Suzel Ana Reily

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online June 2011 | | DOI:

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  • Applied Music
  • Ethnomusicology
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  • Music Education and Pedagogy


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Brazil is commonly represented as a land of music. Indeed, the soundscapes of this vast country are rich and enticing, highlighting, among other things, the diversity in the nation’s physical geographies, in the distinct historical trajectories of each region, in its complex ethnic makeup, and in the contrasts in the distribution of wealth and resources across the population. While academic debate surrounding Brazilian music is certainly lively, the spectrum commonly covered within this monumental musical universe hardly does justice to its research potential. The city of Rio de Janeiro and northeastern Brazil have attracted far greater academic attention than other parts of the country, and this has led to the establishment of a distinction between “Brazilian” music, on the one hand, and “regional” genres and styles, on the other. Studies of music among native Brazilians, however, have tended to follow a distinct research trajectory based fundamentally within an anthropological tradition. Much Brazilian music research has been conducted by Brazilians, whose main output is in Portuguese. The inward-looking orientation of Brazilian scholarship is linked to a sincere commitment to the nation: in a context marked by severe social and economic problems, research has come to be conceived as a search for ways of contributing to the solution of the nation’s predicament. This has led to a research style that shows a greater preoccupation with ethnographic detail than with contemporary theoretical debate. In contrast, the work conducted by foreign scholars, primarily North Americans and Europeans, whose training has typically emphasized generalizing theory as the aim of research, has tended to approach Brazilian music as a source for “case studies.” Nonetheless, a number of common themes emerge from the literature, including: issues linked to the constitution of “authentic” Brazilian music and nation-building; the role of music in the demarcation of class and racial boundaries as well as in the mediation of class and race relations; the centrality of music in religious domains; the role of music and dance in carnival and other forms of collective sociability; the impact of globalization on Brazilian musics, among others.

Article.  12058 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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