You need to go to São Paulo," Marcela Boechat of Dubas Música told me in 2007. She and I were meeting in Dubas's offices in the Centro district of Rio de Janeiro and she urged me, "If you really want to know about how the Brazilian music industry is responding to changes in global distribution, talk to the record companies in São Paulo." I had been running around Rio de Janeiro for months, interviewing funcionários (industry workers) to find out how they were responding to changes in the international demands for Brazilian music. At the time, I had good reason to focus my research on Rio de Janeiro. For much of the 20 th century, Rio was the locus of Brazil's most celebrated musical developments and the birthplace of the country's music industry. Urban samba, a genre that developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century through a mixture of Afro-Brazilian styles with cosmopolitan genres such as polka and tango, famously solidified in the city's Praça Onze neighborhood. 1 By the 1930s, dictator Getúlio Vargas coopted samba and it became the official musical style of the country. Bossa nova later developed in the city's richest beachside neighborhoods in the South Zone before it became one of the most popular styles of the 1960s. To date, many of the country's most celebrated musical stars have lived there. 2 While Rio's place in Brazil's national narrative is far from limited to music, 3 it is the city's musical life that the government regularly touts to tourists; the country repeatedly celebrates Rio as having the best carnival celebrations, and the international airport is named after Antônio Carlos Jobim, the world famous bossa nova composer. From this perspective, the record industry in São Paulo (or any other Brazilian city, for that matter) has for the most part escaped the attention of casual observers and scholars. 4 Yet, by all accounts, the music scene in São Paulo was becoming a hotbed of creative energy and the city was soon the subject of music press attention, nationally and internationally. 5 As I soon learned, the emerging international visibility of the music scene in São Paulo is part of larger strategic changes among independent record labels after years of uncertainty and reorganization. Brazil's international reputation has been in flux ever since the early 2000s. For much of the 20 th century, Brazil and Rio de Janeiro were synonymous in international discourse. Yet, as the country began to court investors and tout its economic strength, São Paulo began to compete with Rio for the limelight. At the height of the Lula (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) administration (2002-2010), Brazil was changing how it positioned itself in the world. When I first arrived in São Paulo in 2008, I witnessed the beginning of a geographic reordering of the interconnections between new music scenes and cultural policy in that city. By the time Brazil was preparing the host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, those changes had solidified. nation brand, has been contested for quite some tim...
This Introduction elaborates the theoretical frameworks that shape the book, with a focus on meeting points of mediation, attention, and branding. It features a critique of prevailing discourses of listener attention and distraction in popular music studies in favor of relational and trans-human conceptions of attention, which are more appropriate for a study that interrogates mediation processes. It points to the long history of US and British interference in Brazilian politics and situates the present study through a transnational framework. It outlines the historical connection between Brazil’s myth of racial democracy and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes in the country’s brand. The Introduction also outlines the chapters in the rest of the book.
This chapter traces the development of Brazilian music within a “world music” framework, through the influence of music compilations in contrast with attempts to market a short-lived world dance craze (lambada), and through the participation of Margareth Menezes in a high-profile international tour. These musical phenomena owed their heightened prominence to contact between Brazilians and enterprising outsiders in Brazil, especially in the state of Bahia. Brazil’s international musical brand would be linked either to the kinds of music that US-based rock and pop musicians tapped in their effort to revitalize their sound, or to specialist record labels compiled to meet the rising demands of the market. Through these contrasting examples, the chapter historicizes the emergence of “world music” as a marketing genre and subject of scholarly inquiry.
The success of Brazilian music in a climate of increasing inattention and overstimulation altered the image and brand of Brazil in the global marketplace in the early twenty-first century. This chapter focuses on the contrasting examples of Bebel Gilberto and Seu Jorge, and how they approached their careers in Brazil and abroad. Both artists found their most enduring success through new distribution and licensing channels that privileged cut-up and remixed Brazilian music with clear references to iconic images of a Brazilian past in the international imaginary, especially bossa nova of the 1960s. The strategy of licensing recordings to accompany other forms of consumption is shown to have exaggerated the challenges of musically representing Brazil to an increasingly connected and sensorily crowded world.
This chapter investigates how Brazilian musicians adjusted their approach to appealing to audiences in the United States and the United Kingdom once the Brazilian military dictatorship descended into the “Leaden Years.” Many Brazilian musicians sought to affiliate themselves with sounds that more directly linked them to the African diaspora and the Otherness of Brazilian indigeneity. Drawing on the coverage of this music in major music periodicals of the era, it shows the ways that attention to Brazilian music changed after the height of bossa nova. It features close discussions of the penetration of Brazilian musicians into the jazz fusion and funk scenes, including analyses of landmark recordings by Milton Nascimento, Sérgio Mendes, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim, and Deodato.
This chapter analyzes the initial proliferation of bossa nova in the United States and United Kingdom in the early 1960s, primarily as a jazz and dance fad. By using material culled from top English-language periodicals of the era, it traces the popularity of bossa nova in the United States from its adoption by jazz musicians in the early 1960s, the invention of a dance to accompany the musical trend, and the ultimate rejection of bossa nova by purists in the jazz press. It also shows how the style’s initial popularity was partially due to the divisive racial politics that had overtaken jazz in that era, allowing the Otherness of bossa nova to temporarily offer an alternative for jazz musicians and fans.
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