:: The articles in this series were originally
:: published in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


The Boeuf chronicles, Pt. 20

The vulture ascends.

Daniella Thompson

26 January 2013

The educator Carlos Góes published this book of folk
quatrains in 1916

Darius Milhaud treated all popular music—whether a hit song, a jazz composition, or an instrumental dance tune—as “folklore.” The carnaval of Rio de Janeiro, which greeted the young composer upon his arrival in February 1917, was described in his autobiography as “my first contact with Brazilian folklore.”

The carnaval of 1917 was the one dominated by “Pelo Telefone,” which, wrote Milhaud, “exploded in every corner and haunted us during the entire winter.” That Milhaud paid attention to carnaval songs and popular hits in general is clear by the number of them that made their way into Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

The following are hit tunes of the 1910s quoted in Le Boeuf, listed here according to the rank they reached in their respective years.

01. “Caboca di Caxangá” rec. by Patrício Teixeira

11. “São Paulo Futuro” rec. by Bahiano

01. “Apanhei-te Cavaquinho” rec. by Grupo O Passos no Choro

05. “São Paulo Futuro” rec. by Bahiano
11. “Flôr do Abacate” rec. by Chorosos do Abacate, Grupo Faceiro
16. “Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho” rec. by Grupo O Passos no Choro

07. “Maricota, Sai da Chuva” rec. by Grupo O Passos no Choro
08. “Urubú Subiu” rec. by Bahiano & Vicente Celestino
20. “Vióla Cantadêra” rec. by Grupo O Passos no Choro

10. “Urubú Subiu” rec. by Bahiano & Vicente Celestino

In the case of most tunes he quoted, Milhaud purchased the published music scores. However, “Urubú Subiu” may not have been published at all—Milhaud may have relied on the recording, which was released in January 1917 for the carnaval of that year. It was the absence of a score that delayed identification of this tune until recently. It was finally identified by Luciano Pereira in his ethnomusicology doctoral thesis, Itinéraire du samba en France (Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, 2012, p.166), in which he writes:

[Ce morceau] apparaît faisant un contrepoint avec la partie A du thème 04, A mulher do bode. Ce contrepoint se trouve aux mesures 584 à 611. Il s’agit d’un samba popularisé au carnaval de 1917 par la voix de Vicente Celestino.

[This piece] appears in counterpoint with section A of theme 4, “A Mulher do Bode.” This counterpoint is found in measures 584 to 611. It is a samba popularized in the 1917 carnaval through the voice of Vicente Celestino.

If any tune quoted by Milhaud may be said to be a product of true folklore, “Urubú Subiu” comes closest to claiming that distinction. Its lyrics consist of popular quatrains collected by Carlos Góes and published in 1916 in Mil Quadras Populares Brasileiras (Contribuição ao Folk-Lore). Nevertheless, “Urubú Subiu” is a pastiche—the quatrains selected for this song represent the folklore of four far-flung Brazilian states (Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Ceará, and Piauí, each with its distinct culture) and would not have been found united under natural circumstances.

Although other folklore collections existed (the Annuário de Minas Geraes of 1907 includes one of the quatrains that found their way into “Urubú Subiu”), it is clear that the source for all but the song’s final quatrain is Mil Quadras Populares Brasileiras, both because the latter was published in the year the song was recorded, and because the quatrains in “Urubú Subiu” follow the same order in which they appear in Góes’s book.

Vicente Celestino was 22 when he recorded “Urubú Subiu”

Tune No. 20: “Urubú Subiu” (1916)

Section A of “Urubú Subiu” may be heard at 10:36 min. into Louis de Froment’s recording of Le Boeuf sur le Toit.

“Urubú Subiu” is played in counterpoint not only with section A of “A Mulher do Bode” but also with section A of “Vamo Maruca, Vamo.” Separated from its companions, it sounds like this:

The only known recording, made in late 1916, paired Casa Edison’s premier singer, Bahiano, with the newcomer Vicente Celestino, who had just had a huge hit with his first record, “Flor do Mal.” Fundação Joaquim Nabuco’s database lists the recording with no release date.

Título: Urubú Subiu
Gênero: Desafio Sertanejo
Intérprete: Bahiano, Vicente Celestino e Coro
Gravadora: Odeon
Número: 121318

On the reverse side of “Urubú Subiu,” Vicente Celestino recorded “O Seresteiro.” (courtesy of Manoel Aranha Corrêa do Lago)

Here is the recording of “Urubú Subiu,” sung by Bahiano and Celestino:

The desafio sertanejo description on the record label is a misnomer. Only two of the quatrains originate in the sertão, and none are improvised by the singers. The quatrains are color-coded below to indicate their origins: Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Ceará, and Piauí.

Urubú Subiu
(anonymous, 1916)

Compadre, você me diga,
Me diga só de um arranco:
Por que é que gallinha preta
Põe por força ovo branco?

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Caboclo, vancê não treite 
Sae p’ra fora e desembucha, 
Qu’eu gosto de vê o cabra
É na boca da garrucha.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Caboclo bão no riscado
Não há arreceia o destroço:
Eu sou um cabra sarado
Criado com chumbo grosso.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Eu não sou da terra não,  
Eu sou lá do Tararé
Só procuro um cabra bom
P’ra rufar commigo o pé.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Ha duas coisas no mundo
Que me faz admirar:
Trem de ferro andar no chão,
Telegramma andar no ar.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Ha duas coisas do mundo
Que dão confusão na gente:
E’padre ir para os infernos
E doutor ficar doente.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Pulseira de besta é peia,
Lençol de burro é cangalha,
Mulher de padre é visage,
Cabra safado é canáia.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Urubú quando infeliz 
Não ha pau que o agasaie:
Si senta no verde—secca, 
Si senta no secco—cae.

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

Eu plantei no meu quintal
Uma cabeça de urubú
[...] a velha careca
Toma de volta

Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu
Urubú comeu, urubú bebeu

= = =

I’m indebted to Manoel Aranha Corrêa do Lago and Carlos Sandroni for passing along Luciano Pereira’s identification of “Urubú Subiu” and to Alexandre Dias for his help in procuring the recording and the lyrics.



Copyright © 2013–2016 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.