Salvador the Best!

Salvador da Bahia, Brazil Central
The Deep Guide to Brazil's Essentiality

Sprawled across broad equatorial latitudes, stoked and steamed and sensual in the widest sense of the word... limned in cadenced song... its very name born in heat and embers, Brazil is a conundrum wrapped in a smile inside an irony.

There are certain places...

...the names of which fire the popular imagination. Brazil is one of them; an amalgam of primitive and sophisticated, jungle and elegance, beating drums and luscious jazz harmonics, there's no other place like it on earth. And while Rio, or its fame anyway, tends toward the elegant and "sophisticated" end of the spectrum, Salvador -- Brazil's first capital -- tends toward the other. This is the land of saints, magic, and the drum.

  -- Pardal "Sparrow" Roberts

Salvador, the City

Salvador & Its Spirit
An Introduction to Salvador, Brazil

A Short History

A Short History of Salvador da Bahia
Some History of Salvador, Brazil

Musicians' Area

Salvador's Music Site
Non-musicians welcome too

Carnival in Salvador

Carnival in Salvador
Carnival in Salvador, Brazil

The World Cup

World Cup Salvador
The World Cup in Salvador, Brazil

The Old City: Pelourinho

Salvador's Old City
The Old Town in Salvador, Brazil

Salvador's Neighborhoods

Salvador's Neighborhoods
Neighborhoods in Salvador, Brazil

Salvador Sites & History

Salvador Sites
Some Sites in Salvador, Brazil

Brazilian Music

A History of Brazilian Music
Brazil's Brilliant Musical History

Apartment Rental: Alain

Apartment Rental Salvador: Alain
Apartments in Salvador, Brazil

The Music of Bahia

Music of Bahia
About Music in Salvador, Brazil

Bangin' Brazilian Music!

Listen to Music from Salvador, Brazil!

About Us

About Us
Stranger in a Strange Land

The Sacred & the Profana

Festas in Salvador, Brazil

Apartment Rental: Daniel

Apartment Rental Salvador: Daniel
Apartments in Salvador, Brazil

Food & Eating Out in Salvador

Food in Salvador
Cuisine in Salvador, Brazil

Drinking in Salvador

Drinking in Salvador
Tippling in Salvador, Brazil

Salvador's Beach Scene

Salvador's Beaches
Beaches in and About Salvador, Brazil

Islands in the Bay

Islands in the Bay
Islands in Salvador's Baía de Todos os Santos

An English-Owned Hotel!

An English-Owned Hotel
British Organization in Salvador, Brazil

What's On in Salvador

What's On in Salvador
Happenings in Salvador, Brazil

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
Questions About Salvador, Brazil

Download Music

Download Great Brazilian Music
Get Music!

Ubiquitous Deities: Candomblé

Candomblé in Salvador, Brazil

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse!

A Seaside Musical Guesthouse
Musically Informed and Inspired

Capoeira: Dance Like a Baryshnikov, Hit Like
a Kalashnikov

Capoeira in Salvador, Brazil

Salvador's Afoxés &
Blocos Afros

Salvador's Afoxe's & Blocos Afros
Salvador's African Carnival Music

Percussion Classes in Salvador: Heaviest Hands

Percussion Classes in Salvador
Great Percussion Teachers in Salvador

Brazilian Music
Workshops & Tours

Brazilian Music Workshops
Music Tours of Salvador & Environs

Fiction from Bahia

Fiction from Bahia
Fiction Conceived and Written Here

Group Lodging in Salvador Professional & Student

Group Lodging in Salvador
Lodging in Salvador, Brazil

Learning Portuguese:
Lessons & Classes

Learning Portuguese
Portuguese Classes in Salvador, Brazil

Money Matters

Money Matters
Where to Change Money, etc.

Buying Property in Salvador

Buying Property in Salvador
Property in Salvador, Brazil

Dental Help in Salvador

Dental Help in Salvador
Hopefully you won't need it, but...

S.O.S. Brazil: Volunteer Work

Volunteer Work
Helping in Salvador, Brazil

How to Avoid Problems

How to Avoid Being Robbed & Cheated
Prudence in Salvador, Bahia

Off Salvador's Beaten Track

Off Salvador's Beaten Track
Far from the Maddening Crowds

Buses, Taxis, & Cars

How to Get Around
Gettin' Around in Salvador, Brazil

Current Weather & the Forecast

Current Weather
The Weather in Salvador, Brazil

Black Market: Bahian Bazaar

Black Market
Out of the Common Purchases

Outside of Salvador

Outside of Salvador
Ranging Outside of Salvador, Brazil

Other Voices

Other Voices
On Brazil, Life & Culture

Kindred Spirits

Kindred Spirits
Related Tenuously But Truly

Salvador Tours

 A Tour Guide to Salvador
A Writer's Tours


Why Should You Have a Page in the Online Music Codex?
Because it's powered by the Small World Phenomenon
...and you're a part of this world, aren't you? Meaning that...

Salvador's Giant Steps

every gypsy jazz guitarist in a European caravan camp and every sitar player in Bengal and every sambista in every favela in Rio de Janeiro is within an average of six (6) introductions from you.

We've taken this well-known principle, put it online, substituted LINKS for introductions...

Salvador Muse  

...and the results are as if Euterpe (the Greek muse of music) has waved her aulos, transforming the music world into a truly open and accessible society wherein within some few hops anybody on the planet can potentially reach and hear anybody else, no matter who or where they are...

Mongolian shepherds and New York hipsters can click through to brilliant Bahian chuleiros and magnificent samba-de-roda that they NEVER would have found without a musical codex on the air! In both a reflection and a refoundation of society!

Link and be linked to. There's magnificent music there!

The Distilled Essence of Brazil

People say one picture is worth a thousand words, but I don't believe that for a second.Words are what place humanity among the angels (and demons). But yes, it's also possible to say without words what might be difficult and evasive to capture with them, and the clip below says something profoundly. It's the very end of Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus), a song by Luis Bonfá, Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro "playing" the guitar and dancing samba with two other children. And while the guitar playing here is certainly dubbed, even at this age Carlinhos was a magnificent pandeiro (tambourine) player, really playing in the scene where he had a pandeiro in his hands. There's more on Carlinhos here.


Warning!!!  If You're Thinking About Coming to Brazil, and You Can't Stand the Heat...

A little advice: Brazil is not a European nation. It's not a North American nation. It's not an East Asian nation. It straddles -- jungle and desert and dense urban centers -- both the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. It absorbed over ten times the number of African slaves taken to the United States of America. Its people have lived under oligarchy, plutocracy, dictatorships and massive corruption, with elements of these still strongly entrenched here today.

Despite what the Brazilian government tells you, and what is constantly repeated in news outlets, Brazil is a poor country. It may have the world's sixth largest economy, but the money is hoarded at the top. The vaunted "new middle class" is a cynical creation into which are placed families earning from 291 reais per month per person.* Around 125 dollars per. 375 dollars monthly for a family of three. Does that sound "middle class" to you? The supposed purchasing power of these families was based in easy credit at high interest rates made possible by the exertions and offices of the federal government (largely for the government's own purposes and benefit; there are huge taxes baked into almost every purchase in Brazil), and the inevitable has happened...the spending party is over.

*Here you can get it straight from the Brazilian government, on page 5.


Brazil has buzz...not the shallow buzz of fashionable moment...but the deep buzz of a population which in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- the tough slog through life to which they are submitted daily by humanity's dregs-in-fine-linen, have chosen not to pull themselves glumly through it all but to make the best of things and lift their voices in song and their bodies in eat well and converse well and much and to wring the joy out of day-to-day happenings and small pleasures which are so often ignored or set aside in the European, North American, and East Asian nations.

For this Brazil has a genius perhaps unparalled in all other countries and societies, a genius which thrives alongside peeling paint and holes in the streets and roads, under bad organization by the powers-that-be -- both civil and governmental -- under a constant rain of societal indignities...

Which is to say that if prospective first-time visitors to Brazil are expecting light and orderliness, they will certainly find the light! And the buzz of a people who for generations have responded to privation at many different levels by somehow rising above it.

Beautiful Salvador World Cup Apartment Rentals!

Thinking about an apartment? What Alain has to say is quick, to the point, and interesting!

Alain's Apartments in Salvador: Click HERE for information and listings!!!
Je parle français!

The Elemental Importance of Samba

Brazil, outside of itself, is known primarily for football and samba. As expressions of national flair and exuberance, if not mania. But with respect to samba, this view misses a much deeper point...Slavery is an unfortunate fact of human history, justified by Plato, practiced by, among others, the esteemed founders of the American Republic. In Brazil, among other reactions to this execrable inhumanity, came -- on the sugarcane plantations of Bahia -- the creation of a new dance and accompanying rhythms and music...not mere entertainment, but a celebratory affirmation of the human spirit under the worst conditions possible.

This then is samba's importance: A graceful metaphorical step away from laughing in the face of Death, it's another in humanity's arsenal of not only survival mechanisms, but of prevailing mechanisms.

But What About the Bossa Nova?

Nothin' nova 'bout his bossa!
Jorge Veiga

"Bossa" is, or was rather, Brazilian slang for a certain stylishness. In terms of music it was first used as per "samba de bossa", for music that had nothing to do whatsoever with bossa nova. This was the swinging music of Jorge Veiga, Cyro Monteiro, Elza Soares and a few others: boppin' big band samba as Brazilian as Jorge Veiga's finely-sculpted pencil moustache.

But for some people hot ain't always cool, and in the '50s the more well-to-do kids began to see samba as square old-guy music. They looked to movieland, the United States, and its popular music and cool jazz. Their music was sambafied when João Gilberto arrived in Rio from Bahia, playing samba rhythms as sophisticated jazz chords on his guitar; he was welcomed as an avatar.The rhythms he'd picked up on the streets of Juazeiro, Bahia were grafted into music conceived with another sensibility in mind. This wasn't heat and trial imbuing music meant to dance to. It wasn't was languour. Cool. Defanged. Declawed. Gutted of the complicated polyrhythms played in samba. Domesticated down. De-Africanized.This isn't to say there isn't genius there (nor to say that there wasn't a lot of samba which adopted the label "bossa nova" for marketing purposes; nor to say that there wasn't a lot of blurring of the line between samba and bossa nova). Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote achingly beautiful melodies. Luiz Bonfa's Manhã de Carnaval (especially as sung by Elizeth Cardoso for the film Orfeu Negro, Black Orpheus) is supreme...But while bossa nova utilizes elements of samba, it isn't samba in the deepest sense*.

* To this day João Gilberto says that what he plays and sings is samba, and not bossa nova.

And Bahia? You might hear bossa nova here (just as you might hear it in Tokyo), but in reality this is sambaland. It's The Land Where Samba was Born, after all. It's African Brazil, and therein lies the fundamental difference between samba and bossa nova: samba is African; bossa nova isn't.

The magisterial Paulinho da Viola, sambista!!! (recently in Salvdor)

More on Paulinho, including (wonderful) samba to listen to, here... If you don't know samba, and are under the impression that it's piston-like drumming for babes in feathers, you might be surprised.

The Gods Don't Walk Here...They Dance!

In Salvador you'll be in a place where the gods walk the earth...or to put it more on the earth. There are more houses of candomblé, the West African religious system transported to the New World aboard the slave ships, than churches. And in these houses of candomblé songs are sung to enchanting polyrhythms (played on three drums and an agogô, a metallic bell), the songs drawing down the deities to temporarily inhabit the bodies of specially prepared adepts.

These ceremonies are open to the public. Saravá! There is some beautiful candomblé-based music here!

An Open Letter to Journalists, with respect to World Cup-based Coverage of Salvador

Dear Journalistic Amigo(a),With the approach of the World Cup here in Brazil, a lot of the world's eyes will be turned in this direction, and a lot of what people glean about this place will be by means of you and your colleagues. So...You might want to consider this site as a big cheat sheet...but in order to facilitate busy lives I've put together an opening, pertinent, condensed cheat sheet...I'll start with the super-condensed version (which overlaps somewhat with the further below) --

  • Salvador is the capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia.Bahia is where Brazil (as a national entity) began, where the first Europeans landed.Salvador was founded before Rio de Janeiro. It was Brazil's first capital (until 1763).Bahia is where samba was born. It (samba) later moved to Rio with Afro-Bahians looking for work (much as the blues moved from the American South to northern cities with Afro-Americans looking for work).Salvador is home to THE LARGEST CARNIVAL in the world. There will be a second Carnival held during the period of the World Cup games (dates of this Carnival to be announced).June in Bahia is a traditional month of festivals, culminating in the festa of São João on June 24th (the BIG party is on the eve of the festa, the 23rd). The music for this/these festas is forró, funky accordion-based Brazilian hillbilly music to which Brazilians dance like Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers. Although São João is the really big one, the festas continue till the festa of São Pedro on the 29th.
  • Salvador is surrounded by beaches, and these beaches are one of the primary focuses of social life in Salvador (tie not necessary), where people go to hang out, drink coconut water and ice-cold beer, eat, dance, meet...

Now a less condensed version --Everybody knows used to be synonymous with glamour..."London! Paris! Rio!" The Girl from Ipanema! The Copacabana Palace! Maybe the gun battles in the hillside favelas even had a certain romance, from a great distance, like Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral...But Salvador? The third largest city in Brazil, after São Paulo and Rio? It's continually confused with the country of El Salvador, in Central America. And if you ask me, that's a shame.

Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, was once the capital of Brazil, ceding to Rio in 1763. It's the largest African city outside of Africa, with some 80% of its population of African or mixed ancestry (and with respect to the mixed part, the real percentage is probably substantially higher!...there's a great song in Bahia, which says - translating - "There in Bahia, every white person has a black person in the family").

So Bahia is African, with a vengeance! Their African religion was persecuted on and off for centuries; their sambas were broken up by the police, and the Afro-Brazilian reaction was typically high-spirited human: They hung on even more fiercely to what was theirs, to their heritage, to their own version of their heritage, something which had become a uniquely Afro-Brazilian heritage. This religion, celebrated in thousands of houses of candomblé in Bahia to lovely melodies and extremely complicated and enchanting rhythms, has virtually disappeared in Africa.Samba doesn't exist in Africa, except as something imported from Brazil. Similarities exist, particularly, in terms of dance, in the movement of the hips. But the deliciously elegant throw of the feet doesn't exist on The Old Continent, nor the rhythmic springs which undulatingly energize the body -- and spirit -- coming close to telling them exactly what to do (raise the latter; use the former as a demonstration-to-the-world of this).

Oh! An important point! Samba was born in Bahia, not in Rio de Janeiro! Bahia is the Mississippi Delta of Brazil, the New Orleans, the place to where the origins of Brazil's National Music can be clearly traced. Samba was born on the sugarcane plantations of the Recôncavo, the concave-shaped region around Bahia's great Baía de Todos os Santos (Bay of All Saints; Bahia is the old spelling for bay). It travelled to Rio in the mid-1800s with slaves purchased in Bahia and destined for the docks of Rio and the coffee plantations of the state of Rio de Janeiro, and with former slaves freed under the general decree of 1888.

Continuing, Bahia has its own cuisine, African of course in origin, tending to be flavored with coconut milk and hot peppers and dendé, palm oil. Acarajés are fritters made from a bean mash, served up with a variety of condiments, including (should one choose) smoked shrimp, usually from a table set up in the street. Moquecas are stews, seafood generally, flavored with dendé and coconut milk. Maniçoba is a savory concoction of manioc leaves and pork, something generally served not on the coast, but a bit further into the interior. These are the popular dishes, but there are a lot more.

With all this, there is a sense of evocation having to do with Bahia...beginning perhaps with the name: Bah-EE-ah (the aspirant "h" is not pronounced in Portuguese). Then there is the evocative appellation Baía de Todos os Santos, Bay of All Saints. These would be Christian saints, in that the name is derived from the fact that Captain Gaspar de Lemos and navigator Amerigo Vespucci sailed into the great bay on All Saints' Day, 1501, the date inspiring the name. But in a "real" sense, it was the African saints (of candomblé) who would land here, en masse.

Summing things up, briefly, what is generally seen by the world as the Brazilian sensibility, the sway in the hips of the women, the elegant footwork of dancing men (adapted to the football field in the best of times and players), the unabashed hugging of friends upon meeting them in public, not to mention the music (again)...all this is the legacy of Africans in Brazil. And although African Brazil is the creation of Africans who were transported to many parts of the country, the great trunk of this culture was, and is, in Bahia.There's more information scattered through this site, and I hope it will/might be helpful to you. This is an iconic, seminal place, wellspring of a great culture, and it's nice to help the world know.

Thank you.

The Son House / Charlie Patton of Brazil

João do Boi (John of the Ox)Brazil's Most Important Deep Roots Musician

Read about João and his music here...

The Gods of Brazil

Did you know that Brazil has gods (football aside)? In the sense that the Greeks and the Romans did? The Greek and Roman gods were done in by Constantine (first blow) and Theodosius (final blow). The gods of Brazil were born in Africa and arrived in Brazil within the negreiros making the Middle Passage, a passage which transported not only people, but a culture. There was a great attempt by the Brazilian poobahs to do them in too, but it didn't work.

And as the Roman emperors moved to extinguish the very real belief in Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, Minerva and the rest, banning the ceremonies to these gods, the Brazilian "authorities" banned the ceremonies devoted to Oxalá, Oxossi, Iansã, Yemanjá and the rest. But like the ultimate futility of the communist stomping-on of Christianity in Russia, Poland, et al, the piety of the Brazilian ruling class was to no avail (can't you people ever mind your own business!???).

Now, the Greeks and Romans had statues; magnificent, wondrously conceived, wrought and elaborated statues. The Africans had rhythms, and melodies...magnificent, wondrously conceived, wrought and elaborated rhythms, over which are floated (they aren't attached, per Western music) melodies ranging from inspired to sublime. Some of these rhythms (one in particular) are the basis of Brazilian popular music.

So as marble adorns Rome, rhythm adorns Brazil...but to carry the analogy further, as the statues have with the passage of time become fewer and farther between, the modernization of Brazilian popular music has left the rhythms fewer and farther between (excepting those in Bahia's houses of candomblé, these houses multiplying greatly in number over the past few decades)...

But this is Brazil, isn't it? With music everywhere?

Paulinho da Viola
Looks pretty cool to me...

Yes, and yes, but. Samba and its vertentes are based in polyrhythms. And while one may say that Brazilian music was enriched by the confluence of African rhythm-and-melodies and European melodies-and-harmonies, the rhythmic component was, with the Americanization of the 1950s, and then under the effects of the British invasion of the '60s and the astounding market success of first-world music, impoverished. Speaking frankly, it was dumbed down. Detexturized. Anesthetized. Edge and angle taken out. Soothed and smoothed... Witness the birth of bossa nova and MPB (música popular brasileira)! Yes, there was genius there, but not in the strictly African-derived part of the music...that was old-fashioned, not hip.

Thank god for unhip people like Paulinho da Viola! Paulinho came of age in the 60s, when Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil went hippie, they celebrating the we-can-do-anything culture with their invention of tropicália, one ear to the sidewalks of San Francisco and the intersection of Haight-Ashbury...

Paulinho played samba then. He plays samba now. Music. Where somebody sings. And people play instruments. No BS. Paulinho's music was never modern, but it is timeless.

The great Bobby Sanabria quoted the great Art Blakey as saying that a place where jazz is played is a holy place, Bobby following this up with (addressing his audience from the stage) "So thanks for coming to church!

"In the spirit of Art Blakey, a place where samba is played is a holy place...and we ain't talkin' 'bout The Girl from Ipanema. Samba, with all the assaults upon its integrity, never left Brazil. To quote again, now the words of the great Nelson Sargento, it agonizes, but it doesn't die. It's even cool now.

Samba is the local equivalent of those Roman statues.

Looks like Porgy & Bess, doesn't it? But no, it's Unidos da Tijuca, members one of the first samba schools...

World Cup, Beaches & Deep Deep Culture

A festa to the north of Salvador...
What is Salvador? A larger and more pertinent question would be what is Bahia, the Brazilian state of which Salvador is capital...

Bahia is the spiritual heart of Brazil, not necessarily in the sense of religion (although that too), but in the sense of the overriding ethos that makes Brazil what it is.Music and dance are not mere accompaniments to life here, spice, but necessary attributes of it. This, these, and the fundamental psychology behind these manifestations, are the inheritance of Brazil's slaves. The most downtrodden of mankind have ironically made Brazil a nation of determined and resilient people whose infectious enthusiasm is seen as one of the fundamental characteristics of their national zeitgeist.

This is Bahia, where the population has retained, grasped, hung onto with heart and soul, cultural elements which have since died away on their native ground in Africa. This is Bahia, which to a large measure has made Brazil, Brazil, a place where people are determined to live their lives as if they really are alive.

Getting Ready for the World Cup!
Pelé and Garrincha: Gods of Brazil

In Brazil there are plenty of people who consider Garrincha to have been the greatest player who's ever lived (and please, that's Gah-HEEHN-shah). Garrincha was married to singer Elza Soares...whose first LP was A Bossa Negra de Elza Soares, the name meant to distinguish it from more pallid bossa nova making the rounds (bossa nova is smooth; samba is move). Elza's music swang, deep samba, the use of "bossa" in the title more in keeping with its original usage than that by which the term would become known to the world-at-large.

And Garrincha -- the man with legs like this -- )) -- played with bossa; the epitome of The Beautiful Game!

The World Cup & the Demonstrations

This is for everybody, but especially for you journalists and editors...

As most of the world is aware, during the buildup to, and then during, the Confederations Cup games here in Brazil, Brazilians took to the streets en masse to protest the misbehaviour of the people who run this country. It was about time and it's too bad they couldn't take a broom to the arrogant crooks-in-suits (and the occasional skirt) and sweep them out like roaches.

Not that these people (the crooks) diminish Brazil's majesty, such as it is. That majesty (such as it is) is expressed in an attitude widely reflected in samba: Samba was born on the sugarcane plantations of the Bahian Recôncavo (the area around the bay). It moved to Rio during the latter half of the 19th century (first with a transfer of Bahian slaves to work on the docks, then later with freed slaves going of their own volition to do likewise), where it thrived under poverty, oligarchy, plutocracy and dictatorship. Samba makes people feel alive, and happy to be so, and so of course the parasites-in-power banned even this!

Can you believe these people! They, of course, saw themselves as the arbiters of civilization!

So Brazil remained Brazil, with a rotten pomade on top, as is the case today, and Brazilians are sick of it. They took to the streets in dignified marches, millions of decent people wanting decency in government. Among these millions, a miniscule fraction went out to throw rocks, burn the occasional bus...and these dramatic-although-misleading images are what showed up in respectable newspapers and programs worldwide, giving the impression of a country-in-chaos-and-flames! What a crock! I saw what happened here with my own eyes (there was another area several blocks away, with rock-throwers confronting the police, as well), and these confrontations were no more dangerous to protesters-in-general -- never mind the people who weren't protesting -- than the tooth-fairy! Unless of course one had blundered through the multitudes to the police lines and joined the kids with the t-shirts wrapped around their faces (or a Guy Fawkes mask, maybe)...

So please, journalists and editors...we expect dishonesty from Brazilian government, we don't expect it from you (with the exception of Fox News and their cohorts, and maybe the tabloids). Don't conflate the dramatic exceptions with the boring-perhaps reality!

The Real is Falling! Brazil is Getting Cheaper (for foreigners)!

Several years ago Brazil's real skyrocketed against the rest of the world's currencies, investments pouring into the country as an alternative to the aftermath (of American and European bankers blowing up the real estate market in their respective countries, going home with the goodies hand-in-hand with their political mams, like dainty Vandals after raping and pillaging). Brazilian commodities were hot hot hot too, pumping up the real like a hot air balloon set to soar in sunny tropical skies.

But what goes up must come down (undoubtedly a saying and necessity from a long time ago, but I digress...) and the real is now plunging back to reality. As I write, a hundred euros will now get you 325 reais, whereas three months ago it would get you a little over 260. A hundred bucks will get you 244, against 205 three months ago.

Brazil's Banco Central is trying to stem the plunge, but the populist federal government is working at cross-purposes, determined to spend its way back into office during the next elections. No wonder the Effigy of the Republic looks as if someone has f@rted in an enclosed space. A fresh wind is blowing in Brazil though, and the new bank notes really are pretty!

Tiririca, a clown/comedian/singer, ran for federal congress on a platform including "What does a federal congressman do? To tell the truth, I don't know. But vote for me, and I'll tell you" and "If I'm elected I promise to help all Brazilian families, especially mine." He won with the second-highest number of votes for this office in Brazilian history.

Chegança dos Marujos in Saubara, Bahia

Saubara, Bahia is a small town set on the Baía de Todos os Santos, across the bay from Salvador. As in other small towns in Bahia, there is a yearly "reenactment" of the battles involving the invasion of the Moors into the Iberian peninsula. These are called "cheganças" (arrivals) dos Mouros (of the Moors) or dos Marujos (of the Sailors).

In practice, the cheganças involve lines of singing, marching, stepping, pandeiro (tambourine) playing "sailors", some smaller and younger than others. This photo was taken August 3rd, 2013.

What is Salvador Central?  And Why Are We So On About Music?!  Anyway!
Because It's Brazil's National Art!  And the Bahian Recôncavo
(area around the bay) is Brazil's Mississippi Delta!

Salvador Central HandsSalvador Central (which was, for years, Bahia-Online) is an ode (in the loosest sense) to Bahia and to its capital, Salvador. Not especially as geographic or even political entities (although the geography is magnificent and the less said about the latter the better), but in terms of culture, rather. Plenty of people come here for relaxation on the beaches, and Bahia's coast and coastal islands are lined with hundreds of kilometers of positively stunning sand-meets-water backed by coconut palms, but this isn't the only place in the world where such can be found. It is however the only place in the world where a particular flavor of culture may be found, a culture which has to a great degree spread thoughout the rest of Brazil, imbuing this vast nation with a spirit -- a national spirit -- by which it is characterized everywhere else in the groove-sentient universe...

Is this DeGaulle's "not a serious" country? Represented by fast and furious bumbums shaken at breakneck speed and covered (if at all) by a smattering of brightly died feathers? As much as there is to recommend these talented derrières, is that it? Was DeGaulle right?

Samba in Salvador
What??? Samba without feathered bumbums???!

The philosopher Bertrand Russell said -- citing Mozart -- that serious need not necessarily be solemn. And if ever there were a country where that would be true, that country is Brazil.

Brazil without samba would be like New Orleans without jazz, like the United States without the blues and everything which has descended from it (think George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, you name it...). Samba in Brazil is a national pastime, a national resource, a national heritage, and if Bahia-Online is to consider Brazilian culture -- particularly from Bahia -- it must consider samba.When we visit Italy, do we not seek out its jewels of renaissance art and architecture? When we consider Russia, and Ireland, are not Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Joyce and Yeats brought to mind?

Poor misconceived and maligned Brazil. Its music -- like jazz in the early days, back when it was danced to -- is denigrated, relegated to a lower order. The cacophonous pastime of a poor but happy people.

The bossa nova boom raised the bar harmonically...but it's interesting to consider that bossa nova's rhythms were derived from samba (more correctly, they are samba). Going back, they are descendents of the cabila played by runaway slaves in Salvador's houses of candomblé angola, rhythms vastly more subtle and sophisticated than those ever played by the most sophisticated bossa nova slicksters of Rio de Janeiro.

Strange to think that people ironically show their own lack of sophistication and judgement while erroneously assigning a lack of such to others...

Samba is The National Art of Brazil. Samba was born in Bahia. Samba is almost completely misunderstood outside of Brazil. For these it forms such an important part of Bahia-Online.

P.S. We include choro, jongo, côco, et al, keeping in mind that choro was born in Rio, and jongo in the Vale de Paraíba, etc....we love them all! And our "Hottest Rhythms, Coolest Tunes" meme should be taken with a grain of salt (well, maybe not the rhythms part... ; ).

P.P.S. We instituted the MusiCodex in order to provide a means for great but largely unknown Brazilian musicians to reach a wider audience. But there is great music all over the world, and even famous people aren't known to everybody, hence the network is wide open to both musicians and to listeners who want to support and point the way to the musicians they think are great.

P.P.P.S. Brazil GPS (Great Places to Stay) is our friends of decades (two decades!) who rent apartments or have pousadas (guesthouses) here. This is how Bahia-Online funds its passeios through the Recôncavo, pays for the maintenance of Bahia-Online and The MusiCodex, pays the rent, keeps the kids in school, and manages to fit in the occasional beer and cachaça at the sambas.

Salvador da Bahia: Apartments & Houses

Coming to Salvador?  Need a Great Place to Stay?  Vivaaa!!!

Brazil GPS (Great Places to Stay!) is Bahia-Online and two Americans in Salvador, with a roster of fully-set up apartments maintained solely for short-term rentals. This means you get experienced, top-flight service, references from previous guests, constant attention (when necessary), and the only surprises are pleasant ones.

Want to see what your place here can (or will) be like? Click on the photos below! And when you get here be prepared for all the orientation you need (or want)!

Apartments & Houses in Salvador: Alain
Alain Zamrini's Wonderful Apartments & Houses in Salvador
Apartments & Houses in Salvador: Dan
Dan Blumenthal's Wonderful Apartments & Houses in Salvador

The Heart of the Matter
Brazil is The Musical Country...and Bahia is Where It All Began!

There's a lot of spectacle in Bahian music...

Carnival with its trio elétricos -- sound-trucks with musicians on top -- looking like interstellar semi-trailers back from the future...shows of MPB (música popular brasileira) in Salvador's Teatro Castro Alves (biggest stage in South America!) with full production value, the audience seated (as always in modern theaters) like Easter Island statues...

Carlinhos Brown's Museu do Ritmo (Rhythm Museum; an entertainment venue) all done up Bahian faux tribal showbiz style...glamour and glitz and press agents and money...

And then there's where it all came from...the far side of the Baía de Todos os Santos (Bay of All Saints), a land of subsistence farmers and fishermen, many of the older people unable to read or write...their sambas the precursor to all this, without which none of the above would exist, their melodies -- when not created by themselves -- the inventions of people like them but now forgotten (as most of these people will be within a couple of generations or so of their passing), their rhythms a constant state of inconstancy and flux, played in a manner unlike (most) any group of musicians north of the Tropic of Cancer...making the metronome-like sledgehammering of the Hit Parade of the past several decades almost wincefully painful to listen to after one's ears have become accustomed to evershifting rhythms played like the aurora borealis looks...

So there's the spectacle, and there's the spectacular, and more often than not the latter is found far afield from the former, among the poor folk in the villages and the backlands, the humble and the honest, people who can say more (like an old delta bluesman playing a beat-up guitar on a sagging back porch) with a pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine) and a chula (a shouted/sung "folksong") than most with whatever technology and support money can buy.The heart of this matter, is out there! If you ask me anyway.

*Below find Alumínio Saturno, resident of Pitinga, Bahia, chuleiro and subsistence farmer.

Samba Served in Salvador!

Our Mission: To rescue lost samba and choro from oblivion, providing an environment where it can be discovered, explored, and carried away as recordings.

The Divine Cartola

About our record shop:

We are located in Pelourinho, on Rua João de Deus (no. 22). We sell vinyl and CDs, but our "specialty" has come to be the artesenal printing of CDs with out-of-print-out-of-the-catalogue music.

The CD business being what it is, there is more great Brazilian music unavailable than available. Especially when real (not slick-and-commercial) samba is involved. And choro? It's making a brilliant comeback in Brazil (people really do hunger for real music), but recordings tend to be independent and hard to come by.

Who's the man serving coffee above? Why, that's none other than Cartola, in a sense a symbol of the re-valorization of samba in Brazil. He wrote for everybody, disappeared in the '40s, was found in a bar in Ipanema in the '50s, missing teeth and dressed as a bum. His discoverer, the Jimmy Breslin of Brazil, took Cartola under his wing and tried to get him a record contract. But the doors were closed. "Nobody's interested in Cartola anymore!" they said. So Cartola married his childhood sweetheart Zica and opened (bankrolled by friends and supporters) Zicartola in Rio, the modern-era landmark in bringing the great sambistas of Brazil together under one roof (the other landmark was Tia Ciata's house decades earlier).

He was finally recorded in 1974, at 65 years of age, by a small label run by the Alan Lomax of Brazil, Marcus Pereira, and the record was -- in terms of press, buzz and talk-of-the-town anyway -- a huge success. Cartola was back!

The photo above? After having been "rediscovered" but before opening Zicartola, Cartola needed some way to survive other than washing cars (which is what he was doing the fateful night he walked into that bar). A supporter got him a job serving coffee in a government minstry. Even at that time, among the cognoscenti, Cartola was a god.

Imagine having your coffee served by the number one musical icon in your country! Where else other than Brazil?

Cana Brava Records

Your Friendly Attendant

Chances are, should you stop by the shop, you'll be attended by our Mrs. Her name is Rute Neyde and she's from a small town in the interior of Bahia, a place named for the sugarcane plantation which gave rise to the town -- Cana Brava. To be more accurate, she's from a small distrito (settlement) just outside of that town (the town now renamed Miguel Calmon), a place called Mocambo (mocambo is an African word for a hut) -- a place where, as she was was growing up, there was no electricity, no running water, and transportation was by donkey cart. Now we have all except for the last.

3 Beers, 5 Reais

That's what the sign at the bottom of the photo says...the beer being Skol and the can in question being a piriguete (slang for a woman of easy virtue; the cans are small, holding 250 ml, but that's good in a hot climate).

Pelourinho, SalvadorLooking to the Largo do Pelourinho, with the Igreja do Paço looming...

Santiago do Iguape, Bahia

Santiago do Iguape

Santiago do Iguape, on the Iguape bay, is a small fishing village almost as old as Salvador, having been founded in 1561 by Jesuits. The communities in the surrounding areas were founded as quilombos, villages of runaway slaves.

The preferred musical style here and in the once-hidden satellite communities is, of course, samba-de-roda. Viva!

The Convento de Santo Antônio
in the village of São Francisco do Paraguaçu, Bahia

Convento Santo Antônio

Set in seemingly the most unlikely of places*, on the margin of the bay of Iguape, itself set in the course of the Paraguaçu river, which debouches into the Baía de Todos os Santos -- Bay of All Saints -- this is São Francisco do Iguape's Convento Santo Antônio.

Work was begun on the convent in 1649; by 1653 the convent was ready for occupancy. The first stone for the church itself was laid between 1651 and 1658 (historical sources vary).

Decline began to set in in 1825 when Santo Antônio's House of Novitiates was transferred to the convent of São Francisco in Salvador (in the old city, the area nowadays referred to as "Pelourinho"). In 1888 an article in the Gazeta da Bahia said that the convent "is nowadays abandoned, serving only as a lair for nocturnal birds."

* The peninsula of Iguape was arguably the richest sugarcane producing area in Brazil, home to fourteen plantations and numerous quilombos (refuges/villages founded by runaway slaves).

Salvador Apartment Rentals!

Thinking about an apartment? What Alain has to say may be interesting!

Alain's Apartments in Salvador: Click HERE for information and listings!!!


Why Should You Have a Page in the Online Music Codex?
Because it's powered by the Small World Phenomenon
...and you're a part of this world, aren't you? Meaning that...

Salvador's Giant Steps

every gypsy jazz guitarist in a European caravan camp and every sitar player in Bengal and every sambista in every favela in Rio de Janeiro is within an average of six (6) introductions from you.

We've taken this well-known principle, put it online, substituted LINKS for introductions...

Salvador Muse  

...and the results are as if Euterpe (the Greek muse of music) has waved her aulos, transforming the music world into a truly open and accessible society wherein within some few hops anybody on the planet can potentially reach and hear anybody else, no matter who or where they are...

Mongolian shepherds and New York hipsters can click through to brilliant Bahian chuleiros and magnificent samba-de-roda that they NEVER would have found without a musical codex on the air! In both a reflection and a refoundation of society!

Link and be linked to. There's magnificent music there!
Salvador's João do Boi Sparrow Roberts in Salvador