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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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July 10, 2012 | Summer reading recommendation. Choro, Django

There's still plenty of summer left to get in some reading, and if you're somewhat of a history buff and like to be able to trace the development of a genre through it's social history (and in some cases, vice versa), there are two books to put on the top of your list, covering two hemispheres and both sides of the Atlantic. The first one, "Choro: A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music" takes you through more than a century of development of the marvelous South American folk genre, including its roots in the indigent indian population, African influence, and of course its classical European roots. Written in 2005, the book also includes a CD of audio examples.

We found it most interesting that Brazilian music thrived best during bouts of intense nationalism and generous government funding, and nearly crumbled during intense democratization, musicians literally out in the streets. Ironically, fascism was very good for the arts in Brazil.

Purchase information: Choro: A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music; Tamara Elena Livingston-Isenhour and Thomas George Caracas Garcia

Choro a Social History.jpeg

The next book, again for the history buff, "Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend" by Michael Dregni, in addition takes the rider through the life of the Gypsy Jazz icon and goes into the historical and cultural influences that shaped this rich music, including the rise and fall of Nazi Germany and its devastating impact of WW2 French culture.

Purchase information: Django: The Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend; Michael Dregni


Both books aptly demonstrate how music is an expression of the times. Very much worth the investment of time, especially for the jazz aficionado.

Posted by Ted at July 10, 2012 5:17 AM

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