it was the best of times, it was the saddest of times
August 23, 2006 1:06 PM   Subscribe

brazilian (or portguese) music question: i'm looking for a very particular sound... i'll explain inside..

lots of good questions about brazilian music abounds on this here site, but i want something more specific. i am into sad, lament-like music that i've heard somewhere characterized as "mornas"?? for instance, the "sadder" cesaria evora songs... and most of the songs on this excellent bethania album (Brasileirinho) {track 1 is a perfect example}.. So really, i'm looking for slower, "blues like" but not cheesy, gritty and minor-key portguese language music. Any takers?
posted by yonation to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
[I love questions I can answer and learn something...]

The Wikipedia article on mornas (yes you got the word right) gives some artist names and related genres to check out. Combined with Amazon's people who buy... you could go far.

Of course the first response to sad Portuguese music is fado. I don't really know if that fits in your "not" categories, but I don't think it does. There was an excellent post on fado here, and a later post on a group called A Naifa that you will almost certainly want to check out (if you're having trouble finding samples online, poke me). Some artists to try would be Cristina Branco, Mafalda Amauth, and the classic Amalia Rodrigues.

And this is getting further away, perhaps, but you might check out some of the classical forró artists. Forró's often faster, but definitely has the blues themes and is not in a minor key. The classic album would be Music for Maids and Taxi-drivers, but there's another one I can't find at the moment which is something like Sounds of Brazil, volume 2.
posted by whatzit at 1:40 PM on August 23, 2006

Brazil Classics, Vol. 3: Forró
posted by billtron at 1:52 PM on August 23, 2006

Thanks.. the more I think about, it's probably too fast for yonation, but it may be worth a listen since it is a genre that lacks... consistency.
posted by whatzit at 1:55 PM on August 23, 2006

whatzit... your answer gave me a lot of channels to go through.. thanks! i definitely am familiar with (and like) forro, but wanted something more minor-key in this instance.. any other suggestions, hive mind?
posted by yonation at 2:12 PM on August 23, 2006

Hope it helps some.
Can I ask you, then, for more forró, while we're on the subject? I like the newer sounds a lot better than the old ones - favorites being Aviões do Forró and Forró Mala Mansa more than, say, Caviar com Rapadura or Garotas de Ouro - but am at a loss in trying to find more like them...
posted by whatzit at 2:27 PM on August 23, 2006

Aw man, and that would be Mafalda Arnauth. I can read, I promise...
posted by whatzit at 2:34 PM on August 23, 2006

You can hear samples from the Bethania album cited (and others, if you navigate the site) here:


I 'm not really into her style (so my opinion is more "outsider"), but I think you may like Gonzaguinha. A least it's the composer I can think of that better fits your criteria of slower and blues-like. Perhaps some of Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso (they are generally faster than the song you listed, but have some slower songs).

I have the impression that you may also like some older music (specially Samba-Canção), on the likes of Nelson Gonçalves, Ângela Maria and Dolores Duran. There's also Cauby Peixoto and Agnaldo Rayol on this category, but they're cheesier. You can listen to some of Agnaldo Rayol here (click Jukebox, then the icon similar to window restore).


If you mean Falamansa, the style I suppose you're into is called Forró Universitário. It's a more southeastern (Forró is a northeastern rhythm) variant, a bit more dancing-oriented (the name of the style is because it's appreciated more by college students, in university parties and such). Again, not my favourite style, but you can try Forróçacana, Rastapé (these two I'm listing more for the "Forró Universitário" label than for the sound, never actually listened to them). And actually, many of the successes of these bands are actually interpretations of older Luiz Gonzaga (father of Gonzaguinha above) songs, so you may try the original stuff.
posted by qvantamon at 11:20 PM on August 23, 2006

Also, if you want to hear some samples of all these artists I've listed (and surf through their list of related artists), this might be of help. Remember in Brazil first letter means first letter of first name when searching (search Chico Buarque under C). If you find something else in the style you're looking for, please post it, because with a few more different artists/songs I may be able to interpolate better and come up with better suggestions...
posted by qvantamon at 11:48 PM on August 23, 2006

Oh, and some of Gal Costa (some of her songs are faster, but some are in the same style as Bethania) and Nana Caymmi.

Also, If you're looking for a name for this style, I haven't heard of one. Maria Bethania is usually classified as MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira - Brazilian Popular Music), that, as the name suggests, is a very broad category including many very different styles.
posted by qvantamon at 12:19 AM on August 24, 2006

I think that a better place to look would be a couple classic samba artists: Cartola and Nelson Cavaquinho. Both of them have certain more uptempo songs where mournful lyrics contrast the mood of the music, but then they have other songs that come closer to a blues affect within a samba idiom. Both Cartola and Nelson have collections of their music that represent their output. I couldn't recommend them enough.

Many of these sorts of ballads are played peppered throughout the repertoire of the big names of MPB: Paulinho da Viola is an impeccable songwriter who deserves to be better known outside of Brazil; Chico Buarque; Gal Costa's 1971 acoustic record comes to mind.

Choro or chorinho is generally an instrumental style, but vocals are sometimes included. I think that those cases -- sung choro -- come closest to what yonation is looking for. I'll think of more specifics and write again.

Also, I'd like to respectfully disagree with the recommendation of Falamansa. What they play is mostly xote, a bouncy, mid-tempo rhythm under the umbrella of rhythms that make up forró. It's not particularly mournful.
posted by umbú at 12:08 PM on August 24, 2006

I'd also like to add that something that complicates the question of searching for mournful Brazilian music is that much Brazilian popular music with mournful themes is delivered with a smile. Like the idea of samba dor-de-cotovelo, which literally means "elbow pain" samba, consisting of an upbeat, seemingly celebratory music accompanied by the bitter, heartbroken lyrics of a jilted lover. There is a tension in much of the best samba in this way, where without knowing the lyrics, one can think that a song is happy when actually it is much more bittersweet.

Speaking very generally, and I'm hesitant to push the comparison too far, but there is something of an inverse relationship in tone between blues, where the dominant mood is sorrowful, but often the lyrics often have touches of playful but bitterly ironic humor, and samba, where the music implies celebration, but the lyrics are often somber and/or resigned.
posted by umbú at 12:21 PM on August 24, 2006

qvantamon: Actually, I did mean Mala Mansa, but thanks for the recommendation on Falamansa. It satisfies a different but related forró itch...

umbú: the Falamansa diversion was my fault, it wasn't a direct response to yonation. I find the blues-samba comparison in your last post really interesting - it'd be intriguing to have someone Qualified put some thought into it...
posted by whatzit at 1:13 AM on August 25, 2006

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