Musica Brasilis

Musica Brasilis

Iconography and videos related to musical practices in Brazil

Images showing musical practices since the 16th century

Indian practices, including music and dance, were a favorite subject of foreign visitors.

Potion preparation

Wind and percussion instruments like the flute and the "maraca" were played during the potion preparation ritual

Canide Ioune - Anna Maria Kieffer e Grupo Anima

Blowing the force spirit over the tupinambas.

Blowing the force spirit over the tupinambas

Blowing the force spirit over the tupinambas

Percussion instruments were used in native dances

African slaves
African brought their instruments, ritual and musical practices, which greatly influenced Brazilian music.

Percussion instruments used in ritual dances

Invocation of spirits in ritual dances

Lundu - Vox Brasiliensis and Ricardo Kanji

A guitar is used on the lundu dance

The man uses castanets while dancing the lundu, an "umbigada dance", which means dancing facing one bellybutton to the other

Body percussion, like clapping hands, was used in dances like the "batuque"

The "entrudo" was a playful practice which occured in carnival. It consisted of spilling water and smashing flower on people's faces

The old man plays the berimbau, a percussion instrument

Lundu - Vox Brasiliensis and Ricardo Kanji

Described as a "marimba" by Debret, this instrument is known as a thumb kalimba

Percussion instrument called "reco-reco"

Berimbau, a percussion instrument

Miserer Mei, Deus (Salmo 56 - Adagio) - Vox Brasiliensis and Ricardo Kanji

Trumpets and drums played in the sacrament ceremony of a sick person

Processions and music bands
Music played on the streets required loud wind and percussion instruments
Lundu - Vox Brasiliensis and Ricardo Kanji

The black queen and her escorts. A ganzá (percussion instrument) and a french horn are being played on her right side

Percussion instruments and a guitar or plucked viola are played in the black queen's procession

A drum and a reco-reco, percussion instruments, are played on the black queen's coronation

Lundu - Vox Brasiliensis and Ricardo Kanji

A guitar or plucked viola, and percussion instruments are played on the black king's procession

A cymbal, a drum, a saxophone, a trombone and a piccolo integrate the band celebrating the Holy Ghost Festivity

A drum, two pandeiros and two guitars or plucked violas integrate the band celebrating the Holy Ghost festivity. The dove on the flag symbolizes the Holy Ghost.

Children play percussion instruments on the Holy Ghost Festivity

A flute, a french horn and a trumpet integrate the band playing in honor of Saint George

Neukomm - marcha nº 3

Wind instruments played by cavaliers at the Municipal Proclamation

From left to right, a serpent, an ancient instrument that first appeared in the 16th century, a requinto (small clarinet), and two clarinets integrate the frigate Austria's band

A french horn and a drum also integrate the frigate Austria's band

an instrument brought to Brazil by the Portuguese - one of the most practiced  since the XIXth century

A lute or portuguese guitar seen resting on the balcony floor while the enamoured couple gaze at each other depicts the habit of playing music at home present in the XIX century Rio de Janeiro culture

A lute or portuguese guitar

A portuguese guitar played outdoors creates a romantic ambiance depicting a habit of São Paulo culture in the 19th century

A lute or portuguese guitar player

Two musicians play the flute and a lute, or portuguese guitar, or a mandolin on a calm summer afternoon

Possibly a lute, a portuguese guitar or a mandolin

Wooden flute

Magnificent cars
Procession in honor of Prince John's marriage, organized by the Vice-Governor, Passeio Público, Rio de Janeiro, on February 1786 (it was Carnival!)

Fifth car of horse riding parade - 18th century

First Mount and Volcano car - 18th century

Second car and Jupiter monte - 18th century

Third car and Bacco monte - 18th century

Fourth car of the moors - 18th century

Sixth car of burlesque horse parades - 18th century

Candido Portinari (1903 - 1962)
One of the major Brazilian painters, Portinari portrayed musicians several times

Band integrated by clarinet, trumpet, guitar or cavaquinho, and a percussion instrument called "cuíca", used to play samba. The clown costume depicts it is carnival

Band integrated by clarinet, trumpet, guitar or cavaquinho, and a percussion instrument called "cuíca", used to play samba

Cuíca, percussion instrument typically found in samba musical groups

A wind instrument band integrated by a bombardon, a tuba, a clarinet and a piccolo


Bombardon on the left

Portinari portrays the samba ambiance with men, women and children playing. The lady plays the ganzá (percussion instrument) and the man plays the guitar

Portinari portrays a guitar player and his connection with women

Portinari portrays a samba school at carnival

The woman carrying the flag is called a "porta-estandarte". She symbolizes the samba school pride

The horse costume the boy wears is called a "burrinha" or "small donkey", typical of northeastern Brazilian culture during carnvival, especially in the state of Pernambuco

On the right Portinari portrays the presence of the guitar at samba schools on the hands of a typical "sambista", a musician who plays samba, wearing a white outfit, a hat and striped shirt

Clarinet and flute players also integrate the band which plays at samba schools

A trio consisted of a clarinet, a trumpet and a guitar player

A panoramic view of instruments used in Brazilian music
Wind instruments
Wind instruments are usually formed by a tube (pipe) and the sound is produced by the passage of air inside it. The larger and wider the pipe is, the lower is the sound it produces. They are made of wood or brass.
String instruments
On string instruments the sound is produced from one or more vibrating strings which are attached to the instrument's extremities. The thicker and longer the string is, deeper the sound produced. 
Percussion instruments
Percussion instruments are struck (hit), shaken, scraped or rubbed to produce sound.
Keyboard instruments
On keyboard instruments, the sound is produced by the action of keys. On the harpsichord, the keys are similar to levers that act on jacks equipped with plastic tongues. On the piano, the keys trigger hammers that hit the strings, enabling dynamics. 
Brazilian iconography related to music from the XVIth to the XXth centuries
Credits: Story

The present exhibition is based on Musica Brasilis contents (
Curator and research: Dr. Rosana Lanzelotte
Assistant: Anna Paes
Acknowledgments: IHGB (Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro) and Projeto Portinari

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google