Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Obsessive Ramblings... How One Thing Always Leads to Another

I don't know if anyone listened to the songs I posted recently... or my posting about my love for Antonio Carlos Jobim's music.
I can't remember when I first heard his music, but I was drawn to it the minute I heard it. Often, when I am in a place where music is being played, I hear a Jobim melody and my heart soars. I always want to get up and dance when I hear it.

When I like something, I have been known to go a little crazy over it. I spend a lot of time reading about it and researching it. Then I often find something else along the way that sparks an interest, and I am off on another tangent. Well, my interest in this music has led me to become interested in Brazil, and further, to South America as a whole. Yesterday I was listening to PBS where they were talking about how unaware most people in the U.S.A. are of South America. I would like to learn more about it, and it all started with music.

Antonio Carlos Jobim is from Rio de Janeiro, where he is known as Tom Jobim. They revere him so much that they named their international airport after him. He is known primarily for Bossa Nova, which originated in Brazil in the 1950s. Most people in the U.S.A. are aware of his music only via recordings by Stan Getz and Astrid Gilberto, specifically "The Girl from Ipanema". But these recordings are not at the heart of his music. His music really shines in less produced recordings with him playing the piano and singing, or with Joao Gilberto playing the guitar and singing. Or with both of them, playing and singing together. Joao Gilberto is another popular musician in Brazil and he did many recordings with Jobim.

Many of Jobim's recordings also feature guitar by Toquinho. Toquinho is a nickname for another well-known Brazilian musician whose real name is Antonio Pecci Filha. You can see him playing the guitar on my YouTube video of "One Note Samba". My other YouTube video has Tom Jobim and Elis Regina singing "Aguas de Marco" (Waters of March). It's a playful duet.

There is so much more to Jobim's music than just "samba" music. I looked it up in Wikipedia and I liked the definition they gave. They describe it as a "refined version of samba, de-emphasizing the percussion aspect of its rhythm and enriching the melodic and harmonic context." I am not a music expert, but I think the melodies are beautiful and, as a fan of jazz, I find the chords and harmonies fascinating.

Jobim also worked with Vinicius de Moraes, a Brazilian poet, playwright and lyricist. He wrote the lyrics to some of Jobim's songs. They collaborated on a Brazilian film called "Black Orpheus". It was based on a play written by de Moraes, and it features music by Jobim. The film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 1959, and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960.

So... how does one thing lead to another? While reading about Jobim and Brazil, I came upon another interesting story about music in South America. It's a program called "El Sistema" which was started in Venezuela by a man named Jose Antonio Abreu. Mr. Abreu's mission was described as "social action through music". They take children from impoverished backgrounds and teach them music and provide them with instruments. They have formed a classical orchestra that is highly praised. The program is so successful that it is being adopted around the world.

Then I read that Jose Antonio Abreu won something called the "TED Award" for 2009. So I had to look up the TED Award. TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. Each year, three individuals are chosen for innovative, outstanding ideas. An awards ceremony is held annually; awardees give talks, and they are fascinating, about so many different subjects.

While reading about TED Awards I came across an original thinker named Malcolm Gladwell. I had read a reference to him on a blog I like. I looked him up and found out he had been a speaker at the TED Award ceremony in 2004. He has written books called "Blink" and "The Tipping Point" and "Outliers". I watched a YouTube video of him at the TED Awards, giving a talk about spaghetti sauce. He was speaking about a man named Howard Moskowitz, whom he was crediting for revolutionizing spaghetti sauce among other things. Wow! Now I will have to look up Howard Moskowitz!

So, that's how my day goes. Too much time on my hands? Probably. But it's all so interesting! It's like I am home-schooling myself.

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