Highlights of Musical

About the works

The Coming Decline of Frevo

Tambourine Playing in Brazil

The African Influence in Brazilian Music

Frevo Steps and Music

Art and Artists

In Terms of Music from São Paulo

A Mistaken Analysis of a Brazilian Rhythm

Scales in Brazilian Folk Music

The Indians of Petrópolis

Índios or Cabôcos of Petrópolis

Notes on Playing Marbles

Variations on the Boi

Variations on the Baião

Variations on the Maxixe






Diário da Noite – Recife, January 27, 1951.


          The people of Recife have been very pleased with the trip to Rio de Janeiro next Carnival of one of its most celebrated frevo groups, VASSOURINHAS. They are pleased because the people of Rio will see the real frevo, with authentic music and choreography. It seems to me, however, that the number of musicians going with the group is somewhat exaggerated. But… the exaggeration is largely justifiable.

          There is no doubt the event will be the best form of advertising for the Carnival here. However, I am familiar with Rio de Janeiro’s [urban] popular music culture. I know that any successful new and original music will be subject to a flood of tasteless imitations. This happens with any successful foreign music. The frevo is not foreign, but it is one of the rich forms of our popular music that Rio’s cariocas don’t know about. Of course I am talking about the authentic frevo, not the fake ones recorded by irresponsible orchestras, with their jazz-like “variations” that have nothing to do with the actual dance.

          One detail that has helped preserve the frevo’s rhythmic drive, imposing orchestration and characteristic form is the fact that its composers do not just “listen.” Rather, they are always musicians imagining the bands playing then immediately writing their inspirations into music. The result is that composing frevos makes the instrumentation itself composition also. With very few exceptions, the frevo’s composer orchestrates it too.

          This is not the case with the music made in Rio de Janeiro. With the exception of José Maria de Abreu, carioca composers do not know music. Some of them may be extremely talented, but all of them are completely illiterate musically speaking and feed audiences the worst conceived and counterfeited things imaginable, forcing on the people the monstrosities we’ve become accustomed to hearing. When circumstances become the trend, listeners end up accepting the aberrations offered them.

          Now these composers – concerned more about ensuring success than quality production – want to earn money from places that guarantee copyrights. Looking for the “easy” by way of the “known,” they prop their compositions up on the horrendous and twisted boleros foreigners send us. Sometimes they go even further, cynical copies of familiar melodies, Brazilian and otherwise.

         Once the success of the VASSOURINHAS occurs, the cariocas will try to compose frevos... Since they will not really assimilate their form, and “softening” its characteristics would help standardize it for recording “factories’” interests, it will be polished, marketed and turned into a debauched “model” of one of our most original and vibrant folk music expressions. Just like the cariocas, driven to mimicry, copy banalities from other countries – which the public buys due to an economic process beyond the scope of this article – the recifenses will be driven to imitate the corrupted Rio versions of frevo, victims of unfair competition imposed by that same economic game.

         Recife has already been seeing this: Recently, a number of “listener” composers, counterfeiters from Rio, have been writing frevo’s that are caricatures of simple southern marches...

          Unfortunately, the respectable frevo tradition is doomed to disappear when cariocas begin to produce them and recifenses begin listening to their banalities – like when last year a frevo came to us from...São Paulo!!!

          This is why I am convinced beyond all doubt that the VASSOURINHAS’ success in Rio de Janeiro will be the first big “step” toward the frevo’s  decline, both musical and choreographic. The greater the group’s success, the greater the probability we’ll see this wonderful music decline.