I was in a gigantic urban park in São Paulo once, called Ibirapuera, when I saw a crowd off to the side of the walkway. In the middle of the onlookers were two guys with tambourines who were combining comedy with music. At first I thought they were just singing a song of theirs until I listened in and figured out they were making everything up on the spot, involving and entertaining the crowd at the same time. Unfortunately, the joke was on the singers, for when the song ended, the crowd dispersed and no one bought any CDs. Looking back, I wish I had bought one.
“Literatura de cordel is one of the two types of oral poetry found in northeast Brazil. In the improvised poetry, or “obra feita“, a singer or repentista creates stories on the spot, using action and people around him as inspiration. In literatura de cordel, though, the poetry is in written form and the cordelista may read all or part of his story in front of an audience to entice buyers.” – Kathleen de Azevedo