The World Cup’s Gift to Us All is Brazil’s Beautiful Musical Soul

It’s so awesome to be able to witness the omnipresent power of music; the way it weaves its sound-ful influences into seemingly every fabric of our human existence, in today’s world more obviously then ever. Music highlights and accentuates every colorful human emotion, and seems to walk along our side throughout our lives, like our very own emotional advocate and activator. Emotions are energy + motion right? So as most of us live, breath, move and groove to the pulses and beats of everyday life, both outside and inside us, music acts as a constant connector, whether we are continuously aware of its companionship or not.   With the World Cup, it’s been much more apparent how sports has become even more heavily engaged in partnership with the music industry; probably realizing the impact it has to magnify and amplify the emotionally laden peak experiences we have as human beings. Sports can be considered one of those “biggie” experiences, and has become a significant satisfier in many people’s lives throughout the world, a welcomed escape, a way to engender feelings of unification with others, and although some may have a general disinterest or dislike for sports, it is abnormal to find anyone who has an overbearing natural aversion to music. Ask yourself, do you know anyone who naturally detests music? Therefore, music acts as a bridge or catalyst to connect cultures, people and nations, and drives people into participating in events (or use a product, brand, or service etc.) they normally would not gravitate to. After all,

“Music is the Universal Language of All Mankind”.

Brands like ‘Beats by Dre’, shows us the very powerful and electrically emotive connection sports (in this case World Cup soccer i.e. futebol) has with culture and music. Have a look and listen at how they represent that in the video, “The Game Before the Game” showing Brazils beloved soccer star, Neymar Jr. and others, listening to “Jungle” by Jamie N Commons & The X Ambassadors.

As in the case of the World Cup, a sporting event more massively popular and globally unifying, than any other sporting event, you can be sure that our ever present escort ‘Music’, wouldn’t dare miss this show. The show being, the opportunity to illicit “energy in motion”, remember?Kinda like an amuse-bouche served at the onset of a fancy din-din, meant to stir up your senses, elevate and enhance your appetite, and get you wanting (what ever it is you are wanting) much much more. This “Motion” begins stacking up to create a surge of human emotional electricity that expands by feeding off all the kinetic Co-motion, kind of like friction creating fire; and in us, that fired up feeling we get in our gut. When we all get going in this together, it can be quite an exhilarating and fiery vibe!

So, it all starts with a spark right? Sure, and in a culture as exuberant, vivacious, and passionately inflamed as Brazil, sparks are natural and ignite brightly, and easily. FIFA’s  decision to highlight the pageantry of the 2014 World Cup with a duo performance by American artists;  Pitbull and Jennifer “Jenny from the block” Lopez, also featuring brazilian born Claudia Leitte, seemingly as a side note, was ample fuel to fire up a united musical protest. In an ironic sort of twist, “We are One” (Ole Ola), did create oneness and unity, perhaps just not in the way the performing artists and record company backers intended it to. The following statement was highlighted as the general Brazilian sentiment according to the associated press,”

“Although Brazilian Claudia Leitte is also featured in the official theme, critics say they don’t understand why Cuban-American rapper Pitbull and Bronx-born Puerto Rican singer Jennifer Lopez were chosen for the song when there are so many other great musicians in the land of Bossa Nova.”

Brazilians where also put off that the song is mostly in English and Spanish, leaving only a few seconds at the end for Leitte to sing in her native Portuguese. Watch the video yourself, to see if you share this opinion.

American Pop Star, Shakira is no stranger to controversy as she sparked some up herself when her song ‘Waka Waka -This Time For Africa’, was the official FiFA (the sport’s governing body) World Cup song hosted by South Africa in 2010.

Interestingly enough, in the midst of this year’s FIFA music controversy, Shakira stepped up and took the opportunity to work it out in her favor, releasing her own unofficial 2014 World Cup song. When Brazilians where given a choice between American performers, Shakira seems to have come out on top; with a vibe, background, and artistic influences that seem to share more synchronicity with the people of Brazil than say ‘Pitbull’ or Jennifer Lopez did. Your own ears and hips will have to be the referee on this one.

Even with so much stunning production value invested, Brazilians seemed generally dismayed by the simple fact that while their country is overflowing with so much zest, lushness, and flamboyantly flavorful music culture than almost anywhere, no native Brazilian performance acts where selected to represent at this spectacular sports occasion. It makes little sense to many, when there is such an over pouring of auditory sunshine in Brazil, to fill up all the ‘ear cups’ in the world.

Brazil has always had an abundant of music and entertainment culture, bursting forth with intoxicating beats, that intersect perfectly among the fantastical exotic displays and voluptuous eye feasts. Even the most stagnant of hips must move to ‘wiggle it just a little bit’, in the throng of such musical magic, majesty and amusement. It takes more than a collection of samba dancers, capoeira performers, or South American drum masters, to woo the discerning ear of the Brazilian people, a culture steeped in a deep luxurious richness of natural rhythm and colorful diversity; one that seems to mirror its very own fertile Amazon, full of its own deep flow, mysteries, magnificent sound creators, and passionate protests. In fact, Brazilian people are so entrenched in a sort of “collective vibe” that even when they protest they must “dance it out”. And during a sports victory, …well that’s a given

Just take a look at Brazil’s national team SuperStar – Neymar doing the Tchu Tcha Tch

So, if there is a silver lining to the official FIFA song controversy (and there always is), it’s that it will light a spark in all of us to move, to “explore the more” and go beyond needless boundaries, musical or otherwise, and to not forget to dance to the beat of our own drums along the way. What may have come off as just another example of the commercial music industry, attempting to connect to “place and people”, and perhaps coming off as culturally out of touch instead, can actually be an invitation to work through the controversy, and discover the essence that brings us all closer to some sort of victory, connection, and real “oneness”. We have got to venture “outside the box” to get there, and that may be the only rule to really follow.

In a shift to do just that, and in honor of the opportunity this music controversy has created, here is a collection of songs by Brazilian artists (an alternative World Cup playlist ). After fully diving into the local culture; it’s pulse and authentic music creations, I discovered amazing exotic sounds from some of the most legendary, to some of the freshest emerging Brazilian music creators ever heard. Enjoy, or as I believe they say in Portuguese, Desfrutar!

This is the Classic of Classics. ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ was inspired by a real Brazilian girl, and is the 2nd most recorded pop song in music history. So, you’ve probably heard it, but this timeless (100 % Brazilian) sonic beauty never gets old.

 

 

Authentically lovable Brazilian artist, Roge, expresses beautifully the interconnectivity of soccer, music, dance and Brazilian culture, in his recent interview with ESPN.

“I love soccer and I’m looking for the art in soccer, like I do in music”

“The samba and the way the Brazilian people are moving, it’s like playing soccer”

“I’ve been watching life, my words, through my lens, ‘The Music.’ All my words come from music.”

Cheating here a bit, but if it made hips move and grove, I’d say it’s in line with the spirit of Brazil. ;)

I’m sure there are many artists left to discover and share with the live Radio DJs on RadioFlag, so if I’ve missed some amazing ones, please let me know. For now I will probably tune in to 2 local Brazilian radio stations that I have recently found: MPB fm and Beat 98, and most definitely spend time exploring the best South American music blog I’ve found so far. It’s called sounds and colours. There are actually a lot of Brazilian music lovers on RadioFlag, who love to find new emerging artists from all over, to share with a worldwide audience. Just check out some of the Live Radio DJs who do Bossa Nova and Brazilian music themed radio shows, and play song requests for their listeners via RadioFlag.

Now that Brazil has gone undefeated in the World Cup games thus far,  we should keep our ears open for a fresh harvest of beats and ballads to come pulsing out of the hearts of energized Brazilian futebol (soccer in Portuguese) fans; ones that will do honor to the local vibe perfectly. So go, make music, and take notice of how music never misses out on the energy and motions of Life, because it is Life!

@Airambrosia on RadioFlag

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DJs On RadioFlag Spark a Time Traveling Exploration Into the Lore of Celtic Music

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In spite of my overall enthusiasm for New Music and Artists, now and again, I find myself in a nostalgic mood, that brings out the “music time traveler” in me, beckoning my ears on a tryst and galloping back in time.

I have several DJ’s on RadioFlag to thank at the end of this article, for igniting this last trip. While exploring RadioFlag on St. Patrick’s Day, I tuned into the DJ’s who were giving spins to Irish and Celtic tunes. I began to wonder, is there a difference between Celtic and Irish music? If so, what is it? Maybe you’re asking yourself, “who the heck cares anyways?” Well, as a person who truly “digs” music (I mean that very literally), I like to dig deep into it. Think of it as music archaeology combined with music farming, hunting, and gathering, if you will. Investigating, exploring, digging, and gathering the roots to a song, is a big part of the pleasure; all in due preparation for a satisfying scrumptious sound feast.

It’s like the difference between fast food and a slow and sensuously indulged meal, whose whereabouts can be traced to an artisan farmer (which on exceptional occasions I would go so far as to liken it to bio-dynamic farming, although not all bio-dynamic farming is what I could consider artful). From there, consciously procured to induce a thoroughly engaging relationship with the food, taken into a persons body temple as empowering fuel. Music is like fuel in that way, just taken through the ears instead. Simply said, its like the perfect condiment, and it enhances the flavor of each tasty tune that rides its wave towards an honest desire for profound musical exhilaration.

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” ~ Hunter Thompson

This unfeigned passion spurred me to capture one single evocative tune; one that hearkened the feeling of lore and music tradition, with roots that plunge into the oldest history of Ireland. At the same time, I wanted this song to hold its place in the line of time and space, coming all the way to touch the present day, in an all pervading, global, and creative way. The song that stood out was a medieval ballad called ‘Scarborough Fair‘, first made famous in the 1960′s, by Folk Rock Artists Simon and Garfunkel. Although it’s traditionally an English ballad, there seems to be a lot of room for debate regarding the original medieval source; one being that the song is rooted in a Scottish ballad called “Elfin knight”. The magical  story is about an Elf who kidnaps a woman, and will only release her from his love grasp if she can succeed to do “impossible things”. Sounds like a good time. ;-)

In light of that fanciful perspective, there seems plenty of chance for an Irish influence, whereas not to be forgotten. It’s true that the song’s title places it in the Medieval English “hot spot” of Scarbourough, a town in Yorkshire. The Scarbourough Fair was like a big and popular party scene in the 14th century, and whose jubilation’s endured all the way into the 1700’s. This yearly festival heralded in all kinds of colorful characters from mighty distances for the purpose of trade, eating,  drinking, mirth and merriment, and in this particular case, unrequited love.

The lyrics detail a young man requesting impossible tasks of his lover, and promising if she accomplishes the charge, he will have her back. Likewise, she counters with equally impossible tasks for him to perform. They then agree to set forth on their lover’s challenge simultaneously, wishing each other “all good things”, symbolized by herbal references to “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme”.

Most people today don’t give much credence to The Doctrine of Signatures, or the idea that herbs are anything more than something you add to a salad or marinade. However, herbs charmed the romantic imagination of medieval lovers, much the same way chocolate in heart shaped boxes, and red roses on Valentines day, fan the fires of modern day romantics. So in the context of the day, parsley was used by medieval doctors to turn spiritual bitterness into mildness, sage as a symbol for strength and protection, rosemary to build faithfulness and counter loneliness, and thyme to instill courage. Thus, in essence, each time this chorus comes up in the song, it instills a blessing from one lover to the other, while they do the impossible. How romantic is that?

Returning to the question; what is the difference between Celtic and Irish music? The key to opening a door to answering this quest, was handed to me by DJ Blondie on RadioFlag, when she played an iconic Celtic inspired artist by the name Loreena Mckennitt.

This video depicts Mckennitt performing live from one of Spain’s most wondrous ancient and exquisitely intricate architectural masterpieces, The Alhambra. In the introduction she explains her deep life long musical fascination with Celtic music and the expansive influence of the Celt people. 

In fact, the answers to the Celtic questions are not easily unveiled, being heavily shrouded in a tempest of time and magical tales, cultural and religious inoculations, raucous and drunken silly talk through centuries of Scarbourough fairs, scholarly opinion, and ceaseless ornery gibberish and senseless shenanigans surrounding the topic.

The simplest answer, is that Celtic music cast a wider net than simply “music from Ireland”, because it encompass music from Great Britain; which is Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, there is much more to the story of the Celts, whose culture, language, and art of all kinds spread across the majority of the European continent, before the rise of the Roman empire. The music has roots that go very deep, high and wide, and making it your study, is like climbing a giant “Tree of Life” with roots that penetrate middle earth, and branches that spread throughout the heavens. It’s like peeling through the layers of a macro-cosmic onion, that emanates from many mystical places across this earth. This exploration turned into  quite an unexpected excavation, that had me digging back into a fantastically adorned realm of medieval laden musical mysticism.

Much like the lore of Celtic music itself, the ballad of Scarborough Fair has a similar mystery story, with a horizon line that keeps on moving out ahead with each new discovery. One path led me to the tune, another to the  history of the ballad, onto a study of cultures, migrations, traditions, stories, myths, magic, artists, songs, cover songs, musical instruments, and musical interpretations from various artists of different countries, regions, genres and styles.

The most delightful explanation I came upon reads below:

“What is the difference between peaches and stone fruit? The peach is a stone fruit but stone fruit is a category idea that covers other fruits that have some commonality, but it is not an actual tangible thing. You cannot compare a peach to a stone fruit because a peach is a stone fruit. However , you can examine what qualifies to be a stone fruit to see if peaches , plums, nectarines, and apricots fit the idea.”

So finally, here is a testament to the enduring power of Scarbourough Fair, revealed in 31 versions of the song in various genres, and by different creative music artists around the World. Cheers & Sláinte !

Sarah Brightman – Celestial Operatic Gothic Theatrical – England

Jan Laurenz – Ukulele Harp – Switzerland

Queensrÿche -Progressive Heavy Metal -USA

Michal Zator – Acoustic Harp Traditional Medieval / Renaissance -Poland

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Classical – England

 

Blackmore’s Night – Traditional Folk – UK and USA

Simon & Garfunkel – Folk Rock -USA

Hayley Westerna – Neo-Classical Folk – New Zealand



Nolwenn Leroy -Celtic Folk – France

Aeon – New Age Folk – England / LA

The Harp Twins – Duo Electronic / Acoustic Harp – USA

KM Music Conservatory – Hindi – India

 

Nox Arcana – Gothic Rock – USA

Tracy Huang – Pop – China

Leaves Eyes – Symphonic Gothic Rock – Norway & Germany

 

Caterina Valente – Jazz – Italy

Laurent Voulzy – Experimental Folk Orchestral – France

Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 – Latin Bossa Nova – Brazil

The Gotthard Sisters Celtic/ Irish Roots – Seattle, USA

Gregorian Monks – Gregorian Chant – Germany

Brainbox- Classic Rock – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cernunnos – Folk Metal – Buenos Aires, Argentina

 Gypsy Soul – Celtic Folk & Soul – California, USA

Aoi Tada – Anime Manga Soundtrack – Tokyo, Japan

My Dying Bride – Atmospheric Doom Metal – England

Thy Blood My Gain- Power Metal -Netherlands

The Georgetown Chimes – A Capella – Georgetown University USA

Celia Pavey – Folk Country – Australia

Somerville College Choir at Oxford -Choral – England

I want to thank the following DJs in the RadioFlag community, @facesofradio @blackrandal @Djdolan @kaylaCP and @Djblondie, for getting into the spirit and celebration of the day, and lighting up my interest to go deep into this music time voyage.

 

 

@Airambrosia on RadioFlag
@AirAmbrosia on Twitter

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