Brasileirinho – Choro Documentary

Tonight, I saw a musical documentary on choro music, something I had briefly read about here and there but never really had any true exposure to. I can say I have an appreciation for it now thanks to Brasileirinho, as the documentary is titled. Here’s the description from the official site…

“Brasileirinho is a 90-min musical documentary film about Choro, the first genuinely Brazilian urban music. It was back in the late 19th century in Rio de Janeiro when Brazilian musicians started to blend European melodies, Afro-Brazilian rhythms and the melancholic interpretation of the Brazilian Indians’ music to create Choro. Choro is credited as being the first musical expression of Brazil’s melting pot and had a prominent place in the development of Brazil’s cultural identity. Choro remained a major popular music style until the 1920s, leading directly into Samba and later to Bossa Nova. After a slight decline in popularity, Choro music has made a remarkable comeback over the past few decades.

The film remembers the history but shows, above all, a colorful picture of Choro’s vitality today. The guiding line of the film is the combo “Trio Madeira Brasil” composed of three of Brazil’s outstanding Choro musicians. During a “Roda de Choro”, a traditional Brazilian kind of private jam session, the Trio brings up a concert project. During these sessions or at their homes, some of the most interesting Choro musicians play and remember key events in the history of this Brazilian urban music. A look into a Choro workshop with over 450 participants of all ages illustrates the off-hand genuine Brazilian way to play. “Playing” interviews with well-known Samba and Bossa Nova artists like Zezé Gonzaga, Elza Soares and Guinga illustrate the reciprocal inspiration with Samba and Bossa Nova music. A final show of the “Trio Madeira Brasil” with their guests in one of Rio’s traditional music halls show once more the opulence of rhythms and melodies in Choro that has evolved over the past 130 years into a fascinating form of modern tropical sound.”

On the official site, there’s an interview with the filmmaker, Mika Kaurismäki where he talks about how he came up with the idea for the documentary. It turns out he is also behind another great Brazilian musical documentary.

“Question. When and how did you get the idea for the film? Can you remember when you heard Choro for the first time?

MK: I had made another documentary about Brazilian music, “Moro no Brasil” before this one. It happened that I was in Lausanne, Switzerland, I think it was in May 2003 at the Swiss premiere of “Moro no Brasil” and, after the film, there was this Q&A session. One gentleman – obviously a Choro fan – asked me why I didn’t have Choro in my film. I tried to explain that there is so much music in Brazil that it was impossible to include everything in one film. I said that I liked Choro very much, but “Moro no Brasil” was more about samba and that Choro deserved a film of its own. The gentleman said that he’d produce that film. And that was what actually happened; Marco Forster, who had never produced a film before, kept his word and we started to develop the film.”

More Info

Official Site

5 thoughts on “Brasileirinho – Choro Documentary

  1. Ahh, Choro. I love the music of Choro. Choro which means to ‘cry’ to me is the music of the 20’s in Brazil. With some of the masters of that music form being Pixinguinha and Donga. I am not an expert of Choro and Samba music, but let me in my own way try to explain what are the differences and more strikingly the similarities are between those 2 forms of music.
    When I think of Samba, or more specifically Samba da Roda and Samba da Chula of the great state of Bahia, Brazil I see and hear drums. The beat. The percussionist is playing a rhythm that is so tight and good that he is in fact invoking the gods of Candomblé with a trance like beat or rhythm pattern. There also in the group of Samba musicians is a master cavaquinho and the Brazilian 7-string guitar, the violão player.
    In Choro, these 3 instruments are also included in the band with the exception of a pandeiro in the place of the drum and the addition of the bandolin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and trombone players. And when a Samba group starts to really swing and take it to the bridge, the sound and the groove is remarkably similar to the improvisational skills and sounds of the Choro masters.
    Even though Samba in Brazil is looked on as a music of what’s happing now in Brazil and Choro is considered something that is from the 20’s and compared to the American Jazz of the Loius ‘Satchmo’ Armstrong of New Orleans, and the Chicago swing era, make no mistake Samba or dancing in a circle while making music, is as old as Africa itself. In Rio the dance in a circle while a drummer in palying a beat, the basic form of Samba, was transformed into a March of drumers marching down the street. Hence the Canaval
    To play Choro you had to have master chopps. You had to be an instumentalist. And play with unparreled improvisational skills. Or you simply would be embarrased or ‘cut’ as the used to say in the states. Samba and Choro sound similar to each other because they come from the same root.
    Adam, you actually have a wonderful example of Choro music on your site EOB by Elizeth Cardoso, Barracao do Zinco Even though she is a Samba singer, if you listen to the sweet background music of the instrumentalists that she has accompaning her, that is the sweet sound of Choro.
    I think Americans and Brazilians have always liked each other’s music because of the similarities. For example: Samba is similar to the Blues, Choro and Bossa Nova is very similar to Jazz, and heck while we’re at it, Forro is similar to Country music! And I love Forro too! Go figure.
    Oh, and by the way, Mika Kaurismäki is a guy. And I think he lives in Salvador da Bahia.

  2. And if you look real fast, at the beginning of the Choro documenatry, you’ll see Edson 7 Cordas with his big seven string guitar!

  3. Director Mika Kaurismäki is not a “she” but the brother of Aki Kaurismäki. Both are well-known and prolific Finnish directors

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