Poetics - Vocenova

bossa nova trio
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Bossa Nova is a complex trans-cultural phenomenon, which has revolutionized, between the end of fifties and beginning of sixties, the brazilian popular music and further influenced with a remarkable impact - still very strong nowadays even quite different repertoires of the european and anglo-american singers and song writers.
The historic framework and the cultural roots of the new wave have to be placed into the economical and cultural Renaissance that Brazil experienced under the leadership of the President Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira. In those years Bossa Nova did represent for brazilian young people not merely a musical tendency, albeit a very lifestyle, a new and much more optimistic way to understand life and to appreciate their own country.

The theoretical-aesthetical and linguistic set of the Bossa Nova poetics have to be searched instead within the influence exerted by the singers, songwriters and poets of the Rive gauche - the left shore of the Seine river in Paris is that one of the intellectual, artistic and boh´emien neighbourhoods, historically at the center of the literary, academic and artistic life in Paris, owing to the presence of the Sorbonne University, the Latin Quarter and Montparnasse from Charles Trenet to the three Bigs Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Leo Ferr´e. The lyrics, far away from intellectualisms, do not concern with social and political issues but with tales of everyday life, which depict places and feelings with homesick, the saudade. Just owing to its intimistic nature, Bossa Nova has often been considered as a music for cultured, well-educated and rich people, both for creators and followers, a sort of intellectual product criticized by somebody, who claimed it was unable to intercept and represent the taste and tendency of the majority of the brazilian people. Time and History have shown that quite the opposite is true, for Bossa Nova has become the badge and the icon of Brasil in the whole world. Moreover, paradoxically, Bossa Nova could be understood as the prologue or prelude for the so called protest song of the sixties, which denounced the political excesses in Brazil that led to the Putsch in 1964.

Since the beginning, the meeting between the musical genius of Antonio Carlos ”Tom” Jobim and the above mentioned new and revolutionary poetics by Vinicius de Moraes created the ”magical chemestry”, further enhanced and completed by the great guitarist and singer Jo˜ao Gilberto, who implemented it with his renowned touch and style called batida. This remarkable alchemy is named Bossa Nova, a nearly untranslatable acronym, that in the brazilian popular jargon means new obsession, new mania, an extraordinary nutshell of traditional Samba and suggestive Jazz harmony. The deep connection between song writing, lyrics, instrumental setting and guitar style do fully witness the creative originality that allowed Bossa Nova to become a new page of Music. The first remarkable example of the above fusion was the song Chega de saudade, written by A.C. Jobim in 1958, lyrics by V. de Moraes, played and sung by J. Gilberto, who brought this song to an enormous national and worldwide success

here below the starting verses
Vai minha tristeza e diz à ela que
sem ela não pode ser
diz-lhe numa prece
que ela regresse
porque eu não posso mais sofrer.
Chega de saudade
a realidade é que
sem ela não há paz
não há beleza é só tristeza
e a melancolia que não sai de mim
não sai de mim, não sai…”

“Go, my sadness, an tell her
that without her I can not live.
Tell her with a pray to come back,
for I can no longer suffer so much.
Stop homesick,
the truth is that without her
there is no peace, no beauty,
only sadness and melancholy
that never leave me...”

Chega de saudade is only one among many masterpieces that were written by Tom Jobim between 1958 and 1973, the main part of which with lyrics by Vinicius and interpreted by Gilberto. Here we mention, for example, Corcovado, Desafinado, Samba de uma nota s´o, Meditao, O amor em paz, Insensatez, Este seu olhar, Garota de Ipanema and so on.

The song Chega de saudade has the merit to highlight the key word of the Bossa Nova poetics or even, why not, of the whole brazilian popular music: Saudade. Normally and usually its translation reads ”melancholy” , which is actually an approximation.
Saudade is sentiment which concerns a subtle and deep torment of the soul, the very same that black people in America expressed through the Blues music, or italian people of the neapolitan area with the so called Appocundria - see the corresponding song by Pino Daniele in its album Nero a metà. Three people and nations geographically so far which share the very same feeling and wonderfully express it in music!

Concerning the relationship between Italy and Bossa Nova, it is worthwhile to recall that the song Estate (original title Odio l’estate) written and released in 1960 by Bruno Martino, an italian singer and songwriter, had the privilege to be recorded and sung in italian by Joao Gilberto (lyrics by Bruno Brighetti). Owing to the beauty of its harmonic structure, Estate has been inserted by unanimous acclamation within the classic repertoire of Bossa Nova.
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