13th International RIdIM Conference & 1st Brazilian Conference on Music Iconography

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Enhancing Music Iconography research:
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Cultural Information

The mixture of creeds and legends, flavours and smells, natures and colours is the result of the unity among native Indians, Europeans and Africans. This unusual but exquisite blend was incorporated into the city and can be seen all through the year in its cultural life. Capoeira, Candomblé, Makulelê and the Carnival are some of these popular representations. Ranging from its centenary architecture to its rhythmic diversity, everything in Salvador is unique. Here we include some information and useful hints.

About Bahian culture

Land of orixás, patuás (amulets) and babalorixás (Candomblé’s spiritual leaders); land of the cult of all saints, Bahia is also the land of all myths and rites. The different folkloric expressions exhibit the richness of the popular imagination. Samba circles, Puxadas de Mastro, Capoeira, Terno de Reis, Bumba-meu-boi, Afoxé (among many others) add colour and energy to everyday life and display the unshakable faith of Bahia’s people all over Salvador and the countryside. A mosaic of festivals and celebrations of beliefs of African, indigenous and Portuguese origins, with the singular touch of Bahia.
Jorge Amado once said that “in Bahia, popular culture touches the eyes, the ears and mouth (for its rich and delicious cuisine), it touches all the senses and inspires the artistic and literary creations. In spite of being popular, it is present on every artistic expression, regardless of its intellectual nature”


Knowing the power that religions may have to produce upheavals, the Portuguese masters prohibited black slaves from expressing their original religion. In order evade the ban, the slaves disguised their gods as Catholic saints and worshipped them. The saints are called orixás (pronounced o-ree-sha).
The holy places of slaves, equivalent to Catholic churches, are called terreiros. Despite all efforts of the Portuguese, orixás and terreiros remained all over Bahia, side by side with Catholicism.
In Brazil only a few of the more than two hundred African orixás are worshipped. The orixás have their roots in the ancestors of the African clans, deified around five thousand years ago. They are believed to have the power to control the forces of Nature.
(more info)

Bahian Cuisine Salvador has its own cuisine. Among the long list of native dishes, you'll see baianas de acarajé everywhere, usually dressed in white (the color of Iansã, goddess of the wind), tables spread with a spicy and exotic assortment of Bahia's own version of fast-food.
- An acarajé is a deep-fried "bread" made from mashed beans (feijão fradinho -- black-eyed peas). A variation of the acarajé is the abará. Rather than being deep-fried it is boiled in a banana leaf.
Not all baianas are equally reliable cooks. Some are bad and their customers suffer. Generally, it's a good idea to eat where the native baianos are standing in line.
- Moqueca and bobó are essentially the same except that bobó is thickened with the addition of mashed aipim (manioc). The flavour base of these two dishes is similar to the ingredients in acarajés, including the ubiquitous dendé oil and coconut milk.

Bahian artists Bahia is the birthplace of many renowned artists, writers and musicians, including Dorival Caymmi; João Gilberto; Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and his sister Maria Bethânia. Internationally famous groups known as "blocos-afros" include Olodum and Ilê Aiyê

During the 18th and 19th centuries many important composers and scholars were born and grew up in Bahia. Among the most known are Caetano de Mello de Jesus, Theodoro Cyro de Souza, Damião Barbosa de Araújo, José Joaquim de Souza Negrão and Domingos da Rocha Mussurunga. During the Brazilian Romanticism movement the Bahian abolitionist poet and play writer Castro Alves penned his famous poem, Navio negreiro; it is considered a masterpiece of anti-slavery. Other noteworthy Bahian writers include Gregório de Matos (17th century) and Fr. Antonio Vieira, who contributed to the expansion of the Portuguese language throughout the Brazilian territory.
The major fiction writer of the 20th Century, Jorge Amado, was born in the city of Itabuna. His production includes Gabriela, Cinnamon and Cloves; Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands; and Tieta, all of which became renowned films. More recent writers from Bahia include João Ubaldo Ribeiro.

In the visual arts, among many renowned figures are the multigenre artist known as Carybé (1911-1997) as well as Mario Cravo and Tati Moreno.

Bahian musical instruments Among the different musical instruments being used in Bahian musical scene are:
- Berimbau: Originally brought to Brazil in the 1500’s by Bantù slaves from Africa and used to accompany the famous dance called Capoeira (which is a sort of a martial art were two fighter are trained while berimbau, tambourine and agogo bells play a rhythm). Berimbau was also used by slaves as a communication mean to prevent to be understood by the slaveholders. Berimbau is considered a sacred instrument.
(more info)
- Bahian Electric Guitar: Originated as an electrified hybrid musical instrument of a Brazilian cavaquinho — a small guitar of Portuguese origin — and a mandolin, using the string gauge and the short scale of the former and the tuning (GDAE) of the latter instrument. Initially called 'Cavaquinho Elétrico' or 'Pau Elétrico' (='electric log'), it was eventually named Guitarra Baiana (=Bahian Electric Guitar) in the late 1970s. The instrument is intimately connected to the Brazilian Carnival, where it is used extensively, especially in the Carnaval da Bahia of Salvador, Bahia State. (more info)

Related links Here we include some useful links in case you want to learn more about our rich culture.

Design & development ©2009-2011 by Pablo Sotuyo Blanco e Ricardo Bordini (SONARE)

July 20-22, 2011 - Salvador (Bahia), Brazil