Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 16, 2010

Geneseo B.P. – Tuesday lotsa new stuff

We are now being called famous by the news media. Yesterday there was a large color picture of the band in the paper with a story about the concert we will give tonight. They tell us that it is very difficult to get anything in the paper because the newspapers are controlled by political groups who are very stringent on what gets in the paper.

We just left the Hotel on two smaller buses than the coach we have been on so far. Later in the day we will go on a bus tour of the city, and they say our large bus won’t make some of the turns we’ll go on. So we now have a new translator for the second bus. She just told us that we are famous, because on TV this morning the new reported that there is a large group of American musicians who will give a concert tonight. Maybe their appreciation for music and the arts will inspire them to come hear the concert. That concert will be in an outdoor performance venue.

We are hearing from our new translator. We are going past the surfer beach. She said at this beach, called Baja, people come out every night to watch the sunset. At the moment that the sun goes below the horizon, everyone applaudes.

We are on our way to the Federal University of Salvador. The Federal University is free of tuition for all students. It is a sign of prestige to attend the university. If you qualify, you get to attend, if you don’t qualify, you don’t pay for yourself, you have to do something else.

Salvador was built to be the new land of the Portuguese empire . Salvador was built to be the capital. There is a fort in the harbor to defend against attacks by Spanish and others. We are going into the wealthy part of the city. The buildings are much more modern and well-kept. We are now passing museums. We just heard a loud strange amplified voice outside the bus, followed by a loud cat meow. Our translator (who looks exactly like Mechelle Hawk) told us that on some of the cars, for the horn you can record your voice. That was a car, and the horn said, “Hey, get out of the way!” and the cat meowed! Funny. We find that the people love to laugh, love to smile. We noticed yesterday that even the poor people, or the people who don’t have much, don’t seem angry or resentful toward people who have more. They are all relaxed and pleasant.

We are now inside a building at the university. Our students are all seated in and among the Brazilian students. It is a classroom, lecture hall, with tiered seating. A piano at one end of the floor level. While everyone is sitting and chatting, waiting for this to begin, there is a little quartet practicing at the piano. Students are playing classical guitar and ukulele, and faculty are playing a flute and a 7-string guitar. This is going to be a clinic presentation for us of Brazilian music at the university. Their conductor is talking to us through a translator. As has been very consistent, the conductor started right out talking about Brazilian history, the importance of their music in their history, and the importance of how their history drives what they do. They preserve music as their heritage. They work to preserve and respect and improve their ability to perform the music. Because their enthnic culture changes with people from different countries coming here to live, they don’t discriminate with their music. They learn about musical influences from others, and allow it to affect their music. This is how they allow new history to occur in their music now. They’re saying something about a controversy over what in music brings about the melancholy of crying. I think they’re saying that they are studying how and why music affects people emotionally. The conception of aturo? Aturo, auturo? This may be the study, or it may be the name of this 4 piece group. Now they’re describing the form of the music and how it will be performed by this group. Talking about other styles of Brazilian music, samba is a type of rhythm that communicates, mashishi is a style with a dance that is sensual. Sensual in a way comparable to the tango. He called it a Brazilian Tango. Now during the lecture he is using cd recordings to give examples of the music he is talking about. He started a mashishi, an example of a style that is no longer played, and no surprise, several people standing began dancing in place. Then he played a samba that was recorded in the 1960’s, followed by one from 1904. He is demonstrating how they preserve the musical heritage and origins, but allow music to evolve with time and new influences. Now he’s playing a very old recording of music featuring a flute accompanied by piano. At the beginning was a voice introducing the music. The voice sounded a little funny, and the Brazilian students started looking at each other and smiling and making funny faces, just like you guys would do. This is the first time, in 1916, that someone identified this music as the form called Aturo. I think this is the form that had been lost, but was rediscovered. It is very defined by the instrumentation I described above.

I was taken out of the clinic to go to the room where the Brazilian drumming clinic was being held. They were in a small ensemble room, surrounded by practice rooms, percussion storage, etc. Their percussion professor was in the middle and our 4 percussionists, along with 4 or 5 of their percussionists, were playing together. This groove went on for a very long time. It kept changing because he would go to someone and show them a rhythm to play, and then let it groove for a bit, and then give someone else a new rhythm, wait a bit, and then give someone a new instrument and show them how to play it, or have two players trade instruments. It was a very happy setting between all of the drummers, making music with each other. We have photos and video of this session.

It is early afternoon. We have been brought to a very large, very wonderful rehearsal room. It has excellent acoustic treatment, a ceiling at about 25 feet, and a balcony gallery. This rehearsal space is the National Municipal Symphony Orchestra. Today we are joined by a Brazilian youth orchestra. First we played a performance of about five pieces. The audience applauded each piece enthusiastically. They appear to be excited about the level of performance. After switching places, their orchestra was joined by our brass section. They have 5 string basses, 5 cellos, 8 violas, 16 violins, 4 flutes, 2 oboes, 1 english horn, 4 bassoons, 3 clarinets (?) and a bass clarinet. The first piece is called Sensameya, and is played by the WIU band, and this orchestra knows the piece. Dr. Fansler is conducting. The orchestra is fantastic! These are very accomplished young musicians. They look like they may be as young as high school, and as old as about 25. Great players. There is an immense mutual appreciation between these two groups, because they all know how much work and dedication to music it takes to achieve this level. I haven’t told you about the recording session last night, but I have been trying to keep up with today. At some point I’ll sit down to tell that story. It’s a WONDERFUL story. For now, I’m going to try to pick up a wi fi signal and get this up. More later. S



  1. between the rad car horns and the drumming clinic it sounds like a great time. all of you guys sitting with the other band reminds me of the time we went to the texas university and listened to their band.

  2. That drum session must have been cool. That’s awesome that the car horns could be customized. Oh, how awesome that is. Maybe they have Hella supertones? lower it.

  3. If i could personalize my car horn, i would probably make it like an elephant sound, or maybe a monkey, or both! Thatd be sweet!

  4. I found it extremely interesting that the style called, “mashishi” is no longer played. It seems that preservation of and musical style would require its continuance.

  5. i like the cars there. i wonder how long the recording can be. you could just keep recording different messages and have a sort of conversation with the other people out on the street

  6. sounds fun to be there. You guys are famous there as well. its good to see that music is a big part of their culture. bring back a copy of the recording.

  7. Okay, I love the idea of horns that talk to traffic. It’s interesting that they open all their musical discussions with history. If we did that here, people would probably get impatient and either throw garbage or leave.

  8. Pretty neat how much they care about music culture over there. It must have been somewhat difficult to be able to play with Brazilian musicians when you didn’t share a common language. Talking through a translator seems like it would be a bit cumbersome. It’s also kinda cool how their practices sound like they are a bit more free-form than ours, they don’t just play music from the page all the time.

  9. thats vvery cool how much the appreciate music over there. that is also awesome that you are already famous down there. the drumming clinics sound like they would be very neat to see.

    I have heard of Brazilian symphony orchestras on Ovation Channel, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and they are the best I’ve ever heard! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be playing with those musicians! Plus, it was really cool hearing about the percussion intermingling and playing. Music knows no bounds. Extra cliche, jah…me thinks so. I was laughing so hard at that car horn in the street, ’cause in a recent episode SNL, they did a skit with car horns with people’s actual voices on them! Hilarious. Talvez isso aturo "voce fala foi realmente Arturo Sandoval……

  11. I found it interesting that music is such a big part of there culture, thats neat! And it is neat to hear how they dont discriminate against other music since it is a country with all types of people. I would love to hear the horns on the car….they record their voices, crazy!!

  12. I think that it is interesting that they laugh or smile at the same things that we(Geneseo High School students) would. The music so much a part of the culture. For them music is like our sports.

  13. wow. I wish I could see all of that for myself. Seeing all of this is assuredly going to be a life changing experience for all of you

  14. I love how music is such a part of their culture and that they use it to preserve history and such. I know we have some music like that here,(ie. spirituals and such) but I wish that we had more music like that. I also like how no matter where you’re at, when something weird (such as that funny sounding voice) teenagers will react in the same way. Very interesting. :]

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