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






A Gazeta - São Paulo, December 12, 1959.


        Around 1922 the Carnival in Petrópolis [in the state of Rio de Janeiro] exhibited distinct characteristics. For some years they continued, with plenty of costumes, confetti, lança-perfume and the traditional parade in the Praça da Liberdade square and on 15 de Novembro Avenue. That is where many people would pile up on the greens by the river that crosses the city to watch the parade of open vehicles from another era, trucks and animal-drawn carts. The people anxiously awaited those gifted showmen, even though they did use the same costumes year after year. The Petrópolis Carnival reached its peak in precisely 1927.

        At that time you would still see choros [which radio now calls regional groups] generating excitement on the streets, instead of today’s loudspeakers that would be perfectly useful if they were limited to providing information; rather, they just interfere with the people’s singing. Nonetheless, what most characterized the Petrópolis Carnival was the organized groups that took to the streets: the Ranchos and the Índios. The first participated only on the last day of Carnival, because they were headquartered in remote neighborhoods. They no longer go into the city, but stay largely in the Cascatinha neighborhood, which has a Carnival that gets better every year. I couldn’t say how many Ranchos are still in the city.

        As a boy, the Índios fascinated me with their spectacularly colorful costumes, dynamic, energetic dances and loud vocal-percussive music. These groups have resisted the forces of vacationers, the famous hotel along the Rio-Petrópolis highway, radio, etc. I don’t know how many groups existed at one time, but I was told there were four in the 1953 Carnival. All of them have that curious mix of whites [mainly of Iberian origin], blacks, browns and sometimes blondes of German descent – these with their Germanic physiques stuck in those macaw plumes...

        During the 1953 Carnival I visited the Grêmio Carnavalesco Estrela do Morin in the neighborhood its name indicates. This group existed at least as far back as 1906, when it was called the Grupo Carnavalesco Destemidos do Morin. After many name and leadership changes it settled with the current name in 1946.


        Until 1949 all the Índios were men, and little by little the group fell apart. But around then the need to excite people about participating in Carnival led the group to accept women. The people liked the change... and their enthusiasm for Grêmio Carnavalesco Estrela do Morin was reborn.

        I could not document much in one day of research, and there is no way I could even describe the group’s costumes or the beauty of their colors. Those who are interested may refer to the article published in O Cruzeiro on March 3, 1953.

        At that time the group was composed of around fifty extras, men, women and children, each dressed for his role: King, Queen, Beacons, one man and one woman; Old Man or Clown; Standard-bearer, woman; Shepherds, six [whose outfits were not exactly what the role would suggest]; Tambourine players, five men wearing shorts and bodices decorated with sequins; Snare drum players, six men dressed like those above; Caboco-Verão, whose role was to “see” the path they would take, doing reconnaissance so that “in case of danger” the group could prepare itself. The “danger” here recalls longstanding rivalries between similar groups in Petrópolis, which gave rise to earlier conflicts; Caboco-Feiticeiro, the medicine man; and lastly the Cabocos, or as they are commonly called, the Índios, twenty-two children and adults. In fact, the Índios or Cabocos are such crowd pleasers and get so much attention they began to call the group “Indians”: men not dressed for the forest or as musicians are called Guerreiros (warriors).

        In addition to the Standard, I should mention some other objects the group carried: a small axe made of wood; Bodoque or Bodoque-de-Caboco, simply a bow but whose name refers to the bow and arrow together, both 150 centimeters long. The group had only two Bodoques, carried by the Cabocas who attended the Standard-bearer; many wooden Arrows, smaller than the Bodoque, that the dancing Cabocos used; a Shield with a small arrow, carried by each boy; a Bastão, the Clown’s thick staff; an Animal or Animals, depending on how many the group had, called “conquered animal,” symbolizing man’s fight “against the beasts,” and therefore man’s fight for survival in the jungles.

        The Cabocos have a chief; the Cacique. He carries a trumpet made from a bull’s horn, blowing just one sound from it. Like the hunting horn, the instrument [...]