:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


Early music for year’s end

Banza recovers tunes of the 17th century.

Daniella Thompson

31 December 2004

Grupo Banza

Bahia-born Gregório de Mattos e Guerra (1636–1696) was the most important Brazilian poet of the Baroque period. Often compared to François Villon on account of his satirical and erotic poems, he was known as “Boca do Inferno”—a highy damning moniker at a time when the Catholic Church held sway over public and private life.

In his poetry, Mattos mentioned various rhythms and dances—both Portuguese and Afro-Brazilian—that were in vogue during the 17th century, including Cubanco, Gandu, Cãozinho, Arromba, Cumbé, and Sarambeque. Various musical instruments of the period also made an appearance in his verse. These references were noted by the musician and scholar Rogério Budasz, who discovered in Portugal an immense, virtually unknown repertoire for viola dating from the late 17th and early 18th centuries and remarked its direct connection with the musical genres mentioned by the poet. Said Budasz in an interview:

While Mattos describes the choreography of the dance, or where, when, and how a certain tune was played, the viola scores bring us the music—perhaps the very same, or a variant—that would have been played on those occasions.

This discovery was the topic of Budasz’s PhD work at USC and later served as the basis for a series of concerts and the CD Música no Tempo de Gregório de Mattos by the Curitiban early-music ensemble Banza.* Formed in 2003, the group explores the connections between Brazilian music of the colonial period and the folkloric traditions in Brazil, the Iberian peninsula, and Latin America. Another project of the group entails research into the salon music of coastal Paraná in the 18th and 19th centuries.

For Música no Tempo de Gregório de Mattos, Banza adapted the viola arrangements, adding typical instruments played in Bahia during the 17th century, such as machete, bandurra, tiorba, violin, various flutes, pandeiro, and Afro-Brazilian instruments like berimbau, djembe, balafon, and marimbula.

Underwritten by Petrobras, the project offers the CD and an anthology of musical scores free of charge to libraries, cultural institutions, universities, and researchers in Brazil, Portugal, Spain, USA, and the Mercosul countries.

This delightful music, expertly played, is my particular choice for celebrating the holiday season. Listen to full-track mp3s of “Cãozinho,” “Sarambeque,” and “Cubanco” courtesy of Petrobras.

* Banza, an 18th-century term, refers to an African musical instrument with four plucked strings; (pej.) a musical group that plays out of tune; Portuguese guitar; and (19th & 20th centuries) viola or guitar. Its origin is the Kimbundu word mbanza, meaning guitar.

Banza: Música no Tempo de Gregório de Mattos:
Música luso e afro-brasileira na Bahia dos séculos XVII e XVIII

(Independent; 2004) 48:41 min.

01. Cumbé oitavo tom
02. Marinícolas/Marisapoles quarto tom
03. Fantasia quarto tom italiana
04. Pavana primeiro tom; Pavana primeiro tom italiana
05. Gagliarda
06. Foi-se Brás da sua Aldeia
07. Tarantela
08. Arromba quarto tom
09. Gandum sétimo tom
10. Cãozinho de Sofala
11. Sarambeque segundo tom
12. Paracumbe sétimo tom
13. Cubanco sétimo tom
14. Ay Verdades que en Amor
15. Saltarello
16. Rojão segundo tom; Rojão primeiro tom
17. Vacas primeiro tom
18. Ay de Ti Pobre Cuidado
19. Vilão sétimo tom
20. Canário

Grupo Banza
Ademir Maurício, canto
Ana Paula Peters, traverso & flauta-doce
Atli Ellendersen, violino barroco
Orlando Fraga, viola de mão
Paulo Demarchi, percussão
Roger Burmester, tiorba & bandurra
Rogério Budasz, viola de mão


Copyright © 2004–2008 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.