A  Music & Art Tour in Southern Brazil
October 1 – October 12, 2012



On Botafago beach, Rio de Janiero, this 39-foot head of a 14-year-old girl is a
sculpture composed of marble dust and resin by Spanish artist Jaume Piensa.  

Subsequent Photographs and All Commentary by Debra Jan Bibel

Music / Samba: Alvará  [Ao Vivo /  Jorege Aragão / Universal]: 2.5 min excerpt


I organized a small group tour to focus on the art and music of Rio de Janeiro and Paraty and a visit to the spectacular falls of Foz do Iguaçu. I own some 100 recordings of diverse Brazilian music, grew up on bossa nova during the 1950s and 1960s, and have read many books on the ethnomusicology of Brazil. [List] The concerts and club performances of this music (mainly samba and choro) in the Bay Area seemed deficient. I desired the in situ experience of hearing Brazilian music among crowds of Brazilians in Brazil. As an artist whose style is of bold, intense colors, I also hoped and presumed to see a similar palette in this Latin nation in its art and architecture. The first was achieved, the second proved to be a disappointment.

Brazilian music is as extensive in form as in the United States. Besides familiar samba and bossa nova, there is the earlier style of choro and the regional musics of the Northeastern coast states of Pernabuco and Bahia and the interior states, as well as indigenous native tribes. Fusions of Portuguese, African, and Indian music plus the influence of the modern popular styles of the United States and the Caribbean create rich varieties of Latin jazz, country, folk, rock, reggae, pop, hip hop, and rap, which differ somewhat than that  found in the United States. Brazilian music is almost uniformly cheerful with strong rhythms; the melodies are fairly simple; the lyrics are romantic, with the primary exception of protest rap. The traditional music of the Northeast, chiefly forró, is parallel to Louisiana cajon, with accordion and triangle and drum; contemporary bands add electric guitars, bass, and horns.  Beats of 2/4 and 4/4 characterize this music. Afro-Brazilian music dominates the Bahian coast with its bowed berimbau martial music, capoeira, and the ritualistic Candomblé — forms which we did not experience during our southern tour. Traditional Brazilian instruments, as can be expected, are variants of drums, lutes, and percussion.  Besides the customary guitar, a 10-string, double-five-course guitar, the viola, is played. Also, the violã, which has 7 strings, and the small 4-string ukelele-like cavaquinho are found. The bandolim is an mandolin of usually four double-strings. The chief drums are the bass surdo, the medium repinique, the panderiro tambourine, and sometimes the caixa frame snare drum.  Carnival percussion is diverse: aptio whistle, cuica friction drum, ganaz shakers, guiro and reco-reco scrappers, chacalhos or rocar massed jingles, and the two-toned cowbell-like agogo. [pdf images]

Our visits to art galleries and museums mainly showed derivative art, as Brazilians studied and adapted the various European schools. Some works, however, were strikingly attractive and unique. Even most of the wall graffiti was elaborate and clever.

Brazil is beautiful. Its fine beaches, vast tropical foliage, numerous coastal islands, peculiar birds, fish, rodents, reptiles, felines, and other animals present another world.  Brazilians were friendly and especially polite and respectful of the elderly and infirmed. Their joie de vivre, so evident in soccer/football games and carnival occasionally televised in the United States, indeed permeates the land.

Organization and Viewing / Copying/ Saving/ Sending/ Printing

Clicking each tour site will lead to a web page containing thumbnail images and commentary. Clicking on the small photographs will cause an enlargement of the image to appear.  Your browser will allow further zooming by clicking on the enlarged image. I have sized them to 1500 px wide or high.  In order to copy, 'save as', email, or print these images for your own use, right-click your mouse and choose from the pop-up menu. 


Day 1 & 2

[Rio de Janeiro] Tour Leader:

          Debra Jan Bibel

Other Travelers:

          Bennett Bibel

          Dinah Berland

          Judith Stransky

          Steve Biggs


Travel Agency:

          SANTOURS / Santini Tours & Tropical Travel

          Joseph Santini, President
          Oakland, California


Day 3 [Rio de Janeiro]
Day 4 & 5 [Rio de Janeiro]
Day 1 to 3 [Paraty]
Days 1 & 2 [Foz do Iguaçu]




The Travelers

Instrument Images

Book List



Concerning © images. Those particular images may be downloaded and printed for personal use only.  Unless when indicated,  images © 2012 Debra Jan Bibel. Please do not upload to other websites or distribute without permission.


To Bibel's art web site