Contemporary Carioca

Technologies of Mixing in a Brazilian Music Scene

Contemporary Carioca

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 16 photographs, 1 map Published: April 2012

Author: Frederick Moehn

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Brazil, Music > Sound Studies

Brazilian popular music is widely celebrated for its inventive amalgams of styles and sounds. Cariocas, native residents of Rio de Janeiro, think of their city as particularly conducive to musical mixture, given its history as a hub of Brazilian media and culture. In Contemporary Carioca, the ethnomusicologist Frederick Moehn introduces a generation of Rio-based musicians who collaboratively have reinvigorated Brazilian genres, such as samba and maracatu, through juxtaposition with international influences, including rock, techno, and funk. Moehn highlights the creativity of individual artists, including Marcos Suzano, Lenine, Pedro Luís, Fernanda Abreu, and Paulinho Moska. He describes how these artists manage their careers, having reclaimed some control from record labels. Examining the specific meanings that their fusions have in the Carioca scene, he explains that musical mixture is not only intertwined with nationalist discourses of miscegenation, but also with the experience of being middle-class in a country confronting neoliberal models of globalization. At the same time, he illuminates the inseparability of race, gender, class, place, national identity, technology, and expressive practice in Carioca music and its making. Moehn offers vivid depictions of Rio musicians as they creatively combine and reconcile local realities with global trends and exigencies.


Contemporary Carioca is a solid scholarly text, and it’s a good read.” — Bill Shoemaker, The Wire

“[A] capable study, particularly useful for its consideration of the music of Lenine, a major musical figure. For all libraries supporting study of popular music.” — Tom Moore, Notes

“This volume is an excellent resource for those interested in Brazilian culture in general and popular music in Brazil in particular. Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and above.” — K. W. Mukuna, Choice

“...Moehn’s work is important because it brings to the table fresh, interesting material that he analyzes with a nice combination of ethnomusicological and anthropological insights and frames. Present and future ‘new Brazilianists’ will do well to follow his lead by examining the multiple processes that go into making music and studying artists who, for one reason or another, have received little scholarly attention." — Marc Hertzman, The Americas

“[An] insightful mix of anthropological ethnography and musical analysis. . . . Moehn expertly switches register throughout the chapters moving from a mode that privileges the contextual description of a historian / biographer to one of a music critic exercising a precision of vocabulary to catch the subtleties of musical meter and harmony to a register of high theory engaging Deleuze and the present zeitgeist of anthropological musings on identity-as-becoming in addition to Turino and current theories of musical semiotics as indicative of sociality. The fluidity of Moehn’s prose evinces a mastery of all registers, that which only a performer, in all of its connotations, could pull off.” — Derek Pardue, Luso-Brazilian Review

“Moehn has written a compelling account of these important musicians, and he uncovers how they employed strategies of perseverance for their own artistic integrity within a homogenized musical marketplace.”  — Eric A. Galm, Perfect Beat

“With his vast knowledge of post-production studio technologies and his intimate knowledge of popular music in both political and commercial contexts, Moehn provides a valuable and highly engaging contribution to the field.” — Jordan Saull, IASPM@Journal

“Moehn’s study provides productive insights for novices and experts in Brazilian music studies. His descriptions of how artists are managing and even benefiting from the decline of the record industry are especially illuminating for researchers who are interested in the effects of neoliberalism on musical production in Brazil and beyond. . . . Moehn’s descriptions of each artist’s biography and analyses of their major works are thought provoking and present a much-needed English language resource for Brazilian pop music enthusiasts.”  — Falina Enriquez, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

 “Beyond the nuanced assessments of musical production, the elaboration on meanings of mix makes this book attractive to postcolonialism, subaltern studies, multiculturalism, new historicism – in sum, for lines of cultural critique interested in relations of power and resistance. With so many poly- and interdisciplinary insights, Moehn’s book will appeal to colleagues in music, urbanism, cultural studies, Luso-Brazilian civilization, Latin American Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese. Individuals, academic units and institutions should all listen and include the book in their own mixes and playlists.” — Charles A. Perrone, Bulletin of Latin American Research

“Throughout, Moehn’s book is gratifyingly rooted in the specifics of musical sound and production procedure. . . . It bursts with telling details. . . . The sophistication of Moehn’s take on the thorny subject of middle-class identity is worth mentioning as well. . . . [An] innovative and well-accomplished piece of popular musical analysis.” — Joshua Tucker, Ethnomusicology

"Contemporary Carioca is an engaging study of musical production in Brazil that focuses on a group of Rio-based, middle-class musicians who emerged in the 1980s and 1990s and continue to produce innovative work. Among the book's many strengths is its organization around individual artists and the ways that they have approached questions of globalization, national identity, social class, race, and gender. Frederick Moehn succeeds admirably in describing and analyzing the specificity of Brazilian strategies for negotiating global and local musical practices." — Christopher Dunn, coeditor of Brazilian Popular Music and Citizenship

"Frederick Moehn guides us on a scintillating exploration of Brazilian popular music of the 1990s, combining deep critical explication of the work of key performers with sharp delineation of that work's place in the political and commercial context. No previous author has balanced intimate knowledge of popular music as a studio creation with careful exploration of the Brazilian cultural marketplace as successfully as Moehn does here." — Bryan McCann, Georgetown University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Frederick Moehn is Lecturer in Music at King's College London.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xxiii

Introduction 1

1. Marcos Suzano: A Carioca Blade Runner 25

2. Lenine: Pernambuco Speaking to the World 55

3. Pedro Luís and the Wall: Tupy Astronauts 92

4. Fernanda Abreu, Garota Carioca 130

5. Paulinho Moska: Difference and Repetition 167

6. On Cannibals and Chameleons 204

Appendix 1: About the Interviews, with a List of Interviews Cited 211

Appendix 2: Introductory Aspects of Marcos Suzano's Pandeiro Method 215

Notes 219

References 245

Discography 267

Index 269
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