João in Salvador
THE MATRIX

Social networks are about who you know. Our matrix -- inspired in and beginning with the primordial chuleiros of Bahia (Brazil's analogues to delta bluesmen) -- is about who you DON'T know (and if you would care to be a part of this matrix and wish to be discoverable thereby, about who around the world can by this means discover you).


Worldlines on mediapages can be followed forwards and backwards through people and what they create to other magnificent but perhaps completely unknown artists we'd never otherwise be able to find.


Salvador CentralSalvador Tour Guide
Experiences - Guides

We've worked here in Salvador with U.S. National Public Radio, the BBC (twice!), France Inter, Lonely Planet Magazine...and we'd love to show you around too! Much more information here!


Essential Salvador Bahia
Essential Salvador Bahia

Salvador Carnival
Carnival in Salvador

Salvador's Neighborhoods
Salvador Neighborhoods

Salvador's Pelourinho
Salvador's Pelourinho

Salvador Festas
Festas in Salvador

Salvador History
Salvador History

Salvador Cuisine
Salvador Cuisine

Salvador Candomblé
Candomblé in Salvador

Important Salvador Sites
Important Salvador Sites

Capoeira in Salvador
Capoeira in Salvador

Brazilian Music - Brief History
Brazilian Music - Brief History

Music of Bahia
Music of Bahia

Dancing Gods

  • Dancing Gods


    Did you know that Brazil has gods (football aside)? In the sense that the Greeks and the Romans did? The Greek and Roman gods were done in by Constantine (first blow) and Theodosius (final blow). The gods of Brazil were born in Africa and arrived in Brazil within the negreiros making the Middle Passage, a voyage which transported not only people, but a culture. There was a great attempt by the Brazilian poobahs to exterminate the gods of Africa in Brazil, but it didn't work.

    And as the Roman emperors moved to extinguish the very real belief in Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, Minerva and the rest, banning the ceremonies to these deities, the Brazilian "authorities" banned the ceremonies devoted to Oxalá, Oxossi, Iansã, Yemanjá and the rest. But like the ultimate futility of the communist stomping-on of Christianity in Russia, Poland, et al, the piety of the Brazilian ruling class was to no avail (can't you people ever mind your own business!???).

    Now, the Greeks and Romans had statues; magnificent, wondrously conceived, wrought and elaborated statues. The Africans had rhythms, and melodies...magnificent, wondrously conceived, wrought and elaborated rhythms, over which are floated (they aren't attached, per Western music) melodies ranging from inspired to sublime. Some of these rhythms (one in particular) are the basis of Brazilian popular music.

    So as marble adorns Rome, rhythm adorns Brazil...but to carry the analogy further, as the statues have with the passage of time become fewer and farther between, the modernization of Brazilian popular music has left the rhythms fewer and farther between (excepting those in Bahia's houses of candomblé, these houses multiplying greatly in number over the past few decades)...

    But this is Brazil, isn't it? With music everywhere?

    Paulinho da Viola
    Paulinho da Viola - Looks pretty cool to me!

    Yes, and yes, but. Samba and its vertentes are based in polyrhythms. And while one may say that Brazilian music was enriched by the confluence of African rhythm-and-melodies and European melodies-and-harmonies, the rhythmic component was, with the Americanization of the 1950s, and then under the effects of the British invasion of the '60s and the astounding market success of first-world music, impoverished. Speaking frankly, it was dumbed down. Detexturized. Anesthetized. Edge and angle taken out. Soothed and smoothed... Witness the birth of bossa nova and MPB (música popular brasileira)! Yes, there was genius there, but not in the strictly African-derived part of the music...that was old-fashioned, not hip.

    Thank god for unhip people like Paulinho da Viola! Paulinho came of age in the 60s, when Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil went hippie, they celebrating the we-can-do-anything culture with their invention of tropicália, one ear to the sidewalks of San Francisco and the intersection of Haight-Ashbury...

    Paulinho played samba then. He plays samba now. Music. Where somebody sings. And people play instruments. No BS. Paulinho's music was never modern, but it is timeless.

    The great Bobby Sanabria quoted the great Art Blakey as saying that a place where jazz is played is a holy place, Bobby following this up with (addressing his audience from the stage) "So thanks for coming to church!"

    In the spirit of Art Blakey, a place where samba is played is a holy place...and we ain't talkin' 'bout The Girl from Ipanema. Samba, with all the assaults upon its integrity, never left Brazil. To quote again, now the words of the great Nelson Sargento, it agonizes, but it doesn't die. It's even cool now.

    Samba is the local equivalent of those Roman statues.