The World

For today’s Global Hit, we’re featuring music from Brazil. Now, it’s not the kind of music that immediately comes to mind when you think of Brazil. The World’s William Troop begins by telling us about a man named Siba.

Siba — like many Brazilians — likes to go by just one name. He hails from the northeastern state of Pernambuco. The big city there is Recife — known for its carnival celebrations. Siba’s art isn’t carnival music. He calls it “street music, Pernambuco-style.”

SIBA: “It’s mainly percussion and horns with poetry. And its all about poetry, music and rhythms and dancing at the same time.”

Siba and his band — A Fuloresta — are part of a long musical tradition in Pernambuco. Siba says that tradition reflects Brazil’s version of the melting pot — part Portugal, part Africa, and part indigenous Brazil. The result is a kind of traditional street poetry — which Siba says is very much alive — thanks to musicians like himself.

SIBA: “The poetic style is traditional, the use of rhymes, the percussive rhythms are traditional. But it’s my compositions, my arrangements. And that’s not because its me. In my tradition, you have to do your own things to sing. So I’m not different from the other poets other than me.”

Siba says there are rules to this poetic street music. First, you have to write and sing your own verses. Second, with the exception of a song’s chorus — you can’t repeat verses. And — third — you’ve got to be ready to sing about anything. This song, for example, is about the high cost of living in Brazil.

Siba croons — “The way things are going, I’ll end up having to pay for the air in my lungs.” Another song on Siba’s CD is about a really bad soccer team that always blames the referee when it loses.

Siba often performs his songs out on the street — literally — as part of another tradition called Maracatu. It’s a sort of Pernambuco poetry slam.

SibaSibaSIBA: “And you have to sing all night, in some meetings between poets. So two groups meet in the street, and the two poets have to challenge themselves in many different forms of poetic styles. And they have to sing about everything. So I must be able to write about many different things, not only in a funny way.”
Siba says many people assume that this sort of music comes from rural Brazil. But he says it really comes from Pernambuco’s cities — where Maracatu and other similar traditions flourish. And Siba likes the fact that he and his band are taking that musical expression to listeners all over the world.

“It’s nice because people begin to understand that Brazil is not only samba and bossa nova. And they begin to feel that there is more Brazils inside Brazil. This is a very nice moment.”

Siba and “A Fuloresta” have a new CD out. It’s called “toda vez que eu dou um passo o mundo sai do lugar.”

Which roughly means, — every time I make a move, the world goes out of whack.

For The World, I’m William Troop.

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