Brazilian Music Camp

Hi friends! A member of our CRASHers Council (supporters of our series of social events for culturally adventerous greater Bostonians, ages 21-40) participated in this incredible Brazilian music camp in California this summer. We were intrigued... and so we asked her to write a guest blog post about her experience! Next summer, I may insist she take my with her! Enjoy.

This August, I attended a week-long camp that brought together many aspects of the Brazilian musical community (drumming, dancing, singing) all in a beautiful secluded Redwood grove a few hours away from San Francisco, California.

While I have spent the past two years playing and learning about music mostly from the Samba Reggae tradition, most of the groups at camp were centered around the Samba Rio tradition.  Aside from the varying regional origins of each style, one difference between the two involves a change of instrumentation: the Samba Reggae ensemble used a tall hand drum called the timbau, which usually played cues that called in the rest of the ensemble.  Meanwhile, the Samba Rio ensembles, with no hand drums, included a line of tamborim players, who were most responsible for playing intricate and syncopated lines, and providing a sense of “melody” for the highly percussive group. Leaders of these different baterias included Brian Davis, drummer from the band Pink Martini, Boston-based Marcus Santos, who has brought his world drumming curriculum to samba groups all around the world, and Maestre Ailton Nunes, director of the Mangueria Samba School in Brazil.

Besides the baterias, other classes offered at the camp included a variety of dance classes, from beginning to advanced, lessons in Portuguese, and ensembles for melodic and harmonic instruments such as flute, accordion, and cavaquinho.  Brazil Camp had no easy landline or internet access, and was about a mile away from any cell phone service, so there was a lot of time for reflection.  One major idea I took away from this experience was the vastness of what I still have to learn about music from this country. I was introduced to new musical styles such as forró, choro, and pagode.  It was a little overwhelming to think that just as I was starting to get a handle on bateria-style drumming, I was only at the tip of the iceberg.  It was also inspiring to be around so many people who lived and breathed this kind of music—whether dancing, singing, playing, or all of the above. 

For those completely unfamiliar with, yet curious about Brazilian culture and music—essentially where I was two years ago—I urge you to do some research about local samba schools and workshops.  As I have discovered from this annual gathering of musicians, ensembles devoted to Brazilian music are spread through communities all over the United States! The music is truly infectious and joyous—definitely something I am looking forward to learning more about! –Maria Price, M.Mus. The Boston Conservatory/B.Mus. UMass Lowell

For more information on California Brazil Camp, click here.