar

Vou fazer meu Marubá
vou festejar
vou pra festa pra cantar e dançar
watakumararê, waiamutxararê!2

Mawa: Ser Criador para os índios
Waimiri-Atroari habitantes da Amazônia
watakumararê, waiamutxararê: Canto
usado nos rituais dos Waimiri-Atroari


(Translation: Edith Lacerda)

Along the river, by canoe, goes the Indian
to search for food to celebrate
sugar cane, banana, beiju1
tapir, guariba,2 mutum3
I’ll bring what Mawa4 brings to me
on the point of the arrow, the point that lances
the point of the arrow, pointing

Through the trail in the forest goes the Indian
to search for straw to make the rope to celebrate
every life, every birth
every death, every wedding
water and earth, sun and moon, man and woman
the rope that beats, wakes the child
the rope that beats, waking

I’ll make my Marubá,5
I’ll celebrate
I’ll go to the party to sing and dance
watakumararê, waiamutxararê!6

Beiju: Amazonian food made of manioc
Guariba: a red Amazonian monkey
Mutum: a big black Amazonian bird, curassow
Mawa: The Creator in the
Waimiri-Atroari mythology
Marubá: the Waimiri-Atroari ritual
watakumararê, waiamutxararê: chant used
in Waimiri-Atroari rituals


Paulo(Dil Fonseca)

São Paulo o mar espera-te,
em mil canções cantar-te-ei
és como um colosso atroz,
fio ruas em retrós
ora a Liberdade passa sobre nós
e ela é japonesa, e ela é japonesa
um portal vermelho, Japão
em plena avenida

Não vejo a hora de voltar
ver-te em vertente, outras canções
ao rever não me acharei,
nem te reconhecerei
só a fé e a Sé não passarão pra ti
e ela é nordestina, e ela é nordestina
na rua Direita, forró
cordel em plena praça

Sampa cantei pra te flertar
sob o fascínio dos neons
mar de luz, cinza do céu,
labirinto em tom menor
guardarei teu nome em
tom maior pra mim
e ela é tão bonita, e ela é tão bonita
vou versar teu nome, Paulo
não vi tua garoa

Paulo(Translation: Edith Lacerda)

São Paulo, the sea awaits you
in a thousand songs I will sing you
you’re an atrocious colossus
wire, streets in a reel
now Liberdade1 passes by us
and it’s Japanese, and it’s Japanese
a red portal, Japan
in the open avenue

I don’t see the hour to return
to see you at the source, other songs
when seeing you again I won’t find myself
nor recognize you
only faith and the Sé2 will not pass you by
and it’s northeastern, and it’s northeastern
in Direita Street, forró,3  
cordel4 in the open square

Sampa5 I sang to flirt with you
under the allure of neon
Sea of light, ash of sky
labyrinth in minor tone
I’ll keep your name in
major tone for me
And it’s so pretty, and it’s so pretty
I will versify your name, Paulo
I didn’t see your drizzle

Liberdade: a district of São Paulo
Sé: a square in São Paulo
Forró: Brazilian northeastern music
Cordel: popular poetry from
northeastern Brazil
Sampa: Caetano Veloso’s song about
São Paulo; a nickname for the city


(Dil Fonseca)Eu não nasci com o samba
no samba eu não me criei
mas o danado do samba…Bateu de leve na porta da minha ilusão
descompassando meu peito
Entrou sem pedir licença
brincou com meu violão
trancando a porta por dentroCorra e olhe o céu,
Tudo se transformou
Pra que chorar
É com esse que eu vou
O orvalho vem caindo
Pra machucar meu coração
Vai passarLudwig escutou, Amadeus atravessou
João Sebastião se destemperou
fez minha pedra rolar
no bumbo o Beatle bater
e o Nirvana se abrir em flor
quando o batuque chamou
deu-se a anunciação
ala por ala, a história passou
olho d’água, nascedouro
fonte, eterna mina

1(Translation: Edith Lacerda)I was not born in the samba
in the samba I wasn’t brought up
but the tricky samba…Knocked lightly at my illusion’s door
making my bosom beat out of step
It entered without asking leave
played with my guitar
locking the door from insideRun and look at the sky
Everything has changed
Why cry?
It’s with him I will go
The dew is falling
To hurt my heart
It will pass2Ludwig listened, Amadeus atravessou3
Johann Sebastian was out of temper
It made my rock roll,
the Beatle beat the drum,
and the Nirvana open as a flower
when the batuque4 called
Annunciation occurred
ala by ala,5 history passed
fountain, birthplace,
source, eternal mine
Sambeto: samba of Capeto; devilish
Each line is a verse from a different
well-known samba
Atravessou: beat out of rhythm
Batuque: Afro-Brazilian rhythm
Ala: a samba school’s wing or division
at the Carnaval parade

The writer publishes the online magazine of Brazilian music and culture Daniella Thompson on Brazil and the website Musica Brasiliensis, where she can be contacted.


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