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Wednesday’s Wise Woman …

October 3, 2012

This weeks post does not venture far from the Brazilian music theme I have recently adopted.  However we do go back in time to the late 19th century;  To Rio in the hillside favelas where the modern samba emerged among the black and mixed-race peoples.  It was during the time that slavery was abolished, the monarchy had ended and the first republic was being formed.
The question of citizenship was the topic of debate in literary and political circles.  The Brazilian elite discussed the role of former slaves,immigrants and others who until now had been socially and politically excluded.  According to some studies it was when the European dances such as the polka and Brazilian musical practices intertwined that the mediation began.  It was a long slow process but it did give rise to Brazil’s first distinctly national urban musical genre; the maxixe and the acceptance on some level of the Afro-Brazilian culture.  Although there was still some controversy as regards the notion of maxixe; with suggestions of lasciviousness and indecency and it being a ‘dangerous’ dance.
Although the genre remained popular its name changed to the safer Brazilian Tango and then Samba emerged.
One Bahian migrant Hilaria Baptista de Almeida (1854-1924) better known as Tia Ciata (Aunt Ciata) became famous for the late night samba sessions held in her home on the square called Praca Onze (Little Africa)
In 1917 a young musician called Donga registered  a song that been collectively composed at Tia Ciata’s home at the National Library.  The song Pelo Telefone may not have been the first samba song as Donga claimed; a rival musician called Ismael Silva suggested that it was not Samba but on old time maxixe.  But the registration stood and Donga’s claim was honoured.
The recording of Pelo Telefone was symbol of samba’s place in the modern urban society and the might of technology and communication.  The recording coincided with general strike in Sao Paulo; involving native born and immigrant workers. It was a significant time in Brazilian labour history and the beginning of the end of the first republic.

It was in Tia Ciata’s home  where musicians, composers would meet with bohemians and politicians.  Attracted by her culinary and healing skills and music. She had a large family to provide for; during the day she would sell tit-bits in the street.  There was no public space for black people to meet and socialise. Samba was still considered unacceptable  by the police.  At night  Tia Ciata was able to disguise the so called anti -social behaviour as religious activity.

Tia Ciata was a tap-dancer in the best traditional folk samba from Bahia she was instrumental in the setting up of cultural centres and the introduction of Cariocas in Rio de Janeiro.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2012 1:58 pm

    Reblogged this on msamba.

    • October 3, 2012 3:34 pm

      Thank you for the Re-blog I am humbled and flattered; Good wishes from Helenx

  2. May 4, 2016 9:42 am

    Reblogged this on Living, Libraries and [Dead] Languages and commented:

    Beginning to look forward to my next trip to Brazil … what more can I say

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