Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brazilian music in France

Brazilian music, one of the greatest music of the world, has always been very popular in France.


In this article, I will introduce you some covers of Brazilian songs and rhythms by famous French artists. Some of them are classics in France, but few people know they are actually covers of brazilian songs! To write this article I used mainly a very interesting article, Ariane Witowsky, De la Matchiche à la lambada, présence de la musique populaire brésilienne en France, Cahiers du Brésil Contemporain, 1990, n°12

One of the first Brazilian style to be famous in France is the maxixe. It's a mix between tango, habanera, polka and afro-portuguese rhythms. Felix Mayol sings this new style emphasizing on its exotism and the dance and mixing it with other exotic musics which are not related to Brazil and even not a really maxixe song but a spanish paso-doble!

Felix Mayol - Matchiche (1905)



During the 1930's, choro became popular after the venue of Pixinguinha and his Batutas in Paris. Django Reinhardt played Carinhoso, the most famous song of Pixinguinha and an anthem of Brazilian music. Ray Ventura et ses Collégiens played also played the choros Apanhei-te Cavaquinho (Ernesto Nazareth) and Tico-Tico no fubá (Zequinha de Abreu) which is still widely played in French metro today, mostly but Estearn-europe accordeonists!

Then, some carnaval songs became popular often sung by singer who were seen as exotics. The famous Maurice Chevalier played the marchinha Mamãe eu quero mamar, translated as La Choupetta. Josephine Baker sung also many carnaval songs.

Carmen Miranda - Mamãe eu quero mamar


Maurice Chevalier - La Choupetta

In 1942,  the early samba genius, Ataulfo Alves and Marió Lago released the samba Ai que saudades da Amélia,. Jean Sablon, the most important  sung it as Amalia.


One of the most successful cover of Brazilian song is undoubtly Si tu vas à Rio, released by Dario Moreno and Les Compagnons de la chanson. It is a  very light and a bit annoying song, whereas the original is a deep and moving funeral tribute by Carvalinho and José Monteiro to Zaquia Jorge, a singer who died drown.




Dario Moreno - Si tu vas à Rio.



Django Reinhardt, the genius of gypsy swing gave a perfect interpretation of Arry Barroso's Aquarela do Brasil. Don't need to post the original, you know it!




At that time, in Brazil, samba-cançao, a slower, more lyrics driven samba played mostly by white middle class musicians and not by poor Blacks, were very popular in Brazil. A music actually quite close to French chanson.

Jean Sablon, sung some of Dorival Caymmi songs, one of the greatest samba composer, famous for his songs about his native Bahia. Peguei um Ita no Norte became Qui vivra verra, and Não tem solução became La Solution.

 Jean Sablon- la solution




In 1959, French director Marcel Camus released the Movie Orfeu Negro, adaptation of a Brazilian play written by Vinicius de Morais and with some music by Tom Jobim. It would became a huge hit (Palme d'or in Cannes festival) and introduced Jobim and Vinicius to the world. It is, with the released of Chega de Saudade by Joao Gilberto, the birth of Bossa nova. French people became crazy of the rhytms and harmony of bossa nova and then "musica popular brasileira".

Claude Nougarro did very good covers, and changed the lyrics.

Baden Powell - Berimbau




 Claude Nougarro - Bidonville (slum)



Maybe the greatest composition of Tom Jobim, sung with Elis Regina, one of the greatest  female singer of Brazil, here covered in French by Georges Moustaki

Tom Jobim & Elis Regina - Aguas de Março


Georges Moustaki - Les eaux de Mars



A sweet song, composed by the lyricist of bossa nova, Vinicius de Moraes, music by a great guitarist of bossa nova, Toquinho.

Vinicius de Moraes, María Creuza y Toquinho- Você abusou


Michel Fugain - Fais comme l'oiseau (1972)


More to come!

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