Salvador da Bahia, Brazil Central
The Deep Guide to Brazil's Essentiality

Tour Guides

by writer Ben Paris
The Good, the Bad, & the Beautiful


  • A Deeper Explanation
  • This is for Journalists

Me, left, with João do Boi (John of the Ox), one of the greats for whom this project was originally conceived.
Bahia's nacreous rhythms and melodies shift and shimmer like a thundering aurora borealis, but they're seldom heard beyond native ground. There's been no way to find the people who make them.

So I built a way: You can follow connections I've made to prodigously talented Brazilian (and otherwise) musicians. I can follow connections you've made to your musical heroes (are you a musical hero?).

Thus the whole world is able to participate in turning the whole world onto music-making and music-loving people across the planet. A goldmine of information not otherwise available is opened up.

Why didn't anybody else see this? I'm in a unique place. I'm the only American in Brazil with a record shop (the site you're on is mine as well). I live with the fact that musical brilliance geysers up in the most seemingly unlikely places. And that most of this brilliance is essentially cut off from the world-at-large.

But that's changing. My codex page is here. The MusiCodex in general is here. Where are you?

Our MusiCodex Mission: To make the unknown genius in the shack in Brazil -- or anybody anywhere else -- as easy to be found as Lady Gaga.

How? Follow pathways pointed out by people whose opinion you deem worth listening to, based on what's in their player(s) or on their page.

The Problem: Sometimes it seems that earth's golden age of great music is over and that something has changed, that human beings aren't producing much of it anymore, that corporations have taken over and homogenized the vital spark out of things. The irony is that the world's music is as fabulous and varied as ever, if not more so. But if it's not in the big media, and it's not local to us, then we're probably not going to know it exists. Many extremely well-known musicians are completely off the radars of countless people.

The Solution: Create a network, letting anybody who wishes to participate have a page, a crossroad, a nexus. This nexus has a music player, and participants can either put up their own music, or they can grab music from other players and order it however they want (writer/journalist Jay Mazza up in New Orleans is a good example of this!).

Anybody can create a pathway to anybody. If you are on the page of somebody whose opinion you respect (based on the music in their player and/or whatever they have to say) you can see who that person has created pathways to, and go forward if you want. And on and on, backwards via inbound pathways as well...

• Each page owner, should they wish, can link back to their own site, to their own Facebook and Twitter pages, to the iTunes and Amazon and CD Baby and Bandcamp pages selling their mp3s and cds.

• When music is put up, and commentary and photos and video clips, they can be blasted out to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., making the MusiCodex a Musical Grand Central Station.

Well What About Facebook, Myspace, and Sites with Listening Recommendation Software? They're great at what they do, but what they do isn't what the MusiCodex does. Facebook doesn't allow one to proactively link to people one doesn't know. Myspace isn't vectored. Listening recommendation software can't step out of the paradigm set for it.

What Now? Have a look at the network, maybe pop out a player (the button is in the player's upper right-hand corner after the player has been opened) to listen while you move around Salvador Central/The MusiCodex. If you're a musician we hope to see you on the network, if not now then at some point in the future. If you're a music professional, or "just" a music-lover, likewise!

Bubber Miley

Dear Journalist Friend...


There exists no other site/network on this planet wherein anybody, including musicians, can do their part in pushing musicians and their music to the fore.

In an age where Bubber Miley's "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing" has become "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling", there is -- more than ever -- great music being played and sung's just a matter of getting to it.

People care about music, it's important to the human soul, and they want it from the heart.

Now they can all participate in everybody getting it, and that's news!


Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

An American in Brazil
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Filhos de Gandhy

Filhos de Gandhy is an entity devoted to peace, the creation of which was inspired by an act of violence on the Indian subcontinent and the manifestations of which, although rooted deeply in Africa, were born in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

And in common with one of the subcontinent's great religions, Filhos de Gandhy was born beneath a tree -- not a Banyan tree but a mango tree rather, growing on a steeply inclined street (Rua do Julião, now sometimes called Rua Campos Sales) running through one of Salvador's poorest neighborhoods.  The men who were gathered there -- stevedores, dockworkers -- had no idea they were making history; they were simply honoring it while trying to have some fun.  Carnival was about to begin and they were forming a bloco (carnival group) of their own.  One of the men beneath the mango tree...Durval Marques da Silva -- Vavá Madeira...suggested a name.  It was suitable to all, and the theme followed naturally.


A little more than a year earlier -- on the 30th of January, 1948 -- the great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi had been assassinated.  Vavá suggested that they honor this man who had fought so profoundly and achieved so much in a nation which -- like their own -- was racked by poverty and rife with social injustice, a man who wielded peace as a mighty instrument of change.  The others liked the idea, and thus the Filhos de Gandhy -- Sons of Gandhy -- were born.  Peace would be their instrument as well, played out in the rhythms of ijexá on atabaques and agogôs.

A Carnival bloco needs fantasias -- costumes -- and several of the men there under the tree had recently seen a film which made it to sleepy Salvador ten years after its 1939 release: Gunga Din, starring Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.  It was an easy choice; the fantasias would emulate the clothing of Rudyard Kipling's redoubtably intrepid waterboy...

Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you
By the livin' Gawd that made you
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

But there was a problem.  Shipping in the Port of Salvador had fallen off since the war and work was intermittent.  On top of that the Federal Government -- a dicatatorship -- had announced post-war cost cuts and the stevedores' income had taken a hit; money was tight.  To the rescue came the working girls of the area -- the ladies of Julião.  Not only did they include (some, not all of) these men among their patrons, but they also included them as their friends.  A number of the sheets utilized in the abadás (a name given to the flowing fantasias, based on the robes worn by the uprising slaves of Bahia's 1835 Malê Rebellion) worn that first year were provided on loan by these women, and when the men paraded, the women followed, food and refreshments in hand.  Like Dostoevsky's Sonya Marmeladova, benevolence and generosity were not precluded by their profession.

Why did the women follow the men, and not march together with them?  Nothing to do with social strictures.  The concern was for the most part with the inevitable fellow-travellers who would join in from the sidelines and march along uninvited.  The thought was that restricting the ranks of marchers to men -- men who weren't partaking of alcohol while parading -- would help to ensure the reign of peace in that small part of the world over which the Filhos de Gandhy had some personal control.  These were, of course, stevedores out for Carnival -- not saints playing harps in Heaven -- and drinking did happen on the sly.  But the governing spirit of the rule was observed, maintained, and preserved, and the passing of the Filhos de Gandhy during Carnival in Bahia has since become an iconic emblem of dignity and brotherhood.

The Filhos de Ghandy started out as a bloco.  They became an afoxé.  What's the difference?  A Carnival bloco is any group which marches together during Carnival.  An afoxé is a group which utilizes religious percussion and dancing in secular settings, the religion in this case being West African candomblé.  Carnival blocos of the time included wind instruments and the Filhos de Gandhi played percussion instruments exclusively.  Beyond this they sang to Ogum, Ologum-edé, Oxalá, Oxum, and Exu.  The government body having to do with Carnival said they were an afoxé.  The Filhos didn't argue the matter; they voted on it.  An afoxé in spirit, they became one on paper as well.

Years passed and the organization faltered.  There were financial problems and the group moved from one headquarters to another.  For all the axé (life force) they carried with them, no preordained upward trajectory seemed to leaven their path.  Things got so bad at one point that it looked like the organization would have to fold.  That it didn't was in no small measure due to the efforts of two amazing men.


The first was force-of-nature Camafeu de Oxossi, musical collaborator of the great Baden Powell, obá (minister) de Xangô (god of thunder and war), capoeirista-cum-restauranteur who wandered -- berimbau in hand -- the aisles of the Mercado Modelo playing the cantigas of capoeira.

When Camafeu de Oxossi died and was being interred to the accompaniment of Catholic prayer, a song in Yoruban was lifted to the skies by Luís da Muriçoca, and all present joined in.


To be continued...

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A San Francisco Native in Brazil
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in Salvador!

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Home - Salvador Central

Home: Salvador Central

A Tour Guide to
Salvador & Environs

A Tour Guide to Salvador

Salvador, the City

Salvador & Its Spirit

A Short History of
Salvador da Bahia

A Short History of Salvador da Bahia

Carnival in Salvador

Carnival in Salvador

World & Federation Cups
in Salvador

World Cup Salvador

Salvador's Old City: Pelourinho

Salvador's Old City

Salvador's Neighborhoods, Streets, Praças & Byways

Salvador's Neighborhoods

Blood, Sweat, & Prayers: Salvador Sites & History

Salvador Sites

Once Upon a Night in Brazil:
A Short History of
Brazilian Music

A History of Brazilian Music

Sweet Fields, Bitter Harvest: The Music of Bahia

Music of Bahia

LISTEN to Music from Bahia!
Hottest Rhythms, Coolest Tunes

About Us

About Us

The Sacred & the Profana: Festas


Food & Eating Out in Salvador

Food in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador

Salvador's Beach Scene

Salvador's Beaches

Islands in the Bay

Islands in the Bay

What's On in Salvador

What's On in Salvador

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Download GREAT
Brazilian Music

Download Great Brazilian Music

Ubiquitous Deities: Candomblé


Capoeira: Dance Like a Baryshnikov, Hit Like
a Kalashnikov


Salvador's Afoxés &
Blocos Afros

Salvador's Afoxe's & Blocos Afros

Percussion Classes in Salvador: Heaviest Hands

Percussion Classes in Salvador

Brazilian Music
Workshops & Tours

Brazilian Music Workshops

Group Lodging in Salvador Professional & Student

Group Lodging in Salvador

Learning Portuguese:
Lessons & Classes

Learning Portuguese

Money Matters

Money Matters

Buying Property in Salvador

Buying Property in Salvador

S.O.S. Brazil: Volunteer Work

Volunteer Work

How to Avoid Being
Robbed & Cheated

How to Avoid Being Robbed & Cheated

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

How to Get Around:
Buses, Taxis, & Cars

How to Get Around

Black Market: Bahian Bazaar

Black Market

Outside of Salvador

Outside of Salvador

Other Voices

Other Voices

Kindred Spirits &
Fellow Travellers

Kindred Spirits

Fiction from Bahia

Fiction from Bahia

Dental Help in Salvador

Dental Help in Salvador

Current Weather & the Forecast

Current Weather

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel!

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse!

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse

An English-Owned Hotel!

An English-Owned Hotel

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