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Singing the spaces, building the song

Zaha Hadid :: JS Bach Chamber Music Hall, Manchester, UK :: photo© Luke Hayes














Philosophers, historians and theorists have been long trying to establish a connection between music and architecture. Two thousand five hundred years ago, Pythagoras had already conceptualized the mathematical harmony as a cornerstone to explain the entire creation, the existence and operation of the universe. According to the Greek philosopher, the ‘pleasant relation of proportions’ would make all things vibrate in a great universal harmony, just like the notes in a song.


Some of these relationships of proportions established by Pythagoras came to define canonical spatial relations of classical architecture, as well as the predominant musical ‘patterns’ until the Modern Age. In architecture and western music, the beauty of a work was guided by the Pythagorean concept of harmony among its elements for centuries.


This understanding began to be questioned in music, with the emergence of the tonal system, which enabled the exploration of other relations of proportion and intervals, once considered inharmonious and therefore incorrect. Music went from tonality to atonality, until its dissolution and dodecaphony, with creators such as Schoenberg and John Cage. In parallel, social and political changes resulting from the rise of the bourgeoisie in Europe sparked the desire to set the formal rules of classicism free and the search for individual expression and innovation, allowing the emergence of a new architecture – which, by breaking the commitment to symmetry and the relations of proportions previously defined as pleasant (correct), culminated, centuries later, in experiences such as those of Frank Gehry or Daniel Liebeskind. Today, the notion of beauty – whether in music or architecture – is marked by new and diverse concepts.


Each in its own way, music and architecture are aesthetic compositions resulting from the association of different elements, organized and governed by certain principles. Height, length, proportion, alternation, repetition, arrangement, rhythm, intensity, density, texture, contrast, harmony, balance, tension… these are all elements of both musical and architectural creations. The quality of the work as well as its beauty stem from the knowledge, competence and sensitivity of its author in connecting these elements.


If, throughout history, architecture and music reveal parallel paths (and not just with regard to the evolution of knowledge, but also in their relationship with society), they currently seem to be following divergent paths: whereas the quality in a work of architecture is being increasingly perceived and required socially, one does not seem to care that our musical production is increasingly devoid of attributes. Today, we pursue and exalt the quality and beauty of homes, buildings, theaters and arenas, but to discuss the quality and the beauty of the music performed in these spaces is off the agenda.


At some point, our society has ceased to understand music as an aesthetic composition, and simply relegated it to the territory of entertainment. It’s a shame. By dispensing with the quality and beauty in our music production, we are increasingly missing the opportunity to expand our pleasures and the meaning of our existence.

Villa-Lobos Superstar

PauBrasil :: Villa-Lobos Superstar











To my friends Marcos and Lucia


Heitor Villa-Lobos, as every great creator, began his work under the influence of the great masters of the style in his time (such as Wagner and Puccini), and then separated from the academic work and created his own innovative and very unique language.


By incorporating elements of folklore, popular music and the indigenous culture into instrumental music (solo, chamber and symphonic), Villa-Lobos embraced the most relevant issues of modernism, giving a new dimension to the so-called nationalist music, and putting Brazilian music in the world scene. And throughout his history, the composer never followed a linear path – he explored many stylistic possibilities and experimented with the most unusual combinations of instruments, always freely and in an evolving manner.


The Pau Brasil band, today made up of some of the greatest Brazilian musicians (Rodolfo Stroeter, Paulo Bellinati, Nelson Ayres, Ricardo Mosca and Teco Cardoso), has always aimed to find new ways to Brazilian instrumental music. Since it was created in 1979, the reinterpretation of genres and styles, and the combination of the traditional and the contemporary to create a “viscerally Brazilian” repertoire form an intrinsic part of its identity – which, along with its technical excellence, elegant performance and good taste in the definition of the repertoire – made this band a benchmark in Brazilian instrumental music, with international recognition.


Earlier this year, Pau Brasil released the outstanding CD ‘Villa-Lobos Superstar’ (in partnership with the string quartet Ensemble SP, and with the participation of Renato Braz in the vocals). With magnificent arrangements by Ayres and Bellinati, the CD brings a sensitive reinterpretation of works like the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 4 (Prelude and Tune) and No. 5 (full), in addition to several other songs, all of which in beautiful and moving interpretations. And the surprising inclusion of a string quartet in a traditional jazz band, combined with the inclusion of points of light created by the voice of Renato Braz, give this CD a Villa-Lobos-like language: innovative and unique.


By reinterpreting Villa-Lobos with such ability, Pau Brasil not only demonstrates knowledge of the composer’s work, but mainly carries it out as it states appreciation for history, reveals talent for innovation and reiterates its willingness to always evolve.

To learn more: http://www.grupopaubrasil.com.br

Oubliez tous vos clichés














A sweet and husky voice sings with the enthusiasm and simplicity of a girl, and yet with the attitude and competence of a grown-up.


The innovative singing of Isabelle Geoffroy – or Zaz, as she is known – is a musical translation of the contemporary world, where borders between East and West, tradition and innovation, acoustic and electronic are no longer perceived – or make any sense. With simplicity, elegance and a unique identity, Zaz carries the most diverse influences in her music: from jazz to blues, from traditional French music to Moorish chants, from African sounds to Latin beats. The result is stunning: innovative music, full of personality, emotion and joy.


Her first album, released in early 2010, was a best-seller for months in Europe, and placed Zaz among the greatest new artists of contemporary French music. Her most successful song, ‘Je veux’ (‘I want’), brings the ecstasy and freshness of youth, in its ode to freedom and critique of the standards established by the consumer society. Romanticism and contradictions aside, it is a great pleasure to listen to a powerful and humorous voice like Zaz’s singing ‘oubliez tous vos clichés‘ amidst a commonplace music scene.


The same CD features a gorgeous cover of ‘Dans ma rue’ (‘In my street’), originally recorded by the greatest husky voice of French music, Edith Piaf. And, if in the voice of Piaf this song sounded beautifully nocturne and melancholic, in the voice of Zaz it acquires a different form of beauty – this time solar and vibrant.


C’est ça: oubliez les cliches – et vivre la différence.


leia mais

Listening to one’s own voice

Bobby McFerrin















“Is this what you want to do? Is this how you picture exploring music?” These were the questions Bobby McFerrin says he asked himself when still very young and thrilled by listening to Keith Jarrett’s piano performance. The vulnerability of a person alone on a stage had always fascinated him, and made him wonder if he could, as Jarrett, capture the essence of a song, its harmonies, and capture his own essence – and only then, sing the same way Jarret played the piano: with his heart and in his own unique and personal way.


He spent almost three years alone, singing, writing, listening and getting acquainted with his own voice. During the first two years Bobby did not listen to other singers – he was afraid of being influenced by some other singing style, convinced that this would make him turn away from his own style. He needed to discover himself, learn and take ownership for the sound he created, get to know and explore the possibilities of his own voice.


His ability to improvise was also a challenge to overcome. He wanted to discover the pleasure of moving without knowing exactly where to go… of letting himself go as a child does, without being guided by theoretical knowledge. He then spent many other years working out his own way to improvise – in his words, overcoming the fear of improvisation, the fear of taking risks, of looking like a fool and not having enough ideas.


Today, over 30 years later, Bobby McFerrin is known worldwide as one of the greatest talents of contemporary music. In addition to the musical genius in every note his voice sings and every gesture he makes, rare plainness and elegance become evident from the perfect harmony of what he does, what he looks like and who he really is.


Bobby McFerrin’s truth can also serve as an allegory for each of us. After all, there is nothing more beautiful, elegant and enjoyable than being and acknowledging oneself as unique, listening to one’s own voice, expressing one’s essence, not fearing the unknown and experiencing the joy of keep moving. And that’s what really matters.


To learn more: http://bobbymcferrin.com/
To listen to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktotbE4rN2g (interview)

The planet blue on the sun road







This is the title of an acoustic show that Milton Nascimento performed at the Cultura Astistica Theater, in São Paulo in October 1991. Only three performances resulted in a CD under the same name, unfortunately too little known by the public and, today, off the shelves in Brazil (it can be found at amazon.com).


Milton always favored the interpretation of his own songs. Here, in contrast, he performs as an interpreter, singing and playing (guitar, piano and accordion) songs of other composers – only four out of the 11 songs in the CD were written by him. And in this surprise lies a huge enchantment.


Milton’s singing transcends all expectations. A musician with unique sensitivity and a clear voice, his interpretations are both passionate and exciting. With a firm identity on the essence of each song, he, through the filter of his emotion, reveals such essence in a surprising and overwhelming way. And in his voice, we listen to once familiar songs as if they were new songs.


Milton sings not only his voice – above all, he sings his soul. And every word sung by this soul touches our souls with rare delicacy. Milton has the exact measure of the pleasure every song can and must provide to people.


For a taste of it: Hello Goodbye (Lennon & McCartney)









‘A cidade enfeitiçada’ (‘The bewitched city’) was the first song by Paulo Gusmao I ever heard. And such was my delight – by the title (so inspiring!), the composition and his arrangement – that I decided to immediately search information on this composer I didn’t know.


The song title baptizes the CD – and no less inspiring are the titles of other songs in it: ‘Flor de outono’ (‘Autumn Flower’), ‘O brilho do vagalume’ (‘The firefly’s glow‘), ‘Sua silhueta sutil’ (‘Its subtle silhouette’)… not to mention ‘Romance em Vila Humaitá’ (‘Romance in Vila Humaitá’), gently broken into three acts.


The album’s 15 songs captivate, enchant and thrill. Melodies and harmonies reach our ears lightly and gently, seeming to float. Arrangements establish subtle dialogues among the accordion, the flute, the guitar and other instruments, creating an atmosphere that exudes grace and elegance. You can’t get enough of it.


‘A cidade enfeitiçada’ (‘The bewitched city’) is indeed bewitching. High quality Brazilian and contemporary instrumental music, touching the ear with sweetness, the soul with beauty, and fills us with pleasure.


Enjoy it at www.paulogusmao.com.br.